Foreign ministries of rivals Iran, UAE send Rosh Hashanah greetings

‘Shana Tovah,’ tweets Emirati FM Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan; Iranian ministry spokesman wishes a ‘Happy New Year to our Jewish compatriots’

Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, gives a press conference in the capital Tehran on May 28, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, gives a press conference in the capital Tehran on May 28, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran’s foreign ministry wished the Islamic Republic’s Jewish community a happy Rosh Hashanah, while the top diplomat in the rival United Arab Emirates also sent out greetings to mark the start of the Jewish new year on Sunday evening.

“Happy New Year to our Jewish compatriots and to all true followers of great prophet Moses,” Abbas Mousavi, the Iranian ministry spokesman, wrote on his Twitter account.

He also tweeted the Rosh Hashanah greetings in Hebrew and Farsi.

Mousavi’s boss, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, last year wished “Jews worldwide” a happy Rosh Hashanah and in 2015 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a greeting for the Jewish new year.

The holiday well-wishes have come despite regular calls by Iran’s leaders for the destruction of the Jewish state and support for terror groups that have targeted Israeli and Jewish sites throughout the world.

Iran had between 80,000 and 100,000 Jews before the 1979 Islamic Revolution but most have since fled, mainly to the United States, Israel and Europe. There are now only about 8,500, mostly in Tehran but also in Isfahan and Shiraz, major cities south of the capital.

On the other side of the Persian Gulf, Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan wished Jews a happy new year.

“Shana Tovah,” tweeted al-Nahyan.

Israel does not have formal diplomatic relations with the UAE, which like most Arab countries, refuses to recognize the Jewish state over its policies toward the Palestinians.

But over the past year, the two countries have demonstrated greater openness to each other, reportedly developing clandestine ties over their shared concerns about Iran.

The UAE also recently announced it will build a new synagogue as part of an interfaith compound that will also house a mosque and church and is reportedly set to open in 2022.

The UAE is already home to a synagogue, in Dubai, formed in 2008. Though it receives quiet support from the Emirati authorities, its members have largely kept a low profile. The new state-sanctioned synagogue would mark a significant step forward for public worship of Judaism in the Gulf state.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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