Global News in Review

It’s been an overwhelming week of headlines and news on Middle East issues, from Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel to the terrorist attack in Manchester. Let us share with you a few articles we found helpful in making sense of things.

➜ Trump in Saudi Arabia

For many of us focused on reform in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is a major foe. A country that exports its abhorrent brand of extremist Islamic ideology throughout the world, funding madrassas in Pakistan, promoting undercurrents of jihad and terrorism, and suppressing human rights, women’s rights, and democracy at home, it’s hard to stomach such a major “deal with the devil” in terms of the arms package. Also, that it signals a pivot back towards this intolerant nation, and away from Iran, as reports the CS Monitor’s long-time correspondent, Scott Peterson, which arguably could be a more natural ally for the U.S. down the road. By way of contrast, Iran just held a real election, re-elected a moderate to the post of President, and is still abiding by the nuclear deal.

➜ Israel/Palestine

A helpful overview article from The Economist, “Why Israel needs a Palestinian state” about the known parameters of what a peace deal would include, and how it is in Israel’s best interest to reach a peace deal—to end its 50-year occupation of Palestinian and preserve its status as a democracy. “…the never-ending subjugation of Palestinians will erode Israel’s standing abroad and damage its democracy at home. Its politics are turning towards ethno-religious chauvinism, seeking to marginalise Arabs and Jewish leftists, including human-rights groups.”The Atlantic shared an article about Trump’s enthusiasm about prospects for peace but said he shied away from discussing details, which some analysts say helps squelch distrust from the outset. “As I have repeatedly said, I am personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement, and I had a meeting this morning with President Abbas and can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace.”Several of our partner organizations are currently camped out in an area near Hebron to try and restore families to lands they were kicked out of in the 1990s in order to protest 50 years of Israeli occupation. More than 300 protesters, Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, and internationals have gathered, and the camp was dismantled by Israeli forces a day after its launch. They have reassembled and are remaining steadfast in the face of opposition. You can follow updates on social media via the hashtag #WeAreSumud.

➜ Manchester, Indonesia, Egypt, the list goes on and on…

In just the past week, we have seen more devastating terrorist attacks from ISIS across the globe, not just in Manchester, England, but in Indonesia, and in Egypt against Coptic Christians. Extremism in Islam is continuing unabated, and at a time when the U.S. is cozying up to the Saudi government complicit in the growth and spread of extremism, we should be instead working towards the opposite goal: a reformation in Islam. Christianity had one 500 years ago. Judaism had one. But Islam has not, and the intolerance of other faiths and of moderate ideals practiced in most Muslim countries points to a need for a radical transformation of thought and practice. Here’s one short, but interesting perspective from the Belfast Telegraph, "Why it is time for and Islamic Reformation."