The Accords: Act 1

Eli Epstein addressing the group with Mohamed Alabbar
Eli Epstein addressing the group with Mohamed Alabbar

By Eli Epstein and Alex Peterfreund

Published: Sun 30 Jan 2022, 9:00 AM

In less than a year and a half since the signing of the Abraham Accords, there has already been a remarkable degree of mutual engagement and success not only between governments but, perhaps more importantly, on a people-to-people level, building of trust and dialogue. Now, with the upcoming visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog, the still evolving relationship is poised to flourish to new heights.

Eli Epstein
Eli Epstein

Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to claim that the Abraham Accords is potentially the most significant development for the Jewish people since the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948. We are aware that this process is not without its harsh critics, particularly from countries that refuse to prioritize a future of tolerance, mutual respect, and a desire to provide fulfilling and productive lives for their citizens.

Alex Peterfreund
Alex Peterfreund

Israel and the United Arab Emirates share many core values. They are both countries that seek to balance ancient traditions with an enthusiastic pursuit of the benefits of modern science and technological advances. They are committed to their independence and believe that self-reliance and strength are the best way to assure the safety of their citizens. Both value and cherish the diversity of their populations and are rightfully proud to have members of several different faiths living in harmony. How tragically rare these values are in these times, most especially in the Middle East.

President Herzog will see the emerging Jewish community in the UAE, where each Shabbat, members of the multiple congregations recite a prayer for the well-being of the Rulers and Crown Princes of the UAE, and for the safety of their armed forces. He will see a Jewish school and kosher restaurants. And most amazing of all, he will hear from the leaders of the Jewish community that they live in peace and confidence, free from the alarming growth of antisemitism that has become so prevalent around the West.

There is, however, still much work to be done. For our part, we at Visions of Abraham are working to provide a pathway for all Jews to visit this country and see for themselves how quickly the UAE Jewish community is growing.

We are confident that their trips will be enlightening for everyone involved – Emiratis, and Jewish and non-Jewish visitors. In a world filled with despair and darkness, we are thrilled to both witness and be a part of this moment of hope and opportunity.

We join all Emiratis in saluting their brave leaders and extend a warm and embracing welcome to President Herzog.

Salaam, Shalom, peace!

Alex Peterfreund is the co-president and co-founder of the Jewish Council of the Emirates.

Eli Epstein is the co-founder of Visions of Abraham, a non-profit working to create and promote educational initiatives relating to interfaith programming between Muslims and Jews through content-driven experiential tours and high-level meetings for delegations from Jewish organisations.

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