Knesset committee ‘meets’ with UAE Jewish community

There are some 1,000 Jews from around the world currently living in the country, mostly in Dubai but with a smaller community in Abu Dhabi as well.

An empty Knesset Plenum  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
An empty Knesset Plenum
In a unique meeting the Knesset Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Committee formally met via video conference on Monday with leading members of the Jewish community in the United Arab Emirates.
The signing of the Abraham Accords normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE in August paved the way for the Jewish community to openly build a relationship with the Jewish state. During the committee hearing MKs and other officials discussed how this could be advanced.
Some 1,000 Jews from around the world currently live in the country. Most reside in Dubai, while a small number live in Abu Dhabi.
Committee chairman MK David Bitan of Likud noted that there are 200 children in the community and that Israel, along with other donors, is helping to establish the first Jewish school in Dubai.
Jewish Agency director Amira Aharonovitz noted that its emissary, expected this week in the UAE, will work with the local Jewish community, to learn its needs and how best the Jewish Agency can assist it.
“We are proudly and humbly working to have a role and shape the Jewish presence in the Gulf and its relationship with Israel,” said Aharonovitz. “We will work to prioritize the needs of the Jewish community and provide it with programming and assistance.”
Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, the chief rabbi of the UAE, discussed his efforts to create mutual understanding between Muslims and Jews in the country. He noted in particular his work with the UAE Ministry of Tolerance and his interfaith work which the ministry has encouraged.
Sarna also pointed out that the UAE has already revised school text books to better acquaint schoolchildren with Jewish and Israeli life and culture and to make it more “legible” for Emiratis.”
The rabbi said that Israel should have reacted with equal alacrity to acquaint Israelis with Emirati life and culture.