Three Arab writers opining on Middle East issues address:

  • whether time is now ripe for the pursuit of a meaningful peace between Israelis and Palestinians
  • an upcoming Islamic conference in Mecca to discuss issues of moderation, extremism, tolerance and coexistence
  • The inescapable “Trump factor” on American politics and beyond

(*Translation from the Arabic by Asaf Zilberfarb)


By Rami Al-Khalifa Al-Ali 

Okaz, Saudi Arabia, August 10

The Arab-Israeli conflict is one of the world’s longest-running and most tragic military standoffs, having brought great pain, death, and destruction to the region. Since the Nakba, various political actors have taken power in Israel without fully recognizing that there are other people in the land of Palestine who are entitled to their own peoplehood and homeland. Israel’s logic has been to implement changes on the ground that legitimize its superiority, yet this strategy has failed to create lasting peace and stability for the Jewish state. Military superiority may temporarily bring truces, but it cannot guarantee true peace. For decades, Israeli governments have been asking how they can garner the greatest gains under an imposed reality where Israel enjoys clear superiority over the Palestinians, who can only depend on the support of their Arab brethren and their own strength to withstand the situation. Perhaps it is time for Israel to reframe the question:

How can we live together on this land with the Palestinian people? How can we become an integral and genuine part of the region and its people?

Since the Madrid Conference [in 1991], we have missed out on numerous avenues to establish peace, yet today the prospects seem brighter. This is particularly true for Israel, where many citizens now recognize the looming threats arising from changes to the country’s political system. Numerous regional leaders have the potential, willingness, and capability to construct pathways toward peace. Here, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia deserves particular attention. He carries an expansive project that extends beyond the kingdom, encompassing the realism of economics, politics, and society. His Highness is determined to bring security and stability to the entire Middle East. Already, he has changed the face of the region in a brief period, beginning with the AlUla GCC Summit and the most recent Arab League Summit. These efforts led to successful negotiations with Iran, bridge building across the East and West, and the recent development of an international vision to broker a cease-fire in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Pursuing Peace. Some 15,000 Palestinians and Israelis came together this 2023 to ‘try to break the chain of revenge and hatred’ on the day Israel honours its soldiers. (Photo: Adam Sella/Al Jazeera)

Real peace requires consensus from both sides. If the Palestinians have strong leadership that desires peace, and if the Arab leadership is motivated and has an influential personality like Prince Mohammed bin Salman, then this is a great opportunity that may not present itself again. This message is not only directed at Tel Aviv but also Washington: The US has the means and power to contribute meaningfully to the pursuit of a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

  • Rami Al-Khalifa Al-Ali 


By Meshary Al-Dhaidi

Asharq Al-Awsat, London, August 11

With the generous blessing of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs is scheduled to host an Islamic conference in Mecca titled “Communication with the Departments of Religious Affairs, Ifta and Sheikhdoms in the World”. The conference, which will be held on August 13-14, will be attended by 150 scholars, as well as 85 muftis, sheikhs, thinkers, and academics who will discuss issues of moderation, extremism, tolerance, and coexistence between peoples.

This is, of course, a commendable quest and a noble effort. But who exactly is representing Islam in its current state? Who is the beacon to all Muslims around the world who rely on its guidance? Muslims are present all over the world, from Muslim-majority nations to the remotest corners of the Christian West. They have become citizens of those countries as well as influential political figures, from Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, and Sayeeda Warsi, former co-chair of Britain’s Conservative Party, to parliamentarians, city mayors, and community leaders. Some have even risen to the position of heads of security agencies. For many years, the call for a moderate culture that embraces the value of tolerance and coexistence has been a matter of imperative urgency, not only in Muslim countries but also far beyond their borders. This is because developing such a discourse and fostering its spread is no longer a concern exclusive to the Islamic faith but a global issue that affects everyone. The consequences of Islamic extremism are felt by all inhabitants of the planet, just like any other kind of extremism. Reaching the goal of forming a thriving Islamic society requires both great courage and political support, as well as persistent effort. The experts in Islamic law must determine if there is an agreed-upon understanding of what Islamic law is. Is it a primordial and undeniable truth? Or is it based on human understanding, such as reason and norm-making?

Conference on Religious Moderation. Around 150 eminent Islamic scholars, muftis, religious leaders, thinkers, heads of Islamic centers and association and academics from universities from 85 countries around the world participated in the conference.

Ultimately, it is up to the experts to make this determination. As the world grapples with the complexities of modern citizenship, legal responsibility, and belonging, the idea of the “nation” holds an ambiguous role. It is both an emotional vessel that binds a people to a larger civilizational framework and a concept that can have both fleeting and destructive implications. Throughout history, countless scholars have sought to understand and explain these issues. It is our sincere hope that those attending this conference, seeking goodwill for the citizens of the world, may have luck in their discussions and endeavors.

  • Meshary Al-Dhaidi


By Abdel-Moneim Said

Al-Ahram, Egypt, August 9

The start of the 21st century was marked by a tragic event when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York, as well as targets in Washington, including the Pentagon. In response, former US President George W. Bush declared a “war on terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq, although these attempts at creating an “American century” ultimately failed.

When Barack Obama entered office, he pursued an opposite approach of reducing the US’s involvement in global conflict. This ultimately set the stage for the election of Donald Trump, a vocal proponent of white nationalism. While he eventually lost the election to Joe Biden, his continued presence in American politics has caused a stir. He rejected the election’s results and incited violence from his supporters, leading to a storming of the Capitol in January 2021. The upcoming United States presidential election is certain to be electrifying, with the prosecution of former President Trump at its center. Trump has denied the 37 charges leveled against him, leading to a schism in the Republican Party between those who stand by the former president and those who don’t.

Enduring Donald. Despite appearances like this at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, Donal Trump remains an enduring presence on the world stage. (Photo.Timothy A. Clary/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Another area where the division has become evident is between the Democratic Party’s moderates, headed by President Biden, and the more radical left, headed by “the Squad”. Trump is facing numerous legal battles, including those pertaining to sexual assault, his alleged destabilization of the government, and the possession of confidential presidential documents following his departure from the White House. These sensational trials will prove to be a crucible for the US Constitution itself, as well as for global politics.

Abdel-Moneim Said 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

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