Dubai - 03/06/22: In celebration of International Women’s Day, The Abraham Global Peace Initiative (AGPI) hosted Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum. AGPI’s Women’s Global Initiative Co-Chairs, Genevieve Korman and Candice Solomon, formally welcomed and introduced Deputy Mayor Hassan-Nahoum, commending her on exceptional leadership.
Speaking to AGPI from Dubai, Deputy Mayor Hassan-Nahoum has been paving the way for women in the Gulf Region, creating an inclusive women’s forum and engaging women in countries such as the U.A.E., Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. The Abraham Accords, said the Deputy Mayor, is a paradigm shift. Whereas previous peace agreements between Israel and Egypt and Jordan was a top-down approach due to miltary conflict, the Abraham Accords are about a direct people-to-people approach. Interestingly, trade between Israel and Jordan and Egypt has increased three-fold since the Abraham Accords, indicating closer ties.
Asked if she believes more regional countries will join the Abraham Accords, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar, Deputy Mayor Hassan-Nahoum said that already normalization with countries such as Saudi Arabia is underway. Many Arab countries are now seeing the advantages of business with Israel. The Saudis are demanding a resolution between Israel and the Palestinians, but perhaps they could encourage the Palestinians to come to the table and make peace with Israel. The Deputy Mayor added that the country to join next might be Indonesia where at least half the population wants to see peace with Israel. This is of particular note, in light of the fact that Indonesia possesses the world's largest Muslim population, representing nearly 13% of the world's total population of Muslims.
Deputy Mayor Hassan-Nahoum also believes the Abraham Accords are particularly good for Jerusalem. She says that 40% of Jerusalem’s residents are Muslim Arabs – making Jerusalem the most diverse city in the country. Jerusalem can be strengthened by diversity and this will result in better innovation, said the Deputy Mayor. Moreover, the peace agreements will increase tourism as Jerusalem will be a destination for Muslim pilgrims. We have now moved beyond the traditional “Arab-Israeli conflict” into more optimism and hope in the region.
Responding to an audience question about the Iranian threat, Deputy Mayor Hassan-Nahoum said that Israel’s conflict is with the Ayatollahs, not with the Iranian people. There is hope in building a relationship with the Iranian peoples, but not as long as the Iranian regime is threatening Israel. On the subject of the truth about Israel – as a free and democratic state – the Deputy Mayor argued that Israel could be telling the story the way it should be. That was partly why she became a politician, she added: to tell Israel’s side of the story. AGPI’s Founder and Chairman, Avi Abraham Benlolo, reaffirmed Deputy Mayor Hassan-Nahoum’s words and stated that her people-to-people approach is exactly the method necessary to convey the truth about Israel. “In my experience, building one-to-one relationships with influencers outside of the Jewish community is the way to advance Israel’s narrative. This is why AGPI is focused on expanding its tent around the world – building allies and advancing peace and democracy,” Benlolo concluded.
On the matter of human rights, Benlolo stated: “We believe at AGPI that the very definition of human rights has been co-opted by groups that are working to undermine the State of Israel. That’s why as a global Canadian organization, we are working hard to take back that narrative”. Responding to Deputy Mayor Hassan-Nahoum comment that Jewish university kids are shamefully forced to choose between Israel and human rights, Benlolo agreed and reaffirmed the necessity for the pro-Israel community to firmly understand that Israel is a country that promotes diversity, inclusivity and human rights.