Young peace activists promote the Abrahamic Accord in California

A delegation of young activists, leaders and entrepreneurs from the countries of the Abrahamic accords that traveled to California earlier this month to talk about regional peace found an audience eager for hope, but lacking in knowledge, they said. declared.

Israel signed groundbreaking normalization agreements in 2020 with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco and is working to secure such an agreement with Sudan, but despite the agreements negotiated by the United States, many did not know the details. , discovered the participants.

“I initially assumed that people in the United States had a good knowledge of the Abrahamic Accords and what is happening in the region, but after these meetings I realized I was wrong,” Omar Al-Busaidy, an Emirati Fulbright, explained. academic and entrepreneur.

“And in fact, from all aspects of American society, they are still not aware of the weekly meetings, the strategic partnerships, the collaborations that are taking place between the countries of the Abrahamic accords,” he said.

The group was organized by Sharaka, an NGO that emerged following the 2020 peace accords to promote peace and cooperation in the region. From November 7-14, they met with Jewish leaders, Democratic politicians and activists, college and high school students, and civilian leaders from the Bay Area and Sacramento.

One of their events was a panel discussion at the Commonwealth Club of California, the country’s oldest public affairs forum.

“One of our key messages to the American public speaking on the liberal West Coast is that the Abraham Accords are real and transformative for the Middle East and overwhelmingly positive,” said Dan Feferman, Director of Business Sharaka Worlds, The Times of Israel. Sunday. “Put political polarization aside. American domestic policy has nothing to do with the Middle East.

Activists from the Abrahamic Accord countries speak at the Commonwealth Club during a tour of California hosted by Sharaka, November 2021 (Sharaka)

Feferman argued that the United States has focused too much on the Palestinian issue, which has prevented the Palestinians from making compromises at the negotiating table. “It allowed the region to demonize Israel to distract from its own issues. The region now includes. He realizes that it only came back to hurt him and that he separated the Israelis and the Palestinians.

In addition to Feferman and Busaidy, the delegation included Amazigh-Moroccan activist and artist Chama Mechtaly, Israeli Druze digital activist Lorena Al Kahtib, Syrian-American journalist Hayvi Bouzo, and Bahraini peace activist and author Fatema Al-Harbi. .

Bouzo felt that she had a special responsibility as a journalist to talk about the peace agreements.

“The Arab media have played a major role in promoting anti-Semitism and transforming the Palestinian-Israeli conflict into an existential Arab-Israeli conflict and, of course, in demonizing peace,” she said. “As a journalist, I think the media have a crucial role to play; in public education, the fight against disinformation, anti-Semitism and hatred.

As much as they opened the eyes of the public, the participants seemed equally inspired by the interactions.

“The best thing I heard on the tour was that we gave people hope, it was moving to know that we gave people hope for the Middle East and the future, where some said our conversation was an eye opener, ”Harbi reflected.

“I have a lot more hope now,” said Bouzo. “The delegation represented a new spirit and transformation in the Middle East, where Jews, Arabs and other ethnic and religious groups / minorities are finally speaking out and sharing their hopes for this war-torn region.

The young activists said they have new projects underway to continue promoting peace in the region. Bouzo is working on an Arabic digital media show called “Yalla” which seeks to humanize different groups in the Middle East by telling inspiring stories.

“Personally, I want to see more Emiratis come to Israel as soon as we have the pandemic behind us,” Busaidy said. “I also want to see more Jews from all over the world visit the United Arab Emirates and give their own testimonies about how they feel in the United Arab Emirates.”

Yet, some members of the group said, there is little they can do without active American support.

“I think there should be more American support from both sides to support local efforts in the region and support for direct Israeli-Arab relations, as well as more Arab-Muslim countries for join the peace accords, ”Bouzo said.

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About Wesley V. Finley

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