Ronald S Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, and president of theÂ UAE-Israel Business Summit, opened the conference, welcoming the participants to the landmark event. "For the first time," said Lauder, who was appointed as president of the Summit byÂ The Jerusalem PostÂ andÂ Khaleej Times, "an Israeli newspaper and a newspaper from the Arab world, working as partners have brought together distinguished politicians, experts, and intellectuals, from different nations in a conference for our future.
"People understand that 'salaam' and 'shalom' have the same meaning and carry the same message, which is one of hope," observed Lauder, who said that neighbours leading productive lives together in peace, dignity, and prosperity is far better than the alternative."
Lauder explained that as president of the World Jewish Congress, he has struggled againstÂ antisemitism. He declared that Islamophobia and hatred against other religions and races must be fought as well. There must be no room for any of this anywhere. We must fight all hatred together," said Lauder. "I know that future generations can lead better lives in peace, and it is my duty as a Jew because Abraham was the forefather of all of us."
In his numerous visits to the Middle East and North Africa, said Lauder, he met with leaders and ordinary people and noted that "we all have the same concerns and hopes and fears." Both Jews and Arabs, he pointed out, share a common bond as children of Abraham.
Lauder said that it is important to remember the efforts of leaders such as Sheik Zayid, the founder of the United Arab Emirates, who "believed in a multi-religious society," and the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, who devoted their lives to dreaming of peace between Israel and her Arab neighbours.
Ultimately, said Lauder, education is the key to greater understanding and a better future for all of the peoples of the Middle East. "We will fight prejudice through education, and we must also learn about the history of our peoples - in some cases, even the painful parts -- where deep wounds were inflicted. It won't always be easy, but we should never be afraid of honest dialogue."
Lauder added that his involvement in building a Jewish school in Dubai and the sight of so many Israelis visiting the Emirates in recent weeks are encouraging signs of normalcy and inclusiveness.Â He concluded his remarks by stating that the peace process and its accompanying discussions and activities can create goodwill not only for Israel and the United Arab Emirates but for the entire world.