By COLlive reporter
It has been a full year since the historic Abraham Accords were signed on the White House lawn, marking the special mutual cooperation agreement between Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.
To mark the occasion, an elegant luncheon was held on Tuesday as part of a conference presented by the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, founded by former Senior Presidential Advisor Jared Kushner.
The conference and luncheon were held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC where remarks were offered by Rob Greenway, Director of the Institute, Kushner, and Ambassadors Gilad Erdan of Israel, Youssef Al Otaiba of the United Arab Emirates and Sheikh Abdullah al Rashid Al Khalifa of Bahrain.
After some insightful observations and discussion, the guests were treated to a lunch with many being provided with Glatt Kosher options, including Kushner himself.
It seems as if the announcement last year was about something that actually has staying power, as officials from the US Government, including acting Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs, Yael Lempert, as well Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), Chair of the Near East Subcommittee on the House Foreign Affairs Committee were in attendance.
They praised the Abraham Accords by name as “not an end but a beginning.” This sign of bipartisanship gives hope to so many, who have been wishing for a true and lasting peace, based on mutual recognition taking hold, they said.
There was a talk about investment between the UAE and Israel reaching a level of 1 Trillion Dollars and an agreement among the ambassadors that even if it was only 750 Billion, they wouldn’t complain. Even during Covid, when everything all but stopped commercially, they have now come close to a billion dollars in trade already – between Israel and the countries that used to boycott Israel! And 200,000 Israelis have visited the UAE since the agreement last year.
Recapping some history:
This development hearkens back to a time when the American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) interacted with the Ambassador of Bahrain to the US, Houda Nonoo, a Jewish woman who attended services at TheSHUL there, as well as His Excellency, Sheikh Khaled Al Halifa, Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, as well as His Majesty, King Hamad of Bahrain, who met first with Chabad leaders, and then with American Jewish leadership and ex-pat Bahraini Jews in the US, organized with help from the offices of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) in Washington, DC.
Years later, at American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad)’s annual Lamplighter Awards Dinner marked the first time an Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the US (Yousef Al-Otaiba) publicly attended a Jewish event, and this followed by several years the occasion when then-Ambassador of the Saudi Kingdom to the United States, Prince Turki Al Faisal attended a reception on Capitol Hill, co-hosted by American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) together with the American Jewish Committee, United Jewish Communities, and B’nai Brith International – the first time ever for a Saudi official at a public Jewish event. Those developments were obviously very elementary, but were remarked among some of the guests who came together today to mark not merely the announcement of an initiative, but to celebrate its obvious staying power and future a year later – as having been impactful and fortuitous. Front page news at the time, now they are considered routine.
So, “It seems that the region went from Insh’allah (Please G-d) to Al-Hamdulilah (Thank G-d) in a relatively short period of time as recognition of Israel’s role in the Middle East not as a modern-day intrusion, but rather a historical presence of thousands of years, has given way to a new recognition that mutual benefit is the way to go for the region,” said Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Executive Vice President of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) who has been active with senior officials of the region for years.
The guests were then given special souvenir pins to take with them as mementos of the occasion.