The Zionist regime is in dire need of forming socio-cultural relations with other countries in its region as part of its larger “outside-in” strategy seeking to stifle the Palestinian cause by breaking external Arab regional support for it. It pursues this objective as one of its most important programs, enabling it to gain legitimacy, gather crucial information and identify and access regional resources. The Israeli Foreign Ministry and Israel’s public diplomacy teams are at the forefront of the project, with Tel Aviv’s intelligence and security agencies providing covert support. One of the institutions which has spearheaded such efforts is the Sharaka Institute.
The Sharaka Institute currently operates as a long-term Zionist soft diplomacy outreach program in the Arab Gulf region, from propping up social media campaigns in support of the regime to hosting influential individuals from Israel to the UAE and vice versa.
Formation and 2020 Trip to Israel
The official start of the Sharaka was in the form of a trip that took place in December 2020. A delegation of young pro-Israel activists from the Emirates and Bahrain was first to travel to Israel from the two countries, presenting their presence in the form of a project called “Sharaka”. This group later became the core of the Sharaka Institute, led at the time by Lorena Khateeb, a staff member of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s digital diplomacy department, and Amit Deri of the Israeli military.
During the trip, the team visited various places in occupied Palestine, such as the Knesset. Michal Cotler-Wunsh, a member of the Knesset at the time, was responsible for arranging and coordinating the Knesset visit.
Another important and influential person that the team met with was former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
During this trip, various Israeli, Emirati, and Bahraini media outlets such as I24, etc. covered the trip and the formation of Sharaka.
One of the most important reactions to the trip was that of then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tweeting a video of Majid al-Sarah and Amjad Taha thanking Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for their efforts in the so-called “normalization” of the Zionist ethnostate.