NEW YORK — Saudi Arabia’s king-in-waiting, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman or “MBS,” has long been suspected of pushing to forge a historic alliance between the Gulf Arab monarchy and apartheid Israel as a part of his reform agenda.
However, a recently-leaked itinerary of his tour in the United States has revealed the extent to which the Saudi ruling regime represented by MBS is willing to build bridges with the most aggressive sections of the Zionist lobby.
In an apparent bid to prove his reliability as an ally and his willingness to tackle the tough issues requiring “modernization,” bin Salman met with a veritable who’s-who of the hard-right pro-Israeli Jewish community. The list of groups includes hard-line organizations that have helped finance illegal settlement construction in the Occupied Territories, sought to outlaw the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, and played the role of Israeli military mouthpieces during Israel’s multiple campaigns of aggression against the people of Gaza and occupied Palestine.
The gang’s all here
According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the 32-year-old crown prince met with officials and leaders from AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Stand Up for Israel project, and the Jewish Federations of North America. Each of these groups has tried to delegitimize and prevent the BDS campaign, denouncing its calls for the economic and cultural isolation of the Israeli settler-colonial project as a form of “anti-Semitism.” BDS campaigners maintain that their only motivation is to express solidarity, through their activism and advocacy, with the long-suffering and abused indigenous Palestinian population in the lands claimed by Israel.
Other groups that the Saudi royal met include the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which has denounced progressive Jews who break from Tel Aviv’s right-wing party line as “anti-Semites;” and B’nai B’rith, a leading Jewish organization that has expedited settler-colonial activity in Palestine through fully subsidized “birthright” trips for U.S. youth.
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On Tuesday, bin Salman also reportedly met with former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, former New York mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Henry Kissinger, outspoken Israeli supporter and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and a range of Trump cabinet officials.
MBS also was able to meet one of his top fans, the hawkish New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. In a November column for the Times, titled “Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last,” Friedman lavished fulsome praise on the king-in-waiting for his “reform” agenda, his willingness to stand up to “Iran’s ayatollahs” despite the odds, and his brave stance to “restore” the allegedly “tolerant” nature of Saudi Wahhabism.
Biting off more than MBS can chew?
Under the de facto rule of the crown prince, Saudi Arabia has sought to quietly normalize relations between Israel and the Gulf monarchies. His moves have enjoyed the support of allied Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates; U.S. President Donald Trump; and his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner. Last week, The Intercept reported that MBS had said privately that Kushner was “in his pocket.”
Since seizing power last June after suddenly being named crown prince by his aging father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, MBS has embarked on a shocking series of moves meant to cozy up to the Israelis. This has included the kidnapping of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a lackadaisical Saudi response to Trump’s de facto recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and moves to push the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah into agreeing to highly unfavorable terms of surrender in the U.S.-Israeli-Saudi “peace plan.”
It remains yet to be seen whether the Middle East will accept the “reform-minded” leadership of Mohammed bin Salman, let alone his relinquishing of the Palestinian cause, without being treated to the all-expenses-paid “vacations” of the sort that MBS provided for his own family at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton hotel. However, the open embrace of right-wing Zionist figures in the U.S. by the would-be Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques runs the risk of provoking violent disgust across the Arab world in a form and measure that the young prince may find impossible to rein in.
Top Photo | Mohammad bin Salamn meets with JAred Kushner on March 20, 2018 to discuss the Israel, Palestine conflict. (Photo: Saudi Press Agency)
Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.