Saudi shows feature Jewish characters, urge ties with Israel

Ramadan shows depicting Jewish life in the 1940s, character calling for business ties with Israel, causing controversy over 'normalization.'

Gary Willig ,

Riyadh skyline at night
Riyadh skyline at night
iStock

Two programs aired on a Saudi television station for Ramadan have sparked controversy in the Muslim world for "promoting normalization" with Israel.

One show, “Umm Haroun” (The Mother of Aaron), depicts the life of Jewish residents of Kuwait in the 1940s. The show opens with a monologue in Hebrew: “Before our footsteps go missing and our lives fall into memory, we will be lost to time. … We are the Gulf Jews who were born in the Gulf lands.”

"Umm Haroun" is the first show of its kind in the Arab world depicting the lives of Jews in the Gulf States. The show began its run on Friday on the Saudi-owned MBC channel.

The second show, "Exit 7," contains an explicit call for better relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

One character calls for closer ties with Israel while criticizing the Palestinian Arabs for being ungrateful for the support they have received from Saudi Arabia over the years.

"I am referring to the lack of shame among the Palestinians. We entered wars for the sake of the Palestinian people. We declared an oil boycott for the sake of Palestine. Ever since they had their [Palestinian] Authority, we have been paying for its expenses and its salaries," the character says.

Both shows have received criticism for depicting Jews and Israelis in a positive manner.

Presenters of Al Jazeera slammed the show in a video captured by MEMRI.

"And now, unfortunately, for drama with a flavor of normalization. This is what followers of TV series from the Gulf have called them. These series enjoy wide publicity and are aired during the month of Ramadan, focusing on accepting the Israelis as fait accompli and polishing the image of the Jews, while distorting the image of the Palestinians," said the first presenter.

"According to the followers, this continues the campaign against the Palestinian people and against the just nature of their cause. This raises questions. Who is pushing the Gulf dramas in that direction?" said the second presenter.

The Hamas terrorist organization also condemned the shows.

Hamas official Ra’fat Murra said called Umm Haroun a “political and cultural attempt to introduce the Zionist project to Persian Gulf society,” adding: “The character of Umm Haroun reminds me of [former Israeli prime minister] Golda Meir, the head of the occupation, who was a murderous criminal. This is the goal of normalization: hatred, slow killing and internal destruction.”




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