The Emirati and Bahraini foreign ministers on Saturday issued separate tweets taking a stand against racism and hatred in recognition of International Holocaust Memorial Day, which falls on Monday.
“While we remember Holocaust Memorial Day, we stand on the side of humanity against racism, hatred and extremism,” Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan wrote on Twitter. “And together we remember the lives taken so that such crimes against humanity will not repeat themselves.”
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa wrote in Arabic that on the eve of the memorial day: “We stand with humanity in its rejection of racism, hatred and extremism. Together, we remember the lives that were lost so that these crimes against humanity would not be repeated.”
In December, Al Nahyan tweeted a link to a story in the UK’s Spectator, titled: “Islam’s reformation: an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape in the Middle East.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to that tweet, writing in English and Arabic: “I welcome the closer relations between Israel and many Arab states. The time has come for normalization and peace.”
I welcome the closer relations between Israel and many Arab states. The time has come for normalization and peace.
أرحب بالتقارب الذي يحدث بين إسرائيل والكثير من الدول العربية. لقد آن الأوان لتحقيق التطبيع والسلام. https://t.co/MdDd0q8Jh0
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) December 21, 2019
The story covered the changing geopolitical landscape in the Middle East, and the realization of many Arab figures that Israel could be an important ally against Islamism and Iran’s expansionism in the region, as well as a potential partner for trade and security.
Al Nahyan was seen in a conference clip last year defending Israel’s right to attack Iranian targets in Syria in order to prevent the Islamic Republic from entrenching itself along the border.
In July, Al Khalifa had said that if it were not for Iran’s support of Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip, Israel and the Palestinians would be closer to peace.
“If it wasn’t for Iran being present — Iranian soldiers, Iranian money, Iranian support for Hamas and jihadis that take control of Gaza — we would have been much closer to achieving a better peace between the Palestinians and Israelis and we would have a better chance,” he said at an event in Washington.
Israel has seen slowly warming ties with Sunni Arab states in recent years, and Jerusalem is said to have developed clandestine ties with numerous Arab countries in recent years over the countries’ shared antipathy toward Iran and the need to counter jihadism.
Arab leaders, however, have also indicated that true normalization can not take place so long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved.
On Thursday, Muslim religious leaders joined members of a US Jewish group at Auschwitz for what organizers called “the most senior Islamic leadership delegation” to visit the death camp.
The secretary-general of the Muslim World League, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed al-Issa, headed the delegation.
This year’s memorial day marks the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation by Soviet forces at the close of World War II.
World leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Britain’s Prince Charles, gathered in Jerusalem this week for the fifth annual World Holocaust Forum.
Political feuds ahead of anniversary
On Monday, elderly Holocaust survivors and world dignitaries will gather at Auschwitz to mark the anniversary.
Bitter political feuds loom over the memorial ceremony at the site of the former camp in Oswiecim, southern Poland, that will be attended by royals, presidents and prime ministers from nearly 60 countries, but no top world leaders.
Last month, Putin sparked outrage in the West after making the false claim that Poland had colluded with Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler and contributed to the outbreak of World War II.
In fact, the war erupted after Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded and carved up Poland in September 1939 under a secret clause of their Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, who has called out Putin for attempting to rewrite history, snubbed the forum in Jerusalem after he was denied the opportunity to speak there.
He will make an address on Monday in Auschwitz where survivors are to take center-stage at ceremonies honoring the six million European Jews killed in the Holocaust.
Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest of all Nazi Germany’s death and concentration camps and the camp where most people were killed. And it is the only one to have been preserved as it was when it was abandoned by the Germans fleeing the advancing Red Army.
Operated by the Nazis from 1940 until 1945, Auschwitz was part of a vast and brutal network of death and concentration camps across Europe set up as part of Hitler’s “Final Solution” of genocide against an estimated 10 million European Jews.
Once Europe’s Jewish heartland, Poland saw 90 percent of its 3.3 million pre-war Jewish citizens killed under Nazi German occupation between 1939 and 1945.
AFP contributed to this report