In an unprecedented move, a senior Saudi Arabian professor from King Saud University in Riyadh has published an article in an Israeli journal," according to Tel Aviv University.
In his first article in Hebrew, Professor Mohammed Ibrahim Alghbban, head of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization and Hebrew Studies, claims that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had good relations with Jews and only disagreed with them on political, not religious, matters
The paper, titled "A Contribution to the Improvement of the Prophet Muhammad's Image in the Eyes of the Israeli Public: Muhammad's Alliances and Mail Exchanges with Jews from the Arabian Peninsula", was published in Kesher, a journal from the Shalom Rosenfeld Institute for Research of Jewish Media and Communication at Tel Aviv University.
"I hope that this academic cooperation is another step towards economic and political cooperation," said Professor Raanan Rein, head of Tel Aviv University's Shalom Rosenfeld Institute.
The article's publication comes amid increasingly warming ties between Israel and a number of Gulf states in recent years, including Saudi Arabia.
In the introduction to his article, Professor Alghbban states: "Erroneous assumptions about the origins of Islam, proposed by Oriental studies researchers in the previous century – some of which were written in Hebrew – led to a distorted understanding of manuscripts, wrong methodology, and negative influences on Hebrew speaking Middle Eastern Studies researchers."
"Accusing Islam and the Prophet Muhammad of hate speech and racism against Jewish tribes in Hejaz is erroneous. Muhammad treated equally all social groups in Madina and in other places under his control, regardless of race and religion. The misrepresentations in the research are due to the fact that his letters were never translated into Hebrew."
While Saudi Arabia and Israel do not share official diplomatic ties, many have warned of Riyadh's apparent normalisation of relations with Israel and the dangerous shift of Saudi officials adopting the Israeli narrative, which is raising serious concerns about the future for Palestine.