French Jews find hope for peace in Abraham Accords

Bnai Brith Secretary-General France says 'it gave me hope for the future'


Jewish and Muslim leaders in France are drawing inspiration from the Abraham Accords as a model for promoting harmony.

A delegation of French Jews visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) a few weeks ago after last year’s landmark deal normalising relations with Israel.

Secretary-General of Bnai Brith France, Deborah Lichentin exclaimed: “We were walking to the synagogue on Shabbat. The men were wearing kippot in broad daylight and we felt safe!”

Their experience was a stark contrast with France, where displaying Jewish identity all too often carries risk. Ms Lichentin said of her visit with members of the World Jewish Congress: “It gave me hope for the future.”

The UAE’s government has committed itself to improved relations between religions in recent years.

French imam, Hassen Chalghoumi promotes interfaith relations, defying threats from extremists.

He told the JC: “The UAE haa been working to make their society tolerant. Their policy is based on three elements: they’ve changed their school programmes, banned extremist sermons criticizing Christians and Jews and signed the Abraham Accords with Israel. To beat back hatred in France, political leaders must take action too.”

The Accords were signed by Israel, the UAE and US in 2020. Bahrain, Oman, Morocco and Sudan have since agreed to normalisation with Israel.

Some critics suggest the UAE’s newfound religious tolerance may be a way to take the focus off human rights concerns. A French historian of religion, Odon Vallet, told the JC: “There is ambiguity in the Emirati approach but then again, there is no doubt the country has made great progress as far as religious tolerance goes.”

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