A senior Saudi researcher on Monday published an article in an Israeli newspaper at a development university in Tel Aviv, calling it “unprecedented.”
Professor Mohammed Ibrahim Alghbban, responsible for Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Hebrew Studies at the Department of Modern Languages and Translation at King Saud University in Riyadh, wrote an essay on the Prophet Muhammad’s good relations with the Jews, in which he stated that the founder of Islam had no clash with the Jews for religious reasons, but rather solely for political reasons.
The article in Hebrew was titled “A Contribution to Improving the Image of the Prophet Muhammad in the Eyes of the Israeli Public: Muhammad’s Alliances and Mail Exchange with Jews in the Arabian Peninsula.” It was published in Kesher, a journal of the Shalom Rosenfeld Institute for Jewish Media Research and Communication at Tel Aviv University.
According to the university, the article was published after the newspaper’s editor, Professor Gideon Kouts, met Alghbban at several academic conferences and during a visit to Saudi Arabia in 2015.
In a preface to the article, Alghbban said he wanted to correct the prophet’s false statements, saying the letters had never been translated into Hebrew before.
“Erroneous assumptions about the origins of Islam, proposed by scholars of Oriental studies in the previous century – some of which were written in Hebrew – have led to a distorted understanding of the manuscripts, poor methodology, and negative influences on Hebrew-speaking Middle Eastern scholars. Alghbban wrote.
“To accuse Islam and the Prophet Muhammad of hate speech and racism against the Jewish tribes of the Hejaz is wrong. Muhammad treated all social groups in Medina and other places under his control equally, regardless of race and religion. The false claims in the research are due to the fact that his letters were never translated into Hebrew.
The article was “primarily important” to Alghbban’s choice to publish the article in an Israeli newspaper, according to the press release.
“I hope that this university cooperation is another step towards economic and political cooperation,” said Professor Raanan Rein, director of the Shalom Rosenfeld Institute.
Like most Arab countries, Saudi Arabia does not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel, but clandestine relations have intensified in recent years between Jerusalem and Riyadh, focusing mainly on security issues, especially given their enmity. mutual to Iran.
Israel has only concluded peace deals with two Arab countries – Jordan and Egypt, its control of Palestinian territory having long served as a factor preventing similar deals with the rest of the Arab world.
Israel has, however, sought to forge ties with the Gulf countries in recent years.
In January, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri signed an order allowing Israelis to travel to Saudi Arabia to attend business meetings or seek investments on condition of having an invitation from an official body and to have completed the necessary papers to enter the country. .
It also officially allows Muslim citizens of Israel to travel to the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca for the religious hajj or umrah pilgrimage, the ministry said in a statement. Israeli pilgrims usually travel for the hajj with temporary Jordanian papers.
Until now, Israeli law has prohibited citizens from traveling to many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, without the express permission of the Minister of the Interior, and the increasingly frequent visits of men from Israel. Israeli affairs were generally secret.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan last month warned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan for the annexation of parts of the West Bank would represent a “dangerous escalation” that threatens the chances of recapture. peace process.