How everyday people can help Israel and support peace in the Middle East

History was made at the White House last week (pri.org).

This year can no longer be written off as a complete annus horribilis. Against all odds, peace appears to be breaking out in the Middle East. 

Last week, Israel doubled the number of formal peace agreements with its regional Arab neighbors, leapfrogging from two to four. To borrow a phrase from the Democratic presidential nominee, the warm peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are “a BFD.” 

But what can individuals or organizations now do to support these burgeoning alliances and further cement peace in the region? That’s the question everyone who embraces peace and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship should now be asking. Some ideas are best suited for those active on social media, some are aimed at those in the business world, and others work best for students and others active in campus life.

Dov Hikind, the founder of Americans Against Antisemitism, acknowledged he hasn’t tracked public comments from Jewish organizations but advises, “If they haven’t, everyone should support this.” Hikind continued, “People need to make their voices heard. Everything counts, everything is important. Something like this happens, it’s something to celebrate.”

That is undoubtedly true. As for how people might make their voices heard, blogger Elder of Ziyon recommends amplifying pro-Israel Gulf Arab content on social media, that entrepreneurs form joint U.S.-Israel-UAE partnerships, and that people engage in the usual writing of op-eds, letters to the editor, and comments on news articles.

Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, an international Israel education organization, has her eye on social media as the crucial tool for moving forward: “We recommend that people use social media platforms to engage with peace-seeking Arabs and send messages of support. Also, to partner with organizations that have outreach programs to the Arab world. This is why StandWithUs is growing our social media outreach to the Arab world, highlighted by our page at facebook.com/standwithusarabic, giving us a lot of hope that [grassroots level] bridge-building is entirely possible.”

Arsen Ostrovsky, a leading Israel-based international human rights lawyer and member of the civil society-focused Israeli-Emirati Forum, agrees that people-to-people relationship-building is important, noting that “real peace flourishes from the ground up, not one that is imposed from the top.” He adds, “At the same time, pro-Israel American individuals and organizations should also work to forge ties between peoples with whom Israel does not yet have formal diplomatic relations. Doing so will lay the foundation for more future peace agreements, while also advancing American national interests and security.”

As for reaching out to those in other Arab nations that have yet to make peace with Israel, Varsha Koduvayor, a senior research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, sees a prime opportunity because “hundreds of thousands of expats from all across the Arab and Islamic world that live and work in the Gulf.” 

Koduvayor suggests, “plan[ning] delegations and trips between the UAE-Israel and Bahrain-Israel” because “delegations or trips can facilitate positive people-to-people interactions amongst these populations, helping to chip away at whatever is left of the taboo around Arab-Israeli normalization.” Koduvayor also recommends, “establish[ing] chambers of commerce, business councils, and other economic/socioeconomic civil society organizations to help support the growing interlinkage between Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE” to strengthen “socioeconomic and civil society ties between their countries.”

It’s also important to keep in mind how these changes could affect members of Generation Z. Hen Mazzig, an Israeli writer and senior fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute, has his eye on how campus life could change as a result of these agreements.

Mazzig observes: “In local communities, there are new opportunities to collaborate locally with official and unofficial representatives to Arab countries who have made peace with Israel. On campus, events that could not have even been envisioned can now be planned and organized. Most importantly, everyone should welcome the [Jewish] New Year by throwing their hats into the ring to oppose hatred and bigotry targeting Jews and Muslims.”

There’s a role for all supporters of the U.S.-Israel alliance to play in supporting these developments. Christians United for Israel Action Fund Chairwoman Sandra Parker emailed:Pro-Israel Americans should support Israel’s historic peace agreements and pray there are more to come. As the Jewish State normalizes relations with her Arab neighbors, Israel is made stronger and safer while her detractors are relegated to sidelines. 

The best way we can support Israel during this unprecedented time is to ensure the US-Israel relationship remains stalwart and Israel has the aid she needs to remain a mighty and prosperous nation. This also means ensuring Washington continues the maximum pressure campaign against Iran; which is not just in America’s and Israel’s national security interests, but also in the vital interests of the UAE and Bahrain. 

There are many ways everyday people can nurture these shoots of peace. You could organize virtual or in-person group outings to embassies or to consulates in your city so that more people have the opportunity to learn about the people and cultures of Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE. You could even make plans to visit these three nations with groups from your house of worship or favorite cultural organization. Studying Hebrew or Arabic, or both, either by taking a class or with programs such as Rosetta Stone or Duolingo would help too. College-age students should consider spending a semester abroad in at least one of these three countries.

Bust most importantly, oppose efforts to boycott Israel, whether you see them in your hometown, on campus, or in the halls of Congress. Isolating Israel was the old way of operating. Increasingly, the Middle East is ready to move forward.

This article appeared in the Washington Examiner.

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