90% of Arab social media posts oppose normalization with Israel

Most of the negative push stems from open Israeli enemies Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, as well as the Palestinian Authority.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Arab social media has been flooded with messages against the UAE and Bahraini plans to normalize ties with Israel, with 90% disapproving of the move, according to an Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry report on Monday.

The ministry examined uploads to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube between August 12, after the UAE made its historic announcement, and September 8, right before the Abraham Accords were signed at the White House between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.

The vast majority of the negative posts were by supporters of Israel’s open enemies – Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas – and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA was the first to say that the UAE had betrayed the Palestinian cause by reaching an agreement with Israel, and this was the main reason, used by 45% of the users, to oppose the new ties.

“Normalization is treason” was a leading hashtag in the social media accounts. Another popular hashtag was “Bahrainis against normalization.” Together, the two hashtags reached more than 100 million users over the month, said the report.

Other groups that are pushing the anti-normalization line are “a series of civil society organizations that promote the delegitimization of Israel,” said the report, including those in favor of BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions). This was reflected in the 27% who objected to making deals with “Zionists” in general.

Others charged the UAE with hypocrisy, capitulating to American interests, or doing it for economic profit.

The 10% who had something positive to say focused mainly on the security benefits (61%) or economic ones (33%). Iraqi activists were among the main supporters, and the report said many were in favor of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.

The report also made recommendations for combating the orchestrated negativity, considering the immense influence that social media has today. It suggested an inter-ministerial, coordinated campaign focusing on the Gulf countries and others that have expressed an interest in possibly following the UAE lead, which would present the technological, security, medical and other advantages of making peace with Israel.

“Given the crucial importance of the normalization processes for the future of the Middle East, and in light of the hate speech attack against our recent Gulf partnerships, we will work to promote a long-term positive mindset in Arabic, which will present the benefits of peace while challenging the narrative against it,” said Minister of Strategic Affairs Orit Farkash-Hacohen.

Farkash-Hacohen is about to exchange her post for the Tourism Ministry, which became vacant when fellow Blue and White minister Asaf Zamir resigned 10 days ago. Blue and White MK Michael Biton has been tapped to be the new head of Strategic Affairs.