A Full GCC-Israel Peace Accord in the Making? Region's Jews Announce First Communal Organization

Published February 15th, 2021 - 08:45 GMT
A Full GCC-Israel Peace Accord in the Making? Region's Jews Announce First Communal Organization
The 'Beth Din of Arabia' includes the Jews from all six GCC countries. (www.gulfjewish.org)

Jews from Gulf countries have recently announced the creation of a first communal organization in the region, one that pledges to the "growth and flourishing of Jewish life in the Gulf States." Yet, the timing of the announcement coinciding with normalization between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain is triggering many questions over what it could pave the way for.

Last September, the former US President Donald Trump brokered a peace agreement between the UAE and Bahrain on one side, and Israel on the other, establishing ties between the three countries for the first time in their histories.

The Abraham Accords, despite being limited to the UAE and Bahrain of the GCC countries, seems to have successfully triggered conversations over the conditions the Jews of Arabia live through, which may have led to the foundation of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC).

Under the name (حياة: life), the association is expected to provide the Jewish populations in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia with the "Beth Din of Arabia," in reference to the rabbinical court in Judaism, which will be headed by Bahrain's Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo and led by the Beirut-born Rabbi Elie Abadie.

However, the timing at which the organization has been founded is sparking many questions over the sudden open-approach many GCC countries are taking towards their Jewish populations, especially that the Jewish presence in the Gulf countries have been recognized as a historically integral part of the area's demographic. 

Following the establishment of Israel in 1948, Arab governments had reportedly cracked down on their native Jewish populations, which remained relatively marginalized for decades. One could argue that these marginalized Arab Jews are also victims of the establishment of Israel since they lost their natural integration with their Arab communities reducing a once celebrated diversity that enriched the region. 

But as two GCC countries have signed the Abraham Accords with Israel in September 2020, there has been a clear tendency to having a more open approach with the Jewish population of the region, including the UAE's notable celebrations of Hanukkah last December.

Some social media users questioned whether or not this organization including four countries with no ties with Israel so far, is meant as a step that paves the way for normalization with Israel, regardless of whether Israel will recognize a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 as per international law, a condition set previously by the Arab League for normalization with Israel.

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