The Middle East has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving – opinion
I am thankful that Bahrain, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates are committed to creating a new Middle East: one built on peace and prosperity for us all.
During my time in the United States, I very much enjoyed the Thanksgiving celebrations I participated in. The tradition of gathering with family and friends and sharing what we are thankful for is very special – and something which we should all practice in our daily lives.
While Thanksgiving is often thought of as an American holiday, I believe that this year, the Middle East must join our friends in America as we have a lot to be thankful for, especially the Abraham Accords. There are so many aspects of these accords which we should be thankful for; here are some that are particularly important to me.
I am thankful for the new relationship between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel. This newfound relationship is built upon the foundation that both sides want to create a warm peace that fosters relationships on an individual level. All one needs to do is open their social media to see countless new Bahraini-Israeli friendships on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
On a personal note, the Jewish community in Bahrain is particularly thankful, to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa for his leadership in bringing about this peace. We have always been thankful for His Majesty’s personal commitment to spreading a culture of peace, dialogue and coexistence, and his support of our Jewish community. Many of us have family and friends in Israel and, following the Abraham Accords, we will now be able to go and visit them in person and call them directly on the telephone.
I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in the first delegation from the Kingdom of Bahrain to the State of Israel, which took place last week and was led by Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani. The moment was surreal as I stepped off the plane. Here I was in the land of the Jewish people, the land that I had grown up learning about in school in the United Kingdom, the land where many of my relatives live, and I was finally able to travel there.
That moment will stay with me forever. It is etched in my mind as both a Bahraini and as a Jew.
We participated in meeting after meeting. The excitement was palpable as we discussed the plethora of opportunities for collaboration and partnership. During our meeting with President Rivlin, I was honored to be given the opportunity to talk about the indigenous Jewish community of Bahrain, and I invited him to the opening of our synagogue, which is in the process of being refurbished and will reopen around Purim. I am thankful that the relationship between Bahrain and Israel is in such a place that I was able to extend such an offer.
I AM THANKFUL that Bahrain, Israel and the United Arab Emirates are committed to creating a new Middle East: one built on peace and prosperity for us all. Together, we are changing history. We are doing this for our children, because by inculcating the lessons of peace and tolerance within them now, they will grow up to be the future political and business leaders of the next generation – and they will not know of the chasm that previous generations faced.
As our Bahraini children start to learn about Judaism and Israeli culture in their school and Israeli children learn more about Islam and Gulf culture in theirs, they will carry these lessons with them as they grow to lead this powerful region.
A few weeks ago, three school-aged children stood on top of Jerusalem’s iconic King David Hotel wearing the flags of Bahrain, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, as they were overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. This photo, which has since gone viral, personifies what these historic announcements are all about – creating a better future for our children.
Thanksgiving has always had a special place in my heart since I returned from the United States. It is a good reminder for us all to slow down and focus on our blessings. This year, as the COVID-19 pandemic rages around the world, it is more important than ever before that we count our blessings this Thanksgiving.
This year we saw the Middle East change in unprecedented ways, and we must all be grateful for this. The Abraham Accords are the beginning of a new era for our region, one which we are all very excited about. I hope you will join me this Thanksgiving holiday and reflect on the blessing we received this year in the form of the Abraham Accords.
Houda Nonoo served as Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States from 2008-2013. She is the first Jew to be appointed as an ambassador of Bahrain.
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