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Arab Muslim Speaks at Anniversary of First Zionist Congress

August 31, 2022

by: Janet Aslin

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Ahmed Obaid Almansoori

Wednesday, 31 August 2022 | This week, many prominent Jewish leaders, entrepreneurs and philanthropists from around the world gathered in Basel, Switzerland to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the First World Zionist Congress. It is not surprising that Israel’s President Isaac Herzog was a keynote speaker at the gala held Monday evening. In remarks prior to his departure, Herzog called the 1897 Congress “a historical landmark, which was a defining event for the Jewish people and humanity as a whole.”

However, what may surprise you is the name of another man who also addressed the crowd, which had gathered to recognize an early milestone in the rebirth of the modern State of Israel. Ahmed Obaid Almansoori is an Arab Muslim from Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A former member of the UAE’s parliament, manager of a consultancy that works with NGOs and founder of a research center as well as several museums, Almansoori is a vocal supporter of Judaism and the State of Israel.

As reported by the Jerusalem Post, Almansoori told the crowd gathered at Basel, “It is of utmost importance that the young generations of the Middle East will learn about Judaism, Zionism and Israel. This will strengthen peace. It is important that we live side-by-side with mutual respect for one another.”

Almansoori doesn’t just talk the talk; he puts his beliefs into practice. This year, as head of the UAE delegation, he participated in the 32 kilometer (20 mi.) International March of the Living in Poland. At its conclusion, he joined Eitan Neishlos, a third-generation Holocaust survivor, to co-light a Torch of Remembrance at the extermination camp Auschwitz–Birkenau.

Then there is his Crossroads of Civilization Museum, intended to showcase the rich heritage and multi-cultural history of the Middle East. Originally his private collection, Almansoori has included the Jewish history of the region as well as the Arab history. The museum contains a number of Jewish artifacts, including an ancient map of Jerusalem as well as documented letters written by Theodore Herzl, the man many call the Father of Modern Zionism.

Taking an even bolder step, in 2021 Almansoori added a Holocaust exhibit to his museum. Entitled, “We Remember,” this one-room exhibit tells the first-hand testimonies of Holocaust survivors.

The exhibit also provides accounts of Arabs and Muslims who helped save Jewish lives. For example, Mohamed Helmy was an Egyptian doctor studying in Berlin. He managed to save several Jews and even adopted one of them. He was the first Arab recognized by Yad Vashem (Israel’s World Holocaust Remembrance Center) as “Righteous Among the Nations.”

Almansoori told CNN, “We have so many good stories about Arabs and Muslims helping Jews over time, and that’s the positive side people don’t know about that we want to educate them on.”

From the Basel gathering, the Jerusalem Post reported Almansoori’s response to a question regarding his strong pro-Zionist stance: “There might be some negative media reports, but I’m hoping for the best. Everything that promotes change will have resistance from certain people.”

Almansoori is one of the bright lights in the sometimes disheartening region that is the Middle East.

Posted on August 31, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, August 31, 2022)

Photo Credit: Screenshot/Zulekha Hospital/youtube.com

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