Maureen Dowd spent a week in Saudi Arabia, presumably without having to wear the hijab or be smacked on her tush by themutaween to get her to pray. But now that she’s been to Riyadh, she is also an expert, an expert not so much on the huge peninsula but on Israel. Great place to learn!

You see, the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, has actually instructed her on Israeli politics. “[Faisal] warned me,” she tells us, “that Israel’s ultra-conservative religious groups were ‘killing every option that comes out that has peace in its objective’.” Of course, it is true that the prince--don’t be too impressed by the title: there are more princes in Saudi Arabia than taxi drivers--knows a whole lot about “ultra-conservative religious groups.” For instance, and just as an instance, 15 out of the 19 pious 9/11 hijackers hailed from Saudi Arabia.

I wonder, in fact, how many of Faisal’s royal cousins, if not actually his brothers (and perhaps he himself), have contributed to the ultramontane in Muslim politics and theology.

The Saudis have played their petro card very well, ever since Franklin Roosevelt went to visit Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud until Barack Obama bowed before Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the latter being one of the remaining five sons of the former, who was the country’s first king.

Dowd has not recorded whether she asked Faisal any tough questions about the kingdom’s attitude towards Israel.

What we know ourselves is that the monarchy would bless Netanyahu if he were to destroy the atomic arsenal of its great theological adversary.

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