Ancient Hatred, Modern Medium: A View from the Arab World

Ancient Hatred, Modern Medium - A View from the Arab World


ELLIE COHANIM: We are living in historic times. Recently, we witnessed the first Middle East peace deal in 26 years, brokered by President Donald Trump with Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain, and between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

We felt that coming so soon after these historic events, it’s important for all of us to hear from a prominent Arab leader. And indeed, today we are so proud to be joined by His Excellency, Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi of the United Arab Emirates. His Excellency, Al Nuaimi, is a member of the federal National Council, which is the UAE Congress, and it is a prominent advocate of global peace, tolerance, and coexistence.

He currently serves as the first chairman of the International Steering Board of Hedayah, the international center of excellence for countering violent extremism, based in Abu Dhabi. He also founded and currently chairs The World Council of Muslim Communities.

And now, his Excellency, Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi.

H.E. DR. ALI RASHID AL NUAIMI: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and good day. It’s my pleasure to participate in this event at this time, and I’d like to thank our friend at the State Department for inviting me to participate in this.

You chose the right time, especially for us in the UAE. We are really proud that we are making history in these days because of signing the peace treaty between the UAE and Israel.

So I think we’ve concluded our development. The way that the UAE as a nation evolved with this major initiative. Changing the region. Pointing to everyone in the region and worldwide that peace is a must, and this should be a priority for everyone. This is why I think it’s the right time to look into those challenges that we face as own nation, as the world– like climate change, like terrorism, extremism, the hate narrative. This is why I think you chose the right theme for this event, because we need to look into it, to counter it in a way, to develop a new strategy to deal with it.

When it comes to anti-Semitism, I think that what happened in the last three weeks in the UAE showed that we did a great accomplishment. Because it’s not the UAE leadership who made the decision and moved forward with the peace treaty with Israel, it’s even the people. The people here in the UAE are happy with it. They are very supportive with it. And especially the youth.

This is why I think that we have something to show that the world and to the region when it comes to coexistence, and when it comes to countering the hate narrative and anti-Semitism. The UAE, we worked hard in the last 30 years to counter extremism within the UAE, changing our educational system, changing our religious narrative– Islamic narrative– trying to promote the value that we share with everyone as human beings, trying to promote the coexistence values, and to create a new ecosystem within the UAE and the region related to tolerance and acceptance of others.

This is why you have all these nationalities with different religions– even Jews, they are here, they are most welcome. We want them to be here. We feel that the issue of being a community who believe in tolerance– If we don’t have the Jewish community, it won’t be completed.

This is like building a tower, and that is hard. There are windows, doors, floors. It won’t be complete unless you have the Jewish community within that building. So now it’s completed. It’s there. We are proud of it. They are welcome not only by the government, but also by the people.

This is why you may have seen some of the public initiatives, the people initiatives, the private sector initiatives related to doing things, even business or cultural exchange, with the Israeli. Recently, we are having the kosher restaurant in Abu Dhabi, which you know about, was publicized and everybody was happy to have it here in Abu Dhabi. That’s a proof of an evidence that shows how the UAE is actually enjoying the value of believing in diversity and coexistence.

When it comes to what should we do to counter anti-Semitism on the internet, I think it’s very important to start with education. Because even within country, we have the laws that prohibit these narratives. But unfortunately, it’s still there, for decades. I think the issue is that we have to start from the schools, from within the educational system to make sure that the teachers in the classroom, they are promoting these values– values of coexistence, of tolerance.

And we have to engage also, besides education, public figures. For example, you know there is in our region football, or soccer. In the U.S. it is very famous. We should engage some of these public players because the new generation looks at them as a model. Let them be engaged in some activities that promote coexistence, that promotes the issue of living together regardless of being looked at– your religion, or your ethnic, or your color, or your nationality.

So I think we have to go to the basic and start of the basic. It’s very important to have the laws, but the laws only will counter later on. It won’t work based on prevention. And this is why I think we have to engage public figures from the beginning. We should have the courage to do so, and also engage the religious leaders and community leaders.

I believe religious leaders have a special responsibility, from a different religion, to come forward. Create common initiatives. Work together. Show all the community that they work together. There is culture initiatives, public initiatives. They are doing it together for everyone, not only for their followers. That will send a message also.

I believe the world is changing, especially our region. The Middle East is changing. And now we have an opportunity to show to the others that we need to live together. We need to respect each other. We need to believe that all religions, they have great values. And everyone has the right to believe in their religion that he believes in, and to follow the values that he believes in.

We should create a culture where we seek the protection for everyone and for their values, for their community. And we feel that there is a common responsibility that we have to step in and speak loudly, and have the courage to protect the whole community, not only a group or a certain sector of that community. We need to create a culture of a common responsibility– values in our community– to move forward, to create a better future, a future of peace, stability, and love for everyone.

Again, thank you very much for inviting me, and hope that we’ll see you soon after COVID 19. Thank you.

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