Israel envoy to UAE warns of 'Kristallnacht' moment

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 27 2021 08:19 AM | Updated as of May 27 2021 08:27 AM

Israel envoy to UAE warns of 'Kristallnacht' moment 1
Streaks of light are seen as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, May 12. Amir Cohen, Reuters/File Photo

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Israel's ambassador to the UAE warned on Wednesday of a "Kristallnacht moment", with anti-Semitism on the rise, at a Holocaust memorial exhibition billed as a first for the Middle East.

Eitan Naeh, installed as envoy to the United Arab Emirates after the two countries struck a historic normalization deal last year, said it was "remarkable" that the exhibition was being held in the Arab world.

"Who would have dreamt 70 or 80 years ago that an Israeli ambassador and a German ambassador would sit here together, in an Arab country, visiting a Holocaust remembrance exhibition," he said.

But Naeh sounded alarm over anti-Jewish attacks that have erupted in the wake of recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip.

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World leaders, including US President Joe Biden and Germany's Angela Merkel, have condemned acts of aggression that followed the deadly violence which broke out this month.

"After Gaza, where we are? We are in the Kristallnacht moment where synagogues are attacked, Jews are violently attacked again on the streets of Europe," the Israeli envoy said.

Kristallnacht refers to the 1938 torching and ransacking of synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses across Germany by Nazi mobs.

"We see the ugly face of anti-Semitism rising again in the streets of Europe and elsewhere and then we come here, to an Arab country... and we come to a Holocaust exhibition," he said, praising openness and tolerance in the UAE.

The exhibition, held at the private Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in Dubai, included stories of Arabs and Muslims who protected Jews during the Holocaust and saved them from death at the hands of the Nazis.

The Abraham Accords -- signed with Israel by the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco last year -- were condemned as treasonous by Palestinian leaders who feared they undercut their demands for a state.

After the crisis in Gaza erupted, Israel's new Arab partners were forced to change course and issue critical rhetoric, putting strain on the agreements that were billed as a game-changer for Middle East peace prospects.

However, Naeh shrugged off the statements.

"I don't think they were strongly worded. I think at least to our ears the UAE has called for the cessation of killing on both sides," he said.

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