Scenes of Palestinians burning and trampling flags of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and pictures of its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, have sparked a wave of protests in a number of Arab countries. Pictured: Palestinians in Ramallah burn pictures of Bin Zayed and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, on August 15, 2020. (Photo by Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty Images)
Scenes of Palestinians burning and trampling flags of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and pictures of its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, have sparked a wave of protests in a number of Arab countries. Their citizens are accusing the Palestinians of ingratitude, treason and hypocrisy.
The powerful reactions of many Arabs to the Palestinian campaign of incitement against the UAE -- after its agreement establish relations with Israel -- are yet another sign of the increased disillusionment in the Arab world with the Palestinians.
The message the Arabs are sending to the Palestinians is roughly, "We are fed up with you and your cause. You people are ungrateful, hypocritical and vindictive. Decade after decade, we pumped billions of dollars into your coffers -- and now you have the arrogance to burn our flags and pictures of our leaders and hurl insults at us."
As Emirati academic Dr. Waseem Yousef wrote on Twitter: "It is stupid to burn my country's flag and want me to salute you." In other posts, Yousef commented on the Israel-UAE deal: "When I see the flag of my country being burned by some Palestinians because of the peace treaty with Israel – I apologize to every Israeli man if I offended him in the past."
Yousef also wrote: "The happiness of the Israeli people with the peace agreement shocked me. I was not expecting it – the peoples want peace".
Most of the Arabs who feel offended and betrayed by the Palestinians are citizens of the UAE and Saudi Arabia who have taken to social media outlets and other platforms to express their disgust with the Palestinians and their Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The hashtags, managed by citizens of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are basically telling the Palestinians that the Arabs are fed up with them and their failed leaders. The UAE and Saudi citizens are also using the social media posts to express outrage over the Palestinians' growing incitement against several Arab states and their leaders, particularly concerning readiness of some Arabs to normalize their relations with Israel.
"Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the most powerful supporters of Palestine," noted one of the UAE-affiliated accounts on Twitter. "Imagine that in just 17 years, Saudi Arabia paid [the Palestinians] $6 billion and the UAE $2.5 billion. This means that in 40 years, we are talking about no less than $20 billion. I expect that had we spent this money on Israel, its people would have converted to Islam."
"We spent on the Palestinians what is equivalent of the budgets of five African countries, and in the end they cursed us and accused us of being traitors," replied another UAE-affiliated social media user, referring to charges by Palestinian leaders that the UAE has "betrayed Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem and Palestine" by agreeing to establish relations with Israel.
A number of Saudi and Emirati political activists and academics seized the opportunity to remind the world of the Palestinians' previous meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries, specifically Jordan and Lebanon.
The activists and academics reminded the Palestinians and other Arabs of the PLO's involvement in the 1970 Jordanian crisis, also known as Black September, when the Jordanian Armed Forces clashed with PLO members who were acting as a state within a state in the kingdom.
Tensions between the PLO and the Jordanians reached a peak in September 1970. A week after the failed assassination of King Hussein on September 1, four airliners were hijacked by the PLO's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), prompting the Jordanian government to declare martial law in the kingdom. In the next few weeks, heavy fighting erupted between the Palestinians and the Jordanian army. By the summer of 1971, all Palestinian forces had been expelled from Jordan to Lebanon.
They Saudis and Emiratis also reminded everyone of the role the PLO played in the Lebanese civil war, which erupted in 1975 and resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.
"On April 13, 1975, a series of skirmishes started when the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) guerrillas on a bus fired weapons as they passed a church," according to Calude Salhani, a columnist for The Arab Weekly.
"When they refused to be diverted by [Christian] Phalangist militias directing traffic, an altercation took place in which the PLO bus driver was killed. Some time later, unidentified gunmen approached the church in two cars and opened fire, killing four people. That date is now considered the start of the civil war. A major contributor was religion. Another was the presence of heavily armed Palestinian commandos."
The Arab political activists and academic did not forget to call out the Palestinians for their biggest betrayal of all Arabs: Supporting Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
According to some studies, hundreds of Palestinians joined the Iraqi security forces' newly established "popular army" in Kuwait and assisted in the oppression of the Kuwaiti people.
"During the day, the Palestinians hurl insults at the Gulf and accuse the Arabs of selling out [to Israel], but at night these Palestinians go to work in Jewish bars," according to another comment posted under the hashtag "To Hell With You And Your Cause."
Several Gulf citizens have expressed gratitude to Israeli policemen who stopped Palestinians from burning UAE flags and photos of Bin Zayed during Friday prayers at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque.
"A thousand greetings to our [Jewish] cousins," commented Gulf citizen Adnan al-Ameri in response to a video showing Israeli policemen preventing Palestinians from trampling on a poster of Bin Zayed. "By God, they [the Israeli policemen] are more honorable than some of the [Palestinian] homeless. A video that deserves to be retweeted with full force."
The Palestinian leaders' strong condemnation of the UAE and other Arab states that support normalization with Israel has also driven many Arabs to raise the issue of financial corruption of the Palestinian leadership. Some Gulf citizens pointed out that the personal fortunes of Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal are worth at least $9 billion, while others claimed that Mahmoud Abbas's personal wealth is estimated at $200 million.
A public opinion poll published last year showed that 80% of Palestinians feel that they have been abandoned by the Arab countries. Judging from the reactions of many Arabs to the Palestinian campaign of incitement against Arab governments seeking peace with Israel, it is safe to assume that this percentage will increase sharply.
The Palestinians are good at making enemies, and this time it seems that they have been wildly successful in earning both the wrath and the disgust of a large number of Arabs. At this rate, the Palestinians will soon wake up to discover that they have more support in China and Europe than in their own backyard.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.