update deskIsrael News

UAE minister: ‘There is no enmity between us and Israel’

“Which is preferable, the joyful materialism of nouveaux riches Emiratis or the extremism of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups of the kind?”

U.S. President Donald Trump meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on May 15, 2017. Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.
U.S. President Donald Trump meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on May 15, 2017. Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.

Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, a minister of state in the United Arab Emirates government, said this week in an exclusive interview with Sohrab Amari of The New York Post that “there is no enmity between us and the State of Israel,” a groundbreaking statement that would have been unthinkable in the not-so-distant past.

Nusseibeh made the comments as Christian and Jewish leaders gathered in Abu Dhabi for the first-ever papal visit to the UAE and the Arabian Peninsula.

“The invitation to the Holy Father solidifies the UAE’s status as the most responsible power in the Persian Gulf region,” observed Amari. “And it gives testament to the Emirati leadership’s determination to transcend the bloody, cruel fanaticism that has disfigured the House of Islam and brought ruin to Christians and other minorities unfortunate enough to dwell inside it.”

To back up his assessment, Amari referenced a recent YouGov poll that found that opinions in the emirate “overall are often nearer to that of Western samples than to fellow [Middle Eastern countries] when it comes to general attitudes to world religions.”

While the UAE restricts freedom of worship for non-Islamic faiths in the public sphere, religious minorities can practice their faith in private without government interference, which has given the UAE the reputation of being the most liberal of the Gulf states.

Amari acknowledged that freedom is not absolute in the emirate. However, he asked: “Which is preferable, the joyful materialism of nouveaux riches Emiratis or the extremism of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups of the kind?”

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, announced on Monday the construction of a new church and mosque in Abu Dhabi, calling them “beacons to uphold the values of tolerance, moral integrity and human fraternity in the UAE.”

Meanwhile, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar called for people of all faiths to unite to combat terrorism and injustice.

The Israel Project’s senior fellow, Julie Lenarz, observed in an op-ed published on Tuesday in Reaction that “the pope’s visit also comes at a time when the Arab world is increasingly engaging in a rapprochement with the global Jewish community and in particular, Israel.” The emirate, she said, “has been one of the leading exponents of this approach.”

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war.

JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you.

The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support?

Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates