Manama, Bahrain
Manama, BahrainiStock

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) leadership delegation participated in a week of consultations in the capitals of Oman, Bahrain and the UAE.

The meetings were a continuation of “AJC’s 25-year-plus engagement with regional governments and building on the breakthrough 2020 Abraham Accords normalization agreements between Israel and two Gulf states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.”

The agenda included affixing a mezuzah to the entranceway of the office of AJC Abu Dhabi, which will open in March 2022 as the Sidney Lerner Center for Arab-Jewish Understanding, becoming AJC’s 13th international office, and the first in an Arab nation.

“Establishing a continuous presence in the Gulf, where we have been forging relationships of trust and common purpose for a generation, has been a dream long nurtured by AJC lay and staff leadership,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC chief policy and political affairs officer, who has led the organization’s regional outreach. “AJC Abu Dhabi, under the direction of the veteran U.S. diplomat Ambassador Marc Sievers, will take our presence – and our message of mutual respect and partnership in confronting shared challenges – to a new level.”

The delegation held “substantive” meetings with government ministers and senior officials, as well as policy analysts, civil society and business leaders, in all three states. They also met with senior American diplomats and the commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command based in Bahrain.

The group also met with high level Israeli diplomats in Bahrain and the UAE, who have both exchanged ambassadors with Israel this year, and with members of the Jewish communities in Muscat, Manama, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.

In Dubai, the group toured the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum, including its Holocaust exhibit, with museum founder Ahmed Obaid Al Mansoori and the visiting High Representative of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, former Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos.

They also participated in discussion on regional security challenges and the potential for wider strategic cooperation, interfaith programming and the increasing recognition of Jewish heritage in the region, and ongoing efforts to meet development goals and combat extremism.

In Bahrain, they saw a presentation about the newly renovated synagogue in Manama, and participated in a tour conducted by Bahrain’s former Ambassador to the United States, Houda Nonoo, a member of the country’s Jewish community.