Abu Dhabi skyline
Abu Dhabi skyline iStock

Eighteen months after the Abraham Accords began a process of normalization between Israel and Arab states, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) is opening its first office in an Arab country.

AJC Abu Dhabi’s The Sidney Lerner Center for Arab-Jewish Understanding opened on March 2 with a reception and ribbon cutting ceremony in the UAE capital city.

“AJC played an essential role over the years in laying the foundation for the Abraham Accords. I cannot overstate the significance of its contribution, which makes its new office here so natural and also so necessary, as we work together to expand regional peace and understanding,” said Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of the Defense, Interior and Foreign Affairs Committee of the UAE Federal National Council.

Al Nuaimi along with AJC CEO David Harris, AJC Abu Dhabi Director Ambassador Marc Sievers, and AJC Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer Jason Isaacson joined together to cut the ribbon at the entrance to the new office.

“The opening of AJC Abu Dhabi is the culmination of a process of trust-building and cooperation in pursuit of common goals that began years, in fact decades, before the Abraham Accords,” said Isaacson.

Isaacson, who has led AJC consultations in Bahrain, the UAE, and other Arab states for more than 25 years, explained that “in a region and a world that has known too much war, it manifests our commitment, in concert with partners in the Arab world and Israel, to wage peace.”

The reception at the Abu Dhabi Four Seasons Hotel was also attended by diplomats from 12 countries, business leaders, Emirati and Israeli diplomats-in-training, and Gulf Jewish community representatives.

Addressing the audience, Harris said: “We are the answer to war – all of us in this room.”

“In whatever language we speak, we are pursuers of peace. Real peace – not just signed pieces of paper, but the actualization of peace, mutual respect, mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation, coexistence, standing up for one another. Those are the elements of peace,” Harris said.

In February, the AJC released an animated film exploring the “history and diversity” of the American Jewish community for an Arabic language audience.