A French-Moroccan professor said earlier this month in an interview with an Arabic TV station that the Arab world’s attitude toward Israel is “archaic,” and that Iran is the primary threat to the region.
Prof. Youssef Chiheb told France 24 Arabic TV on February 12 that Middle East leaders had exploited the Palestinian cause for their own political gain and that the issue was no longer the primary concern for the region.
“In my opinion, the greater danger that threatens the Arab world is Iran, the Shi’ite movement in the region, and the proliferation of WMDs, and the spread of terrorism in the Sub-Sahara and the Sahel region,” Chiheb said, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute watchdog group.
“The Arab world has been brainwashed with anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli rhetoric. But the world has changed and so has the balance of power in the Middle East. Other dangers have risen, globalization has appeared, ideas have changed,” Chiheb said. “The Arab way of thinking towards Israel has become archaic. Israel must be dealt with as an existing state.”
When asked about the Palestinian cause being the “number one cause of the Arabs,” Chiheb said: “It was in the old days, but it’s over. It was part of the common tune, but all the Arab regimes have used the Palestinian cause for domestic purposes. No Arab leader has offered any solution for the Palestinians.”
He commended Israel’s relationship with Morocco, and noted that the two countries have shared intelligence in the past.
“Israel has no problem with Morocco. It does not hate Morocco,” he said. “Morocco is exceptional in the Arab world when it comes to its potential relations with Israel.”
He blamed Arab countries for scuppering a potential peace agreement between then prime minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat in 1999-2000, calling the outline “not the ‘deal of the century,’ but an opportunity of a lifetime.”
“The late Chairman Arafat was about to sign, but then the Arab countries intervened and accused him of treason,” Chiheb said.
Chiheb is a longtime university professor in Paris and an expert on Morocco, according to his LinkedIn profile.