What is Israel's best fighter jet

Israel and the UAE: soccer and jet fighter for the new best friends

In Washington on Wednesday an attempt by a bipartisan group of Democratic and Republican senators to prevent one of the most spectacular arms deals in recent times failed: a $ 23 billion arms deal involving the sale of up to fifty American F-35s. Includes fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The sale of ammunition was also up for debate, without consequences: the opponents cited negatively the involvement of the UAE in the Yemen conflict, which has since been severely reduced, and the UAE's support for the Libyan General Khalifa Haftar.

"Very comfortable"

The special thing about the sale of the F-35 - according to experts the best product on the market, which so far only Israel has in the Middle East - is, however, who, besides the UAE lobbyists in Washington, also campaigned for it: the Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer together with his Emirati colleague Yousef al-Otaiba appeared on MSNBC's morning show on Monday.

He was "very comfortable" with the F-35, said Dermer and added a point against the upcoming US President Joe Biden: Sleepless nights would rather give him the idea that someone could return to the nuclear deal with Iran.

"Qualitative military edge"

The UAE are an ally against Tehran, and he is not afraid of the US commitment to look at Israel's "qualitative military edge", said Dermer. To persuade the senators, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and Middle East advisor, Jared Kushner, was also sent into the race.

The discussion is still not over as to whether the US willingness to sell the fighter jet to the UAE was an integral part of the Israeli-Emirati normalization package. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also criticized for this in Israel. In any case, the current status is that business is going through - and it is noisy until the jets are delivered New York Times could take up to eight years.

Sports shopping tour

However, the Israeli-Emirati normalization is also being brought to life elsewhere. At the beginning of the week it was announced that an Emirati sheikh is buying 50 percent of the Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem. Hamad bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is a member of the Abu Dhabi Royals and cousin of the powerful Crown Prince and de facto ruler of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed.

The specialty of the purchase is that Beitar Jerusalem not only has normal mainstream fans, but also a core of heavily racist supporters, called "La Familia". It's noisy Haaretz the only Israeli club in which no Arabs play - and non-Arab Muslim players who were hired were literally expelled.

For "La Familia" the motto "Forever pure" applies. Correspondingly great was the horror of these fans - some of whom declare themselves supporters of the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein and the murderer of Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir - about the negotiations with the Gulf Arab. That part of Israel that detests this racism, however, cheers: "The sale of Beitar to the Arabs is the clearest sign that there is a God," tweeted about the Haaretz-Journalist Noa Landau ironically.

Ex oriente lux

Sheikh Hamad, whose son Mohammed will sit on the board of Beitar, has a congenial partner with Beitar owner Moshe Hogeg, who only took over the club in 2018 and describes himself as a "Jewish Arab". He has a Tunisian born father and a Moroccan mother. The sheikh's appearance at the signing of the treaty in Dubai was almost bizarre in the face of - also local - Islamic debates: He promised to lead the young Israeli "brainwashed" people from the darkness into the light, they were only young ignorant people. Awareness from the UAE.

A lot is happening on the Israeli-Emirati, but also on the Israeli-Bahraini level - while the connection that Trump and Kushner had relied on as the most important symbol of their "peace plan" for the Middle East currently appears to be stuck.

Verbal broadside

A settlement with the Palestinians on the part of the former Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, in a multi-part TV interview in October seemed to signal new Saudi political priorities. On Sunday, however, another important Saudi political dinosaur spoke up, with exactly the opposite in terms of content: Prince Turki al-Faisal, also a former ambassador to Washington and long-time secret service chief, gave the Israelis a violent broadside on Sunday at the "Manama Dialogue".

In the audience sat Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and listened as Turki spoke of Israel as the "last Western colonial power" and of "concentration camps". The fact that Dore Gold, ex-diplomat and Netanyahu confidante, was there may have contributed to his ride: his book about Saudi Arabia is entitled "Kingdom of Hate". (Gudrun Harrer, December 11th, 2020)