UAE criticized for hosting Israel ‘independence day’ performance, amid renewed assault on Gaza

Middle East Monitor  /  May 15, 2023

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is being heavily criticized by activists and social media users for its celebration of Israel’s ‘independence day’ or the Nakba this month, amid Tel Aviv’s renewed assault on Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip and the continuation of its persecution in the Occupied West Bank.

Israel, this month, celebrates its so-called ‘independence day’ on what is known by Palestinians as the Nakba – Arabic for ‘catastrophe’ – of 1948, when Zionist militias forcefully expelled over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes to ensure the creation of Israel. It was then that the first Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, on 14 May that year, announced the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel.

On 5 May, the UAE hosted Israeli officials and artists to celebrate those events, with videos emerging and resurfacing on social media showing Israeli and Emirati singers performing together, including singing both countries’ national anthems. One such controversial video was posted by Israeli singer, Nicole Raviv, on Twitter, with the caption “Children of Abraham come together”.

The performance celebrating Israel’s ‘declaration of independence’ and the exile of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their historic homes and lands was the first such event to be held in the UAE by Emirati authorities, and comes three years after Abu Dhabi normalized relations with Tel Aviv in 2020 as part of the ‘Abraham Accords’.

Other Arab nations consisting of Sudan, Bahrain and Morocco are also part of those normalization accords, and Israel is making serious efforts to also make such a deal with Saudi Arabia.

Activists and social media users condemned and reacted in outrage to the performance and the Emirates’ part in it, as only a few days after that event, Israel launched a renewed assault on the Gaza Strip to kill commanders of the Islamic Jihad Resistance group.

That assault, which lasted until Saturday when an Egyptian-mediated truce came into effect, killed at least 33 Palestinians – including civilians and children – and retaliatory rocket strikes from Gaza killed one Israeli.