A sea of kippot was the bird’s eye view community leader Renee Evans had Sept. 15 as she witnessed President Donald Trump sign the diplomatic pact with Israel and two Arab nations. The bilateral agreements formalized the Jewish state’s relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
“Tuesday was one of the most amazing days of my life, one I never thought I’d see. As I sat on the White House lawn, I couldn’t help but tear up multiple times. The prime minister’s speech was moving as he described what peace means to him and the horrible results of war. It occurred to me this historic step could lead to the first generation of Israeli children to not know war, that no Israeli parent would have to suffer the feeling of loss, as did Netanyahu and his parents.”
On that historic day, Evans awoke early and headed to the White House to her assigned gate. “Security was very tight, checking in. The Secret Service and police were at the entrance, and I had to show my passport. Security from Israel, UAE, and Bahrain were also there. Guards were on the rooftops and other spots inside and out of the White House. Security personnel were armed, and there was personal security from each nation and private security for some of the guests. There was a small reception before (that’s all I am allowed to say). I didn’t see protesters until I left, and there were not many people participating.”
Some newscasters criticized the gathering as “non-COVID compliant.” Evans said, “I felt there was no problem with social distancing, inside or outside of the White House. They handed out masks, and there was plenty of room. They were serious about keeping everyone, including staff, safe. Most people had their own masks, including me.”
As the ceremony began Evans recalled that the UAE spoke about the new possibilities and advancement for its people. Bahrain extolled benefits for the Arab people, and hopes and well wishes from their king. They all spoke about economic promise, educational advancements, collaboration and cooperation.
“I felt excited and inspired by the opportunities already in motion and the great achievements ahead. Most of all, I was grateful to each nation for recognizing the achievements of President Trump and his team. As the speeches ended, and the three men descended the stairs, I saw Trump make a gesture, and they all stopped partially on the way down. Then, as a sign of unity, they all got on the same step and continued down as one.
“After the signing, the look of all the leaders and representatives was
nothing less than pure triumph. Each representative stood, waving amid the applause. People from all the nations cried, cheered, bumped elbows and celebrated. You could feel the enormity of this historical moment in the air. It was about the power and foresight of the American presidency and the American-international dream of peace and prosperity for all. It was about American tenacity to “get it done” when everything seemed impossible in breaking through barriers. It was about trust and cooperation for the benefit of each country. It was about compromise, logic and overcoming diversity and conflict. It was about blind faith. Yesterday was nothing less than momentous in American and world history!”
Evans concluded, “As I left the White House, I stopped to take in the enormity of this historical event. It’s been 24 years since something like this happened. I felt honored to be there and grateful to President Trump for keeping his promise, supporting Israel and making this happen. I was proud to be a Jewish American woman. I felt Israel was moving to a safer place, and I thanked Hashem for every moment!”
Evans serves on the boards of Jewish Federations of North America, Friends of the Israel Defense Force, Jewish National Fund, Hadassah, The Hadassah Foundation, Nefesh B’Nefesh and as part of the President’s Faith Leaders.