Giving peace a chance

Ilan Sztulman Starosta consul-general of Israel Dubai reflects on one year of the Abrahamic Accords

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Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 9:34 AM

Last updated: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 9:36 AM

"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." I have chosen this Albert Einstein quote to reflect my feelings on the Abrahamic Accords.

When I was asked to be the Head of Mission of Israel in Dubai and establish the Consulate, my wife and I knew we were starting a journey unlike any other diplomatic mission we had undertaken as a family.

In the first weeks we wouldn't hold hands in public because we thought it might be construed as being disrespectful; but eventually we started to ask ourselves if we were in New York, Tel Aviv or in Dubai.

Today we have already made local friends for life, and it's much more substantial than I could have imagined.

For me, one of the moments that had a special value in this journey was when the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yair Lapid, inaugurated the Consulate General of Israel in Dubai. On that day, I affixed the traditional Jewish mezuzah containing Biblical verses to the doorstep of the Consulate, a moment that will remain in Jewish and Israeli memory.

I am also more than honoured to be the father of the first Israeli born in Dubai, which represents how much Israel is committed to the peace agreements and how strong the relations are.

A personal highlight for us was when a good Emirati friend inquired about the Passover holiday and then decided to join us for the ceremony. It was the first time in my life that I had a Passover ceremony with a Muslim friend. That moment perfectly encapsulated the essence of the Accords and symbolised what we are doing here. We are doing much more than ensuring peace between the UAE and Israel. We are making peace between Jews and Muslims and proving that this coexistence is possible and welcome!

I would describe the past year as a challenging year because of the Covid-19 issue, but I think overall, it was a very positive experience in the end.

The trade between the UAE and Israel is rising drastically. Already we are witnessing the establishment of Israeli companies in Dubai and also vice versa.

There are many other fields of cooperation like the space programme, youth cooperation, academic projects and much more.

Our deepest hope is that all the countries in the area will eventually establish formal relations with Israel, and spread the seeds of peace that the Abrahamic accords provided among all of us. We all have a duty to do our best to make this happen for us and the coming generations.

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