The Algemeiner published an op-ed by B'nai B'rith International President Charles O. Kaufman on the historic Abraham Accords and the official signing ceremony at the White House.
Witnessing the Abraham Accords signing last week generated the kind of stimulation that usually accompanies a very strong cup of coffee. The effect of such excitement? It’s tough to fall asleep.
The night of September 15, in fact, was different from all other nights. That familiar phrase is generally reserved for a spring holiday that involves the story of the Exodus, unleavened bread, four glasses of wine, a popular spread of chopped apples, cinnamon and wine, and, finally, a proclamation to gather in Jerusalem. Four questions address what makes this night of the treaties different from all other nights.
In the context of the Abraham Accords, these questions might go something like this. On all other nights, Arab leaders would exhibit unconditional animus toward Jews and Israel, dreaming of their destruction. They’d issue curricula and textbooks that are written to poison the minds of schoolchildren, injecting hate against Jews and Israel into the core of their pedagogy. But on this night, no hateful disagreements will disrupt progress, trade, or innovation; same for fighting hunger and sickness. And on this night, the United Arab Emirates will encourage young people to travel to and from Israel to enjoy great food and entertainment, visit and pray at holy sites, and engage in tech mining.
On all other nights, extremists might operate inside major oil-producing countries to plot and fund terror attacks on Western targets, but on this night, the top imam in Mecca, the holiest city among the world’s Muslims, says cooperating with Jews is acceptable and a good idea.
On all other nights, Israeli planes would take a circuitous, serpentine route to fly from Tel Aviv to the Far East. On this night, Israeli commercial flights will be cleared to fly over Saudi Arabian airspace.
On all other nights, Jews continuously pray at the Western Wall of the ancient temple. On this night, the colorful images of the Israel, Bahrain, and UAE flags are projected on the walls of the Old City. Meanwhile, Arabs will be welcome to visit holy sites in Israel and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of the Muslim faith.
Finally, after at least 3,000 years of ancient history and 72 years of modern history, there is an official, public rejection of hostilities, with embassies and diplomats planned in each other’s capital cities. The policy model of hate-war-destruction has given way to a very different option — one of diplomacy, a peaceful partnership built on mutual trust, and economic progress. Compared to other historic treaties signed on the South Lawn of the White House, the one signed on September 15 felt very different, according to those who observed them all.
Witnesses to the other Middle East milestone signings recalled the events involving battle-weary Egypt and Jordan, noting distinct caution in the air. On September 15, the leadership of the UAE, Bahrain, Israel, and the US stood shoulder to shoulder. On this day, there were no awkward handshakes, no dubious, glaring looks — or half-hearted, forced, or distrusting full smiles.
Leaders could honestly and publicly state their modified interests in the Palestinian cause, without making their plight conditional to a greater goal — moving forward with cooperation with Israel. In fact, UAE and Bahraini officials are positioned for a new role as an independent third-party, acknowledging that the treaties give Israel and the Palestinians time and space to negotiate an agreement without the looming reality of an “annexation” in Judea and Samaria, commonly known as the West Bank. If the two parties aren’t willing to come to the negotiating table, the new partners are saying publicly, there’s nothing much they can do to advance that process. Meanwhile, the rules governing Areas A, B, and C from the Oslo Accords will remain in place.
The Abraham Accords model is there for the taking, for other Gulf States and even for the Palestinians — the cornerstone to an agreement that is likely to engulf other Gulf States and extend into Africa is economic cooperation. Make no mistake, the Emiratis and Bahrainis still have a soft spot for the Palestinians. However, in the wake of creating a gleaming, modern-day Oz, the UAE and Bahrain are no longer willing to be dragged to a halt, waiting for the Palestinian leadership to fulfill its aspirations. The 72-year-old hate-war-destruction refrain has played like a tired old tune. That strategy has proven far too costly, with zero reward for the risk. These two Arab countries decided to cut their allowance to a petulant child without kicking them out of the house. Their tough love, in effect, came with this advice: “It’s time for you to go find a real job.”
The primary opponents of the Abraham Accords, not surprisingly, were Iran, Turkey, Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah, among others. Meanwhile, other Arab countries, ready to pull the trigger on an outstanding investment opportunity, were dialing up the partners, wondering, “How do we get in on the action?”
The world is witnessing the beginnings of a tectonic shift — or a “tech-tonic” economic shift. For many Israelis, meanwhile, the feeling of this geopolitical win might be as monumental, if not euphoric, as the 1977 European Cup Championship win by Maccabi Tel Aviv, a victory that lifted the spirit and identity of Israel from such horrifying events as the Olympic massacre in Munich, the Yom Kippur War, and the hostage crisis at the Entebbe airport.
Finally, the winds of change on that bright, clear day last week in Washington opened another door — to broaden the reestablishment of a Jewish community in the UAE and Bahrain. Jews won’t have to conceal their faith to visit these countries. Instead of the destruction of Israel serving as the ideological impetus of the Arab world, the guiding principle offered by the Bahrainis and Emiratis is peace and prosperity. It is not mere policy. It is a plan already being implemented. The peace dividend articulated by the participating countries will manifest itself in young people living and prospering in peace. When words like these filtered through Covid-19 masks worn at the White House, the witnesses knew that leaders were genuinely banking on a future. And that feeling is why this night was different from all other nights.
Mazal News (Portugal) covered our attendance of the Abraham Accords signing ceremony and quoted our President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin.
With a presence around the world and fighting for the cause of human rights since 1843, B’nai B’rith International hailed the historic peace agreements signed at the White House today between Israel and the UAE and Israel and Bahrain normalizing relations between the three countries. It will now join the peace agreements between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan as stabilizing influences in the region.
B'nai B'rith President Charles O. Kaufman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin were present on the South Lawn for the historic signing. “What we witnessed was something beyond anyone’s imagination just a few years ago,” Kaufman said.
Bahraini Foreign Minister, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Israeli Prime Minister and the USA President all participated in the signing of the Accords.
“Today marked a tremendous turning point in the history of Israel and the Jewish people, and in the Middle East. The signing of the Abraham Accords, and the agreements between Israel and the UAE, and Israel and Bahrain demonstrate that peace can be achieved when there is the good will to achieve it,” Dan Mariaschin said.
B’nai B’rith International is the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.
The Times of Israel quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Jewish and pro-Israel groups praising the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for signing historic agreements to normalize relations with Israel.
American Jewish organizations are praising the normalization deals between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, signed at the White House earlier today.
The American Jewish Committee says: “The peace agreements between Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE have flipped conventional wisdom on its head.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, who attended the signing, says in a statement: “I thank President Trump’s administration for its leadership in brokering these accords. The bold initiatives undertaken by Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates His Highness Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and King of Bahrain His Majesty Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in forging this new path toward peace will usher in a new era of regional stability, prosperity, and opportunity.”
The leaders of B’nai B’rith, also guests at the event, say it was “unforgettable.”
“What we witnessed was something beyond anyone’s imagination just a few years ago,” its president, Charles O. Kaufman, says. “The historic signing of the Abraham Accords and treaties was less about hope and promise and more about reality and what is happening in real time. It is more about creating real opportunities, advancements, innovations, not some platform for mere dreams and aspirations. Finally, promises and failures of the past gave way to a far better option — trusting, respecting parties developing a specific plan for prosperity, security and peace. Today was an unforgettable day of accomplishment.”
“Today marked a tremendous turning point in the history of Israel and the Jewish people, and in the Middle East,” adds its CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin. “The signing of the Abraham Accords, and the agreements between Israel and the UAE, and Israel and Bahrain demonstrate that peace can be achieved when there is the good will to achieve it.”
JNS quoted B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin in its coverage of Bahrain agreeing to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.
(September 11, 2020 / JNS) Jewish and pro-Israel groups instantly applauded Israel and Bahrain for agreeing on Friday to normalize relations between the two countries—the second of its kind between Israel and a Persian Gulf nation in the wake of the United Arab Emirates.
It’s also the fourth peace accord between Israel and a Middle Eastern country, following Egypt in 1979, Jordan in 1994 and the UAE, which agreed to such a deal on Aug. 13 and is scheduled to formalize it in a White House ceremony on Tuesday.
Bahrain will also be part of the ceremony, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani will sign a declaration of peace, according to a joint statement released by the United States, Bahrain and Israel.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who tweeted that the agreement is “Another HISTORIC breakthrough,” spoke on Friday with Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa and Netanyahu, who called the agreement “a pivot of history, a pivot toward peace.”
Between Israel and Bahrain, they will exchange ambassadors, have direct flights and launch economic initiatives, said Trump in the Oval Office shortly after announcing the deal.
It is currently unknown where the Bahraini embassy in Israel will be located. Most countries have embassies in Tel Aviv. The United States and Guatemala are the only ones to have theirs in Jerusalem, both having relocated there in May 2018. The Emirati one will be in Tel Aviv.
The full details of the Israel-Bahrain deal have yet to be announced.
‘A very auspicious moment’
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee called the development “another historic demonstration of a new promising era in Israeli-Arab relations.”
“These diplomatic achievements are a testament to the fact that a strong and secure Israel, backed by the United States, is critical to bringing reconciliation to the region,” said AIPAC in a statement. “The old and unproductive paradigm of boycotts and rejectionism is collapsing, and a new model of peace, prosperity and cooperation is emerging.”
“Now is the time for other countries in the region and the Palestinian leadership to embrace this model, and cement new ties and forge lasting peace and security in the Middle East,” continued AIPAC.
“Historically, sustainable Arab-Israel peace agreements have been achieved with active United States leadership. The back-to-back agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and now Bahrain, were achieved with the full engagement of the U.S. administration,” said American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris. “We thank President Trump and his team who saw these possibilities, and welcome the winds of change in the Middle East that lay the foundation for greater peace, cooperation and prosperity.”
Jewish Council for Public Affairs president and CEO David Bernstein told JNS that his organization “could not be more pleased that Bahrain and Israel are normalizing relations. This is a very auspicious moment for Israel and the prospects for peace in the Middle East.”
Jewish groups from both sides of the political aisle applauded the development.
“Bahrain’s decision to normalize relations with Israel demonstrates the growing conviction in the region that now is the time to set aside old conflicts, stand united against the threat of Iran, and engage in economic, technological, scientific and cultural cooperation with Israel that will improve the lives of all the peoples of the Middle East,” said Republican Jewish Coalition national chairman former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) in a statement.
Democratic Majority for Israel president and CEO Mark Mellman told JNS, “From Bahrain and the UAE to Chad and Malawi, countries once at best skeptical of Israel are turning into friends. We salute the wisdom of all these countries in recognizing both the mutual benefits of strong ties with Israel, and Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in peace and security.”
“Bahrain’s decision to normalize relations with Israel is yet another positive indicator that change in the region is moving in a welcome, positive direction,” B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel Mariaschin told JNS. “The UAE, and now Bahrain, are sending a strong and unmistakable message that peace and stability in the region are indeed reachable.”
Sarah Stern, founder and president of Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), called Friday’s development “yet another indication of the blossoming of warm relations between Israel and the Sunni Gulf states that had been up until now ‘under the table.’ ”
The new development “shows that these Arab partners understand and appreciate that the Jewish state is not going anywhere, that Israel is here to stay; that they have a tremendous amount that they can share and learn from Israel, in terms of high tech, cybersecurity, water irrigation and agriculture, and in the age of COVID-19, medicine,” she said.
At least since 2019, Bahrain has been improving its diplomatic relations with Israel. In June of that year, it hosted the “Peace to Prosperity” conference, where the United States released the economic component of its Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal. The following August, Bahrain joined the U.S.-led coalition against to protect shipping in the Gulf against Iran.
Along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain opened its airspace last week to allow flights between Israel and the UAE.
This week, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain agreed to open their airspace to flights east from Israel.
‘A sea change of attitudes’
Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein told JNS that the Bahrain-Israel normalization deal is a loss for two of Israel’s enemies—Palestinian leadership and the BDS movement—and that U.S. President Donald Trump “deserves the Nobel Peace Prize,” which the president was formally nominated for this week for brokering the Israel-UAE peace deal.
American Jewish Congress president Jack Rosen told JNS, “The more Islamic countries that make peace with Israel, the less impact the Palestinian terrorist dictatorship’s anti-Semitic propaganda lies and the BDS movement against Israel will impact. We are witnessing a sea change of attitudes: the Israel-UAE agreement, the decision of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to allow Israeli flights to use their airspace, the refusal of the Arab League to condemn the Israel-UAE accord.”
American Sephardi Federation executive director Jason Guberman told JNS that the Emirati and Bahraini normalization deals with Israel exemplify “a new era, but one rooted in history.”
“Muslims and Jews, as in centuries past, will once again be able to channel their considerable talents and resources into projects that will benefit all of humanity,” he said. “For the Greater Sephardic community, these developments are at once historic and personal in ways that may be difficult for others to understand. With shared roots in the region and [those] who have in recent memory experienced the trauma of exile, it is deeply moving to see one Arab country after another welcome them, in freedom and friendship, to be fully Jewish.”
“Acceptance of Israel and its integration into the Middle East is a positive development for regional stability, for American interests, and no less importantly, for Israelis not being unfairly ostracized by other states,” said Israel Policy Forum in a statement. “We hope that Bahrain’s addition to the list of Arab states that have open and official relations with Israel paves the way for more such developments in the months and years ahead.”
At last, “the walls of isolation around Israel are crumbling,” Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations told JNS.
Even J Street, which is usually highly critical of Israel, welcomed the deal.
“As with the UAE agreement, this is a positive development. Here is some context on the long history of Bahrain-Israel relations, from [Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak] Rabin under Oslo [in the 1990s] to today,” tweeted J Street. “And while normalization is welcome, real *peace* requires an agreement that resolves the issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and leads to the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.”
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B'nai B'rith International is the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.
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