Mohammed Saud, the Saudi activist, stunned people when he showed up in Israel for a visit last week along with five other activists and journalists, including one from Iraq. I for one, was not stunned at all. Mohammed had told me that he had been invited to visit Israel, a few months before. We spoke almost daily. Mohammed was extremely excited about this trip, and mentioned during his interview that visiting Israel was his “greatest dream.” His dream did come true, but probably not in the way that he envisioned it.
While visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque last Monday, Mohammed was recognized by some Palestinians who then assaulted him both verbally and physically. On the verbal level, many slurs were used against him: He was told to “go pray in a synagogue” and was called a “Zionist.” On a physical level, he was pushed, spat on, and had chairs and other objects hurled at him. Luckily, he managed to escape without injury. Videos of the incidents went viral on social media, and news agencies all over the world reported on the story.
Mohammed also visited the Knesset, where he met with numerous government officials including Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Mohammed adores. According to news reports, when Mohammed met Bibi, he sang a Hebrew poem written by Israeli poet Leah Goldberg.
When I saw the videos of Mohammed being attacked, I immediately reached out to him to ask if he was okay, but he never answered. It was odd; in the past Mohammed would respond to my messages, within seconds. Literally. Now, he was completely ignoring them. He also stopped using Twitter, on which he was extremely active in the past.