Israel-UAE: Putting cynicism aside for peace

ABU DHABI – Journalists are a cynical bunch, and when we waited on the tarmac in the sweltering Israeli summer heat for the senior members of the US-Israel delegation to Abu Dhabi to arrive, a couple of them pointed out that just about every trip we cover for our work is called historic.

But I was still very excited, I admit. So much so, that I did something almost embarrassingly earnest.

Once we were on the plane, I settled into a seat bearing my name. We started taxiing, with pilot Tal Becker announced flight “nisa saba wachad” (971 in Arabic) to Abu Dhabi – and, of course, that this was a historic occasion, the first El Al flight to fly over Saudi Arabia and to land in the United Arab Emirates. When he wished us all “salam, shalom, peace,” it sparked something in me.

I queued up a song on my phone: “Salam” by the Israeli band Sheva, a 1997 hit and perennial favorite of Zionist schools and summer camps around the world, whose title means “peace” in Arabic.

“Peace will come to us and to the whole world,” I bobbed my head as Mosh Ben-Ari sang. “Salam, to us and the whole world.”

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