By Paul Miller
When news broke that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to “full normalization of relations” with Israel, enemies of peace let it be known that they reject such ties with the Jewish state. In that context, it’s become apparent that, for some, “normalization” is a bad word. If you despise Israel and support efforts to wipe the Jewish state off the map, the very idea that there might be something “normal” about relations with Israel is appalling.
“We strongly condemn, in all possible ways, normalization with Israel,” declared a spokesman for the terror organization Hamas. Meanwhile, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted that the accord would “further normalize” Palestinian suffering.
Ben Rhodes, a former deputy national security advisor in the Obama administration, claimed the deal was “dressed up as an election-eve achievement from two leaders who want Trump to win.” These individuals and groups find themselves on the same side as Iran — the nation which couldn’t resoundingly condemn the peace accord fast enough.
Indeed, fighting normalization with Israel has been the raison d’être for the enemies of peace for decades. Since its founding in 2005, the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has refused to hold debates or conversations about achieving peace because it would require a form of “normalization” with supporters of the Jewish state, which the BDS website defines as “events/projects that are designed to bring together Palestinians/Arabs and Israelis so they can work toward reconciliation.”
Normalization means simply bringing people together so they can resolve conflict. This is somehow a bad thing, according to Rhodes, Tlaib, and supporters of boycotting Israel.
Much of the press coverage of the peace accord cited the existing “cold peace” relationships that Egypt and Jordan maintain with Israel, and the potential for a warmer peace between Israel and the UAE. But the Muslim-majority nation of Azerbaijan befriended Israel decades ago and has enjoyed a strikingly warm peace with the Jewish state since 1992.
“Normalization between #Israel and the #UAE is a historic step towards a future of peace, prosperity, and hope,” tweeted Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan George Deek. “For nearly 30 years, #Azerbaijan has been a model to other Muslim-majority countries, showing what could be achieved through partnership & friendship with #Israel.”
In a recent interview with the Haym Salomon Center, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the United States Elin Suleymanov noted that his country’s relationship with Israel “is based on a longstanding friendship between the Jewish and Azerbaijani people. Both nations benefit mutually from this great relationship beginning as trade partners. Recently, when members of the Azerbaijani community in Los Angeles were victims of what’s being investigated as a hate crime, it was Jewish groups that first denounced the violence.”
Suleymanov was referring to the Los Angeles Police Department’s ongoing hate-crime investigation into assaults against Azerbaijanis during last month’s Armenian-organized protest outside Azerbaijan’s consulate in that city.
Suleymanov noted his country’s pride in its relationship with Israel and its participation for the last six years at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference. He added that he was “incredibly saddened” at the rockets being launched by terrorist groups at the Israeli civilian population, which he witnessed firsthand when he was last in Israel.
The ambassador compared terrorist rocket attacks against Israel to last month’s Armenian artillery and rocket fire against civilian residential areas of Azerbaijan. “Nations need to be pragmatic and, sure, there will be grievances, but you can’t act that way,” the ambassador said. “The shelling of civilian residential areas is not the behavior of 21st-century civilized countries.”
Efforts to normalize relations with other Muslim nations appear to be well underway. Oman, Bahrain, and Sudan are expected to soon join the UAE’s normalization with Israel. Much of the region is coming to realize that partnering with Israel trumps Iranian hegemony.
Normalization with Israel opens a brand-new world to countries that seek peace with their Jewish neighbors — notably, the access to state-of-the-art technology for health care, agriculture, defense, and telecommunications that comes with having Israel as a trade partner. Muslim nations have also benefited from cultural exchanges, Israeli tourism, and Israel’s policy of welcoming Muslims and Christians to visit their holy sites in the Jewish state.
There is plenty of room for the Palestinians and the entire Muslim world to get on the normalization train. It hasn’t yet left the station, and the destination is a good one.