Saudi newspaper publishes rare interview with Israeli citizen. Here’s what I said to “Al-Riyadh” about Iran and MBS’s vision for moderation, reform and peace.


(Jerusalem, Israel) — It is not every day that a Saudi newspaper publishes an interview with an Israeli Jewish citizen from an Evangelical faith, especially one discussing some of the most important and controversial matters in the Kingdom and region.

Yet to their credit, Al-Riyadh, a newspaper located in the capital of Saudi Arabia, published just such an interview with me yesterday. Indeed, it was their reporter who initiated the conversation.

It should be noted that the article never mentions that I am an Israeli, or that I did the interview by phone from my home in Jerusalem. The article also carefully avoids using the word “Israel,” even though I mentioned Israel repeatedly during the interview.

That said, overall, I regard this as a very positive development.

I am deeply grateful to three Arab friends in the region who translated the article from Arabic for me. I have synthesized their translations together — and spent a good deal of time on the phone with one of them — to provide a good and fair English translation. I hope you’ll take a moment to read it below. Then, please feel free to send me your comments via Twitter or my “Epicenter Team” page on Facebook. Thanks.


By Hadeel Oueiss, Al-Riyadh newspaper, May 21, 2020

The reforms that Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman are making are historic and having positive and dramatic effects on the Saudi kingdom and the region, says Joel Rosenberg, who is president of an association of Evangelical Christian leaders [that has met with numerous Arab leaders throughout the region, including MBS].

Such reforms show that Saudi Arabia wants to lead on initiatives regarding peace and moderation that will change the path of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East towards a better future, guided by young leadership and a new vision.

Rosenberg told the Al-Riyadh newspaper that the Iranian threat is the main danger that the Middle East must work to confront, and he praised the strategy of the Crown Prince towards Iran.

This strategy is based on strengthening the Kingdom’s stability and diversifying diplomatic relationships with other countries that would join Saudi Arabia in stopping Iran from exporting its evil and terrorism and who are willing to stand on common ground with the Saudis against Iran.

The strategy also involves not compromising towards Iran or removing the pressure on Iran that has led to internal struggle within the mullahs’ regime. Iran is facing collapse due to a serious economic crisis and the rejection of their own people. 

Rosenberg also added, “I see that Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of the Crown Prince, is making important strides in its ability to expand Saudi alliances and partnerships. This will bring about strategic and economic gains for the country, especially since two-thirds of the Saudi people are young, under the age of 30. They are looking to take advantage of the full potential of Saudi Arabia.”

“The aspirations of this generation – and the challenges they face – are different from what the previous generation experienced. The Saudi youth of today did not grow up experiencing the traditional conflicts of the region and have not been personally affected by them. They did not witness the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973. It is a new generation with different experiences and new needs that the Crown Prince is dealing with as he builds new international relationships and plans that provide for the needs of these young people and a different vision of the future.”

“At its core, this is a thoroughly Saudi vision, more than ever before, and it concerns Saudi youth, their economic future, and how to change policies in order to serve the economy and to improve the quality of lives of individuals in Saudi Arabia.”

Rosenberg said that improving the standard of living and diversifying the economy is what all modern and stable countries seek and countries must draw their foreign policy accordingly, seeking to maintain good relationships with countries on all sides and dealing with other people regardless of their ideologies.

These goals are the focus of the Crown Prince’s vision, which is to create a future with a promising economy and political environment that is in harmony with the aspiration of the youth, rather than certain ideologies that would not be helpful for their future. 

Rosenberg also revealed a new opinion poll that he conducted in partnership with a company run by the American pollster, John McLaughlin. It found that more than 50% of the American people will support the Crown Prince and Saudi Arabia if they open to the world and work for peace in the region. [See note below.]

Rosenberg concluded, “My personal experience in meeting the Crown Prince was very positive, and perhaps a small example of the future of Saudi Arabia – a country that is open to welcoming others, that has the goal of deepening Saudi relations with the rest of the world. It is definitely in the national interest of the Saudis to diversify their economy and achieve this by diversifying relations with every country in the world and making Saudi Arabia a country that leads the efforts towards peace and moderation in the Middle East.”


NOTE: It should be noted that the poll question cited in the article was not specifically about Saudi Crown Prince MBS. It was a question about whether the American people would view more favorably any Arab leader who chooses to sign a peace treaty with Israel in the near future. I will publish the exact question and poll results soon.



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