The United Arab Emirates and Israel share the values of coexistence

The United Arab Emirates and Israel are among the countries in the region most concerned with coexistence and the pursuit of peace and stability.

The flags of the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Bahrain are screened on the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City on September 15. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
The flags of the United Arab Emirates, Israel and Bahrain are screened on the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City on September 15.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Ever since the end of the fourth decade of the 20th century, Arab states and Israel have been embroiled in a state of conflict from which they went into many wars. Countless were the human, material, psychological, moral and political losses.
Most of all, the conflict has disrupted development and led to degraded living and economic conditions in several Arab countries, particularly those on the “axis of confrontation.”
After all these decades, during which the page of war was turned and peace was proclaimed an Arab “strategic choice” in the 1990s, the ties have not evolved appreciably due to persistent past ways of thinking in the management of this classic conflict.
These mentalities have led to the habit of following the same traditional path in managing crises, so much so that they have ended up unwittingly recycling crises. The climate and continuance of the crises legitimized keeping certain leaders and decision-makers on top of the issue.
Today, some Arab states have successfully built a development model comparable to that of developed countries, including Israel. They seek to compete for world leadership in various frontiers of human progress.
Understandably, these countries are exploring new avenues to address the challenges and issues of the regional system linking them to other Arab countries.
Of course, any effort to articulate non-traditional paradigms for resolving a situation as complex as Arab-Israeli relations requires common ground for understanding, dialogue and coexistence among people in the region.
In this respect, the United Arab Emirates and Israel are among the countries in the region most concerned with coexistence and the pursuit of peace and stability. Both countries have peace-loving societies that are concerned with community as a basis for security, stability and the satisfaction of basic needs for the progress and well-being of present and future generations.
It seems obvious to me that the affinities between the Emirati and Israeli people go far beyond those between the UAE and other people in the region and the world. Shared human values and ideals, as historical experience testifies, solidly underpin bonds between nations.
Of course, one of the problems of our region, not only in relations with Israel, but also in our ties as Gulf and Arab countries with other neighbors, is the non-coexistence that breeds hegemony, tyranny and attitudes of superiority toward others. This is the case, at least, of Iran and Turkey with their bellicose practices. They stand as glaring examples of hegemonies that bring back past animosities into today’s world.
With its accelerated development experience, the UAE is opening up to all the countries of the world. The country cannot turn away from cooperating with Israel – which has a wealth of scientific expertise in various spheres – only to collaborate through intermediary channels.
While science and technology are advancing rapidly, isolation doesn’t do much good anymore. As Emiratis, we cannot go exploring Mars and space without first discovering and engaging in dialogue and cooperation with our Israeli neighbors.
What’s more, how can we bolster our experience of tolerance, coexistence, acceptance of others, and the establishment of intercultural and civilizational dialogue, when old stereotypes set up insurmountable barriers between us and the people of Israel, who have great scientists, experts and talents making daily contributions to human progress?
How can progress in the fields of space, information and communications technology, and the knowledge economy be pursued without sharing experiences with Israel, which has made spectacular advances in these areas?
How can we perpetuate the reputation of our country as a beacon of coexistence and tolerance when none of the more than 200 nationalities living in peace on the soil of the UAE has an Israeli passport?
And how can the faltering peace process in the region be unblocked without a direct dialogue that moves things forward and opens a new window of opportunity for the Palestinian side to seize and advance the political settlement of the crisis?
In my view, establishing peace between one or all Arab states and Israel does not hinder the Palestinian people’s exercise of their legitimate rights.
Dialogue, where there are common ties and interests, will certainly be easier and more fruitful than in an antagonistic, tense and uncooperative atmosphere.
Direct, ice-breaking Arab-Israeli ties can bring about peace. This would deprive extremism and terrorism of one of the most dangerous cards being used to turn our region and our states into chronic battlegrounds for the benefit of regimes that merely sloganize and have no development plans or strategic projects to meet their countries’ needs.
Seven decades of Arab-Israeli fighting have passed at the same pace. The old preconceptions no longer have a place in politics and the ties between nations. Two countries like the UAE and Israel cannot entrust their future to worn-out and obsessive rhetoric. It only suits those who hide behind slogans of the past and play politics with their own cause.
In the UAE we strive to create paths for the future. Its tracks do not always resonate with the prisoners of outdated ideas among Arabs and others. We saw this when we launched the Hope orbiter and when the first Emirati astronaut made an unprecedented scientific journey for the Gulf and the Arab world.
So do not be all too surprised by reactions that fail to recognize our philosophy of action and our vision for the future. We know that on the day people see the wisdom of our approach, they will come around.
Congratulations and best wishes to the Israeli people for the Jewish New Year. May it be a year of peace, security, happiness and stability for all of us in the Middle East.
The writer is a UAE political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate.