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UAE-Israel Agreement Takes Social Media by Storm
Palestinians protest against the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates on August 16 in the northern Gaza Strip. (Mahmoud Issa/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

UAE-Israel Agreement Takes Social Media by Storm

Reactions range from hate and disappointment among Palestinians, to love and excitement among Israelis and Emiratis

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday invited the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, to visit Jerusalem.

Bin Zayed, colloquially known as MbZ, is also deputy supreme commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces and plays a leading role in shaping UAE foreign policy.

The invitation came after last week’s announcement of an agreement to normalize relations between the UAE and Israel, which sparked reactions on social media that ranged from serious analyses and opinions to expressions of supreme excitement and outright dread.

The official Palestinian stance was to condemn the announcement, and the reactions of officials and activists on social media reflected this. Most simply denounced the agreement, while others were devoted to analyzing its consequences for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Veteran politician Hanan Ashrawi wrote: “May you never experience the agony of having your country stolen; may you never feel the pain of living in captivity under occupation; may you never witness the demolition of your home or murder of your loved ones. May you never be sold out by your ‘friends.’”

Jalal, a Palestinian activist, wrote: “We’ve known for a while that everything is working against us. We lost faith in others standing up for us a long time ago. We’re crushed, hopeless and so f***ing alone in facing great powers who just wish we’d disappear. To them, we are not a people, we are a problem. It hurts.”

After many aggressive debates between Palestinians and their supporters, and Emiratis and others who welcomed the agreement, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, in a tweet, drew a distinction between Emiratis and their leaders.

“The Emirati people are our people. The UAE flag is an Arab flag. Our rejection of normalization does not affect our respect toward our people in the #UAE,” he wrote.

It was notable that the majority of posts from Emiratis and Israelis, officials and non-officials alike, welcomed the agreement.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent out a tweet in Arabic saying: “Welcome to new followers from the UAE and the Gulf countries! #Israel_the Emirates.”

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem and co-founder of the Gulf Israel Business Council, tweeted: “I am honored to invite all our new #Emirati friends to #Jerusalem as soon as possible. There is much that unites us and much we can go [sic] to bring prosperity to all peoples of the region. We look forward to our new friendship #GulfNation #tourism #UAEIsrael.”

Hassan from the UAE tweeted: “The UAE and Israel today write history. Finally we, Emiratis, will be able to pray at Al Aqsa Mosque.”

Ali wrote: “Who will join?? Trip to #TelAviv from Dubai #IsraelUAE. Definitely am not using Turkish airline, #UAE_Message_Peace.”

Yahida, an Israeli, tweeted: “The historic peace agreement between @Israel and UAE was achieved through strength and not weakness. No land swaps. Peace for peace. This is what US leadership looks like. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for unlocking this opportunity which benefits the region. #UAEIsrael #peacedeal.”

And a webpage called “UAE Loves Israel,” which was created right after the agreement was announced, says: “WELLCOME [sic] MY FRIENDS. Follow me. I follow back.”

Activists shared video of an Emirati citizen who had expressed hatred toward Israel in previous years, sending an official letter of apology. The activists accused him of cowardice and hinted that Emirati authorities forced him to apologize.

The citizen said in the new video: “I had a previous video in which I demanded that Israel be burned, and there was a big fire in Israel in which many things were burned, and I was asking countries to take advantage of this opportunity in order to crush Israel. But I discovered that Israel is stronger than these countries, and that is why I offer my apology to the Israeli people, and to Benjamin Netanyahu; an official apology in an official video.”

And while many wonder what will happen to the Palestinians resident in the Emirates, Rana Ibrahim, a Palestinian who used to work for the Dubai Police, wrote: “Notice: I pledge to boycott #Emirates due to its betrayal of the Palestinian cause.”

There was more.

“The Dubai Police, from which I recently resigned, reported that I will not attend work in order to cancel my residency and waive my end of service reward, in addition to my experience certificate, because I reject all forms of cooperation and communication with everyone who cooperates with the Zionist entity. #Palestine_Arabia,” she wrote.

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