UAE, Bahraini and Israeli envoys light third Hanukkah candles together

"It was the year of the pandemic, but it was also the year of peace," said Israel Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.

The Gulf-Israel Women's Forum brings children draped in the flags of Bahrain, Israel and the UAE to Jerusalem's Old City.  (photo credit: ISRAEL HADARI)
The Gulf-Israel Women's Forum brings children draped in the flags of Bahrain, Israel and the UAE to Jerusalem's Old City.
(photo credit: ISRAEL HADARI)
Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer held a virtual Hanukkah lighting on Saturday with Bahraini Ambassador to the US Abdulla Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa and UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba, to mark the holiday's third day by lighting the candles of the hanukkiah (candelabra) together. 
The candle lighting was held in the wake of the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain earlier this year.

"It was the year of the pandemic, but it was also the year of peace," said Dermer as an opening. 
"UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba and Bahraini Ambassador to the US Abdulla Al Khalifa played a critical role" in the signing of the Abraham Accords, continued the Israeli ambassador, "honored" that they have joined him to celebrate the Jewish holiday of light.
“This year, I’m lighting the Hanukkah candles with you at the same time the Jewish community in the UAE are lighting their Hanukkah candles. Now that is peace,” Otaiba said. “Next year, let us hope we can celebrate this holiday together in person.”
He continued, saying “this year, may look and feel a little different, as the Covid pandemic continues to impact our daily lives. But I’m still filled with hope – that 2021 will bring a brand new start for us.”
Khalifa declared that “in a time of hardship for us all, it was that flame of desire – that desire for peace – that prevailed.
“This year, may the hope for peace that exists in each of us burn brightly enough to illuminate the desire in others,” he said. "As on the menorah, let our one candle be surrounded by others, radiating the light of hope on whatever shadows are cast by those wishing to perpetuate darkness and fear."
Dermer also spoke to the Moroccan Ambassador to the US, Princess Lalla Joumala, agreeing to meet her soon to examine ways to promote relations between Israel and Morocco, following the recent announcement of normalization between the two countries.
Meanwhile, extraordinary scenes in Dubai including Hanukkah celebrations were part of a historic and unprecedented process of the United Arab Emirates embracing tolerance, coexistence and peace. The first weeks of December are a historic turning point on a path that was launched in 2019 as the "Year of Tolerance." 
In this region, messages are important. Publicly displaying government support for different religions and having Hanukkah celebrated in a central space, as it was last week, shows the 200 nationalities in the UAE that Jews are embraced.
In the wake of the signing of the Abraham Accords, achieved with American mediation, these celebrations are strengthening the newly-established links between these countries, and open the path for promising future cooperation.
Tobias Siegal and Seth J. Frantzman contributed to this report.