The first official interfaith delegation from Israel to the UAE attended an event at the Expo 2020 Dubai on Monday, marking the start of Tolerance Week.
“They [the delegation] thanked the UAE for its acceptance and tolerance,” according to a press release issued by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bureau for World Jewish Affairs and World Religions that organised the event titled “The Role of Religious Leaders in Tolerance Education.”
Leaders representing five major religions – Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bahai – shared their ideas on how to promote peace, coexistence and interreligious dialogue at the event held at Israel Pavilion.
They discussed various aspects of tolerance education and dialogue between peoples and religions with their Emirati counterparts, as well as tools to create bridges and fight extremism and prejudice.
Shuli Davidovich, Head of Bureau for World Jewish Affairs and World Religions, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel; Elazar Cohen, Commissioner General at the Israeli Pavilion; led the event. Five religious leaders such as David Rutstein, Secretary general of the Bahai international community; Archbishop Amer-Giuseppe Matta of Haifa and Galilee; Sheikh Moafaq Tarif, spiritual leader of the Druze community, Chairman of the Supreme Druze religious council and Chairman of the Druze High appeal religious court; Imam Jamal Ubra, Executive of the Mosques of the Negev and Jerusalem area and Imam of the Al-Nur Mosque of Rahat; and Rabbi Dr. Benni Lau actively participated in the discussions.
Israel and the UAE officially established diplomatic relations over a year ago by signing the Abraham Accords in September 2020.
According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are 3,000 Jews living in the UAE. “There is a growing interest for Hebrew language and various Ulpanim (Hebrew study centres) have opened up in the UAE,” it added in the press release.