A series of online discussions were held by students to celebrate coexistence between Israel and its Arab neighbours, and counter the movement to boycott the Jewish state.
Three virtual events in StandWithUS UK’s Peace Week 2021 programme featured leading Israeli and gulf politicians and activists, students from across the UK and representatives from the world of sport.
Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan Nahoum, spoke alongside fellow co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, Thani Al-Shirawi, and Ahdeya Al Sayed, who is president of the Bahrain Journalists Association. The trio reflected on the groundbreaking Abraham Accords and subsequent peace agreements between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE.
Al Sayed said: “Fake news has lead to hatred, curriculums that have melted Israel off the map has lead to hatred. You cannot just not recognise a whole country and be in the year 2021 and say that state does not exist.”
Student leaders also hosted Israeli-Arab influencer, Yoseph Haddad, who spoke about his work as CEO of Together –Vouch for Each Other. He discussed his time in the army, saying: “It’s not a Jewish Defence Force, it’s an Israeli Defence Force. When we say Israel Defence Force, we mean that it defends all of Israeli society.”
The role of sport in building bridges also came into sharp focus, with high-profile guests discussing how football can be a force for good. Tamar Hay Sagiv, Director of the Peace Education Department at the Peres Centre spoke about coexistence and the significance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. Tamar was joined by Rola Brentlin, Head of Special Projects at Chelsea Football Club, Ronit Glasman, the Head of Marketing at the Israel Football Association and the Peres Centre’s Field Director, an alum of their prestigious programme, Sa’ad Barhoum.
Barhoum said: “To talk about difficult things, as an Arab, as a Palestinian, and as an Arab-Israeli, wherever. It was the place where we can sit and talk and get out and laugh and everything is okay. It was more than football and I knew I was going to do it till the last day of my life.”
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