But Iqbal Jassat’s bizarre charge that Israel is behind the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar has taken things to an altogether new level. ("Connecting the dots: Israel’s role in Qatar’s blockade", June 11.)
While tensions between Qatar and other states in the region have long been brewing, the move by Saudi Arabia and some six other countries to sever ties with and impose a blockade against Qatar has obviously taken the international community by surprise, and no one at this stage can say for sure what is behind it all.
Reasons advanced by the various global pundits include Qatar’s friendly ties with Saudi Arabia’s regional adversary Iran, its alleged support for terrorist or Islamist organisations like al-Qaeda, Islamic State, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s supposed hosting of "hostile media" antagonistic towards the Saudi regime (particularly Al-Jazeera) and simple economic jealousy.
Objections to Qatar’s well-known support for Hamas are based on the fact that this undermines the Palestinian Authority and Egypt, not on pro-Israeli sympathies.
Mention of Israel rarely surfaces in these analyses.
In fact, one of the few times this comes up is in a context that contradicts outright Jassat’s thesis that it is all about the Saudis wanting to cosy up to Israel.
One of the incidents immediately leading up to the current crisis breach was a report in which Qatar’s ruling emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, described his country’s relations with Israel as being "good", as well as praising Iran.
Saudi Arabia objected to these revelations, and was unappeased by Qatar’s attempt to explain away the article as “fake news”.
The reality is that diplomatic relations between Israel and Qatar commenced more than a decade ago, while trade relations have been maintained since 1996.
By contrast, there are still no diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia; all that can be said at this stage is that behind-the-scenes diplomatic and intelligence co-operation has taken place between the two countries.
The Middle East situation is chaotic enough.
Do we really need conspiracy-mongerers postulating a hidden Zionist hand behind every crisis to further muddy the waters?
* David Saks is Associate Director, SA Jewish Board of Deputies
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.