Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen defended his disclosure of private meetings with Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush, who for this meeting has been terminated and departed Libya. Cohen said of his meeting, “The foreign ministry works regularly through both overt and covert channels, and in a variety of secret ways to strengthen Israel’s connections in the world.” Further, he claimed that his opponents, who accused him of ‘amateurish and irresponsible lack of judgment,’ used this disclosed meeting as ‘a rush to react without knowing the details.’

The fallout from this disclosure has created a firestorm of controversy. For Foreign Minister Mangoush, it resulted in her termination for meeting with Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated that any further secret meetings must be approved by him, and the US has been furious at the revelation of the meeting, though aware of its occurrence, but believed that it would not be disclosed.

The firestorm and firing serve as an example of why peace between Israel and its Arab Muslim neighbors remains elusive. It’s because of Islamic religion and culture. Another example of this happened to an Arab Israeli advocate, Yoseph Haddad, at the airport in Dubai. He and his family were attacked by fellow Arab Israelis who oppose his support of Israel. He said, “My family was attacked because of who I am, my views, and my work for the State on Israel.” He responded to the incident on his social media, “I want all the attackers and the rest of those who think they will stop me through intimidation and violence I will continue with all my strength. You will not stop me, and you are only causing me to get stronger and stronger.” Haddad heads an organization Together Vouch for Each Other which seeks to connect the Arab community with Israeli society.

Whether in politics or social interaction, old views, ties and ways create barriers to overcome for peace to occur between Israel and its Arab Muslim neighbors.

Source: Lazar Berman and The Times of Israel Staff