By Aaron Kliegman\u00a0 This past year\u00a0was one\u00a0we won\u2019t miss. From\u00a0racial tensions to\u00a0a deadly pandemic,\u00a0the\u00a0turmoil and disruptions\u00a0of 2020\u00a0tested America\u2019s resolve. And the presidential election further intensified our deep political divisions.\u00a0 Still,\u00a0there\u00a0was a bright spot amid the bleakness. We just need to look\u00a0to\u00a0the unlikeliest of places: the most chaotic,\u00a0volatile region in the world.\u00a0 Despite all the adversity of 2020, the Middle East\u00a0made history\u00a0this year\u00a0through the Abraham Accords,\u00a0a series of Arab-Israeli agreements\u00a0which the Trump administration brokered.\u00a0 Specifically, four Arab states\u00a0agreed to normalize relations with Israel in as many months. First, the United Arab Emirates signed on.\u00a0Bahrain soon joined, followed by Sudan and, most recently, Morocco.\u00a0 In fact, just this week, White House senior adviser Jared Kusher flew\u00a0aboard the first direct commercial Israeli flight from Israel to Morocco. He was part of an\u00a0Israeli-American delegation, which held high-level talks with Moroccan officials, including\u00a0King Mohammed VI.\u00a0\u00a0 The Abraham Accords represent the\u00a0most significant\u00a0step toward Arab-Israeli peace\u00a0in decades. And what\u2019s so striking is the spirit of these agreements.\u00a0 True,\u00a0Egypt and Jordan have had peace treaties with Israel for decades, but they\u00a0lacked warmth. Bahrain and the UAE are the Jewish state\u2019s first Arab friends, as both sides develop intimate ties through trade and tourism. Sudan and Morocco may not be as friendly, but they are still embracing normalization, discussing all kinds of economic deals.\u00a0 To appreciate how momentous the Abraham Accords are, one has to consider Arab-Israeli history \u2014 namely, the Arab world\u2019s\u00a0virulent antisemitism\u00a0and\u00a0hostility to the Jewish state.\u00a0 In 1945,\u00a0for example,\u00a0the Arab League began its first collective boycott of Jews in\u00a0the land of Israel, which was then called\u00a0Mandatory Palestine\u00a0while\u00a0under British administration.\u00a0 \u201cThe products of Palestinian Jews,\u201d the league\u2019s resolution\u00a0stated, \u201care to be regarded as undesirable in Arab states. They should be boycotted and prohibited, as long as their production in Palestine is liable to bring about the realization of the Zionist political goals.\u201d\u00a0 The following year, the boycott extended to \u201canything Jewish.\u201d\u00a0 Sudan, Morocco, Bahrain, and the UAE all later jointed the Arab League (in that order), signing onto the boycott, which only intensified over time.\u00a0 All four countries also supported United Nations Resolution 3379, which\u00a0stated \u201cthat Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.\u201d Of course, Zionism is simply\u00a0the desire and resolve of Jews to\u00a0reestablish, and then preserve, their national homeland in the land of Israel.\u00a0Demonizing\u00a0this fundamental part of Jewish identity is\u00a0a particularly insidious form of antisemitism.\u00a0 No country was more complicit in this dark history than Saudi Arabia,\u00a0which prohibited importers\u00a0from\u00a0dealing with businesses\u00a0that had\u00a0Jewish owners or employees.\u00a0 Moreover,\u00a0Saudi Arabia\u2019s late\u00a0founder,\u00a0King Ibn Saud, once told a British colonel that \u201cour hatred for the Jews dates from God\u2019s condemnation of them\u201d for rejecting Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad.\u00a0 \u201cFor a Muslim to kill a Jew,\u201d he added, \u201cor for him to be killed by a Jew,\u00a0ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty.\u201d\u00a0 Subsequent Saudi leaders\u00a0carried\u00a0with them this\u00a0horrible hatred of Jews \u2014 and therefore of Israel \u2014 including\u00a0the current monarch, King Salman.\u00a0 Which makes it all the more remarkable that Saudi Arabia, the biggest prize of all\u00a0for Arab-Israeli peace,\u00a0is currently considering whether to normalize relations with Israel. It seems to be a matter of when, not if.\u00a0 Indeed,\u00a0Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman\u00a0is\u00a0much more willing to build closer ties to the Jewish state than his elderly father, the king.\u00a0According to\u00a0reports,\u00a0however,\u00a0the crown prince\u00a0wants to use the prospect of\u00a0a deal\u00a0with Israel\u00a0to build better ties with Joe Biden and his administration.\u00a0So, don\u2019t expect any breakthroughs with Saudi Arabia over the next month.\u00a0 There are\u00a0also\u00a0rumors that one or two other Arab and Muslim countries may create diplomatic ties with Israel before President\u00a0Donald\u00a0Trump\u00a0leaves office. (Oman and Indonesia have been the two names\u00a0reported\u00a0most often.)\u00a0 None of this would be possible without President Trump, whose bold and unorthodox methods opened doors of Middle Eastern diplomacy that, according to conventional wisdom,\u00a0had been long\u00a0welded shut.\u00a0 No one articulated the\u00a0conventional wisdom more accurately \u2014 and foolishly \u2014 than John Kerry.\u00a0 \u201cThere will be no separate peace between Israel and the Arab world. I want to make that very clear to all of you,\u201d Kerry\u00a0said\u00a0at the Brookings Institution\u00a0in 2016. \u201cI\u2019ve heard several\u00a0prominent politicians in Israel sometimes saying, well, the Arab world\u2019s in a different place now, and we just have to reach out to\u00a0them,\u00a0and we can work some things with the Arab world, and we\u2019ll deal with the Palestinians. No. No, no,\u00a0and no.\u201d\u00a0 And then he added this nugget: \u201cThere will be no advance and separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and Palestinian peace. Everybody needs to understand that. That is a hard reality.\u201d\u00a0 At least 2020 showed how wrong\u00a0the so-called experts of the diplomatic establishment\u00a0are \u2014 at least concerning the\u00a0Arab-Israeli conflict.\u00a0 Trump\u00a0saw\u00a0that Israel and\u00a0Arab states\u00a0shared a\u00a0chief\u00a0threat in Iran and capitalized on this common interest. His tough policies toward Iran\u00a0and support for Israel\u00a0had a unifying effect in the Middle East.\u00a0 But that\u2019s only part of what made the Abraham Accords happen. Arab leaders finally recognized that Israel is here to stay and that they have much to gain from closer ties with the Jewish state \u2014 especially through investment to develop their economies.\u00a0Israel\u2019s mastery of counterterrorism and high tech appealed to even some of its most hardened adversaries.\u00a0 Naturally, critics dismiss the Abraham Accords as a series of transactional deals.\u00a0The UAE, this argument goes,\u00a0only agreed to\u00a0peace in order to\u00a0get F-35 fighter jets from the US, Sudan did so to get removed from America\u2019s list of state sponsors of terrorism, and Morocco only signed on because Washington would\u00a0recognize its sovereignty over the Western Sahara region.\u00a0 Perhaps these critics also think Japan and Germany\u00a0suddenly became\u00a0American allies after singing kumbaya\u00a0while holding hands\u00a0in a circle. After all, such criticism stems from an idealistic worldview in which peace is achieved by enemies magically embracing each other. The reality is\u00a0much harsher:\u00a0that, throughout history, peace has been the result of wars or shady deals.\u00a0 It\u2019s not perfect, but peace is still something to be celebrated.\u00a0 If any human other than Trump brokered these deals,\u00a0he or she would\u00a0be guaranteed the Nobel Peace Prize. Of course, it was\u00a0Trump, so naturally\u00a0don\u2019t expect the 45th\u00a0president to be praised as he should be.\u00a0 The big question now is whether Biden can build on the momentum that Trump created. If Biden pursues the same policies as president that he supported as vice president \u2014 appeasing Iran and distancing\u00a0the US\u00a0from Israel, then the amazing progress of the last four years will stall.\u00a0 What we know for sure today is that the Abraham Accords and the Trump administration\u2019s diplomacy in the Middle East were rare high points in a year full of lows. Above all, they offer a bit of hope for 2021.