In a historic first tonight, the ambassadors of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel gathered together in the presence of Middle East and North Africa Minister, James Cleverly MP for a live, online Chanukah reception.
The three ambassadors all lit Chanukah candles at the event entitled ‘Chanukah in a New Light’ organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish News. It follows on from the historic signing of the Abrahamic Accords between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain earlier this year.
This is also a historic collaboration between Jewish and Arab media in the UK, Israel, Bahrain and the UAE with the Jewish News in London, the Khaleej Times in Dubai and the Times of Israel in Jerusalem livestreaming the event to cumulatively millions of followers.
United Arab Emirates Ambassador, Mansoor Abulhoul thanked the UK Jewish community for the kindness and for the spirit of collaboration that that had been extended to him and his colleagues. He added: “The light that we lit this year was the historic Abraham Accords, when the UAE, Israel and Bahrain, forged a new path. We believe it will help bring peace and prosperity to a region that desperately needs it.”
Bahraini Ambassador Shaikh Fawaz bin Muhammad Al Khalifa, speaking from the residence of Huda Nonoo, Bahrain’s Jewish former ambassador to the United States, said: “In a year when hope has often seemed in short supply, the Abraham Accords are a reason to look ahead with at least some confidence, towards the possibility of a new era of peace for the Middle East, and an era of understanding between all the faiths and peoples of our region.”
Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely said “This is a new era in the history of the Middle East, where we can get to know each other as neighbours and friends and create more prosperity for our peoples. As we celebrate the light of Hanukkah, let us celebrate the bright future peace is bringing to our region, and look to the future with hope and optimism.”
Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly MP said: “A great cause of hope is the recent normalisation between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain as well as Sudan and most recently Morocco. The UK is proud to have been one of the first countries to welcome these agreements. We are committed to ensuring that these agreements are an enduring success and we will work closely with Israel, the UAE and Bahrain to promote shared prosperity and regional stability and security.”
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl told guests that, during an unprecedented time of crisis, being able to host this historic occasion “embodies the true spirit and miracle of Chanukah.”
She added: “During a year of difficulty and darkness for us all, the Abraham Accords, and the subsequent agreements with Sudan and Morocco, heralded a new light. Tonight’s event celebrates that remarkable achievement and the possibilities it brings.”
During the event, at which Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer was Master of Ceremonies, Cantor Jonny Turgel led the singing of traditional Chanukah songs Hanerot Halalu and Maoz Tzur, while the Sacks Morasha Jewish Primary School choir, named for the late Rabbi Lord Sacks, ended the reception with the song ‘Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu’ (Peace will yet come to us).