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Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with Jewish community representatives in Abu Dhabi

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A historic meeting took place on January 30 when the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, traveled to the United Arab Emirates. (Photo: HH Sheikh Mohammed Twitter)

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(JNS) Israeli President Isaac Herzog and first lady Michal Herzog met on Sunday January 30 with Jewish community representatives in the United Arab Emirates, including a senior rabbi who told them that the UAE is safer for Jews than the United States.

The Emirati Jewish leaders updated the president about their growing presence in the region and Herzog shared his vision for expanding the existing peace deal between the two countries.

“The dialogue between Judaism and Islam is at a fascinating point, and I very much look forward to further dialogue with Islamic countries,” Herzog told the Jewish leaders. “As you know, we have relations with quite a few, and there are plans for other countries, and I hope this will bring about a new era in relations between Jews and Muslims in our region. It all starts with the vision laid out here, which is a vision of inclusiveness, an amazing vision of inclusiveness.”

Among the participants in the meeting were Rabbi Levi Duchman, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary who has been working in Dubai since 2014; Rabbi Elie Abadie, a senior community rabbi; and Jewish Agency representative Sarah Benchimol.

The gathering was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. Israel time, but started more than an hour late, as Herzog was invited by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to a personal meeting at the prince’s private palace. The previously unscheduled meeting took place after a productive, two-hour diplomatic meeting.

First Lady Herzog held a parallel meeting with Sheikha Alyazia bint Saif Al Nahyan at the same time.

Rabbi: Community could reach 5,000 people in five years

Herzog is the first Israeli president to visit the UAE and see the growing Jewish community firsthand. Before the September 2020 Abraham Accords, only around 250 Jews lived in the UAE. Today, according to Abadie, that number has doubled.

“Many French, British, Canadian, American and Israeli Jews have set up homes here and many are setting up businesses here,” Abadie told JNS. He estimated that in the next three to five years, there will be as many as 5,000 Jews living in the UAE.

Moreover, since the peace treaty, an estimated 200,000 Jews have toured the country.

“The Jewish community [in the UAE] is one of the safest, if not the safest, in the world,” Abadie contended.

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He said that Jews in Europe, the United States and South Africa are attacked on a near-daily basis just for being Jewish.

“We do not have that here,” Abadie said. “The UAE is absolutely, without a doubt, safer than the United States for Jews. … We know that the government is protecting us, as it is all the citizens and residents of this country.”

The leaders told Herzog about the services that the community is now striving to provide, such as kashrut services and synagogues. In addition, they said they are looking to establish a Jewish day school, mikvah, kosher bakery and pizza shop “in due time.”

“With God’s help, may you continue to go from strength to strength in building the institutions of the community, the education system, and of course synagogues and other institutions that every community has,” said Herzog. “Good luck to all of you.”

Isaac Herzog is the first Israeli president to visit the UAE and see the growing Jewish community firsthand. (Photo: Twitter)

‘You want to pinch yourself to see if it is reality’

Abadie said the Jewish presence in the country is celebrated on a daily basis. Sometimes people salute him on the street, stop to say shalom or tell him how happy they are that the Jews are in the UAE.

But while he feels how special it is to live there on a daily basis, “when we have the president of the State of Israel received with such a beautiful welcome and the Israeli national anthem is played in the palace, and you see all the Israeli flags flying around the palace and the airport next to UAE flag—you want to pinch yourself to see if it is reality, and it is reality.”

An American-Israeli journalist since 1995, Maayan served as Editor-in-Chief of the Baltimore Jewish Times and Managing Editor of the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle. Her work has appeared in American Spectator, Fox, The Hill and Roll Call, among other places. She also served as news editor and head of online content and strategy for jpost.com.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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