Israel's Memorial Day: Ambassador to UAE in tribute to soldiers

Amir Hayek had 'to wipe away tears of sadness, hope, and emotion' as he led a private ceremony, to first to be held in an Arab capital

Amir Hayek, speaking at an unrelated event in January, said he was proud to commemorate Memorial Day in an Arab capital city. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Israel’s ambassador to the UAE, Amir Hayek, said he was moved to tears as he recited traditional Jewish prayers to mark his country's Memorial Day for soldiers and victims of terror on Tuesday.

Mr Hayek, speaking to Israel’s Radio 103 FM on Wednesday morning, said he was overwhelmed with emotion as he led the ceremony in Abu Dhabi, the first to be held in an Arab state.

“I do not remember a speech in which I stopped so many times to digest, and to wipe away tears of sadness, hope, and emotion,” he said.

The ceremony was a private Israeli event held in Hebrew to “remember and to understand where we are, and how we can continue to strive for peace so that there will be no more cases of slaughter", he said.

“We need to work step by step. A mother whose son was killed, no matter if she is Jewish, Christian or Muslim, hurts everyone."

During the ceremony, traditional Jewish memorial prayers, including yizkor and kaddish, were recited.

At the event, Mr Hayek spoke about Israel’s goal of working with the UAE and all those who “strive for peace and strive for a better world", The Times of Israel reported.

“Here, in Abu Dhabi, we bow our heads and we honour those whose deaths have allowed us to live. Here, we swear to take care of the coming generations for a better future. We will continue to remember the fallen and care for the wounded and their families,” he said.

The ceremony was held in the UAE after the normalisation of ties between Israel and some Arab countries.

The UAE leadership formally established ties with Israel in August 2020, which was seen as one of the most significant breakthroughs in the Middle East peace process that had stalled for years.

Under the agreement, known as the Abraham Accords and which the former US President Donald Trump helped to broker, Israel agreed to suspend its planned annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank. Bahrain later joined the UAE in officially establishing ties with Israel.

In September 2020, senior representatives of the UAE, Bahrain, the US and Israel signed the Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington.

As part of the deal, Israel also reached an agreement with Sudan and Morocco.

Last May, a memorial exhibition dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust was held at the Crossroads of Civilisation Museum. Its organisers said it was the first exhibition centred on the Holocaust to be staged in the Arabian Gulf.

Since the normalisation of relations between the UAE and Israel, politicians and business leaders have met and made numerous deals. Defence, technology and energy have been particularly popular sectors.

President of Israel visits UAE in January - in pictures

Updated: May 05, 2022, 10:29 AM