Diplomacy and democracy: NCJW President Dana Gershon in the Persian Gulf and Israel
It is only since 2020 that Israel has had any level of diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Between this reality and the global pandemic of the last three years, a trip like the one I just concluded with to the Gulf and Israel is a a new opportunity.
I was proud to represent National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) this year on the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations’s (CoP) Pre-Mission to the UAE and Bahrain and their Leadership Mission to Israel, as well as at the Global Coalition for Israel Forum, which was run by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. It was my honor to share NCJW’s perspective with this powerful group of Jewish communal organization presidents and CEOs — and with heads of state and other top political, governmental, and military officials in all three countries we visited. It was especially moving to hear from women leaders in the region, where the status of women continues to grow and evolve.
Other highlights of the trip included a visit with the US Naval Command in Bahrain, the opening of the “Abrahamic House” in Abu Dhabi — including the first synagogue built in the Arab world in over 100 years, exclusive sessions with the President of Israel and at the Knesset with lawmakers and important committees for the diaspora, and hearing from Israel’s thought leadership in the media, academics and beyond. The trip was rounded out with visits to museums and religious sites, some protesting in support of Israeli democracy, and even running the 10K portion of the Tel Aviv Marathon.
Here’s a look at the trip!
As the Israeli government continues to stall on the several-years-old Kotel Agreement — a plan for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall — I am grateful to have joined a prayerful protest with Women at the Wall, featuring Israeli activist and former member of the Jerusalem city council, Anat Hoffman.