White House Abraham Accords Signing Ceremony.

New Israeli consul breaks down the potential of the new deals.

The Abraham Accords will allow for increased business relationships between Michigan’s Jews and the Arab world, according to Daniel Aschheim, the new consul for public diplomacy at the Consulate of Israel to the Midwest.

Aschheim, who works out of the Israeli consulate’s Chicago office, said that many of the priorities of the business bond between Israel and Michigan are also topics of focus for Israel’s normalization agreements with Bahrain and the UAE.

“The bilateral cooperation between Israel and Michigan will become a trilateral cooperation between Israel, Michigan and, hopefully, Bahrain and the UAE,” Aschheim said. He cited tourism, sustainability, mobility, water technology, cyber and agritech issues as among the priorities of both partnerships.

The Michigan-Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA), an economic development organization created in 2007 committed to accelerating Michigan’s innovative ecosystem through Israeli business connections, has a longtime relationship with the Consulate. The Consulate has other partnerships with Israeli institutions such as Start-Up Nation Central, the Israeli Export Institute and EcoMotion, all closely connected to MIBA, and who all have connections to the state of Michigan.

On the tourism and travel front as a result of the Accords, the ability for Jewish communities such as Detroit’s to take part in joint missions with Israelis and traveling together to the UAE or Bahrain for joint opportunities is a key outcome to Aschheim.

“I think this is the main advantage we can find on the tourism front and the economic front,” Aschheim said. “People joining missions together and doing a trilateral trip, starting in Detroit, going to Israel and then going to the Emirates. Community to community, traveling there together and exploring.”

Born and raised in Jerusalem, Aschheim previously served as the deputy Israeli ambassador to Senegal before beginning his new role in the U.S. in September. In the role, Aschheim is responsible for Jewish outreach, intercommunity relations and diplomatic relations between nine Midwestern states and Israel.

Aschheim’s vision of strengthening the Israeli-Michigan bond is through cultural ties, economic projects, joint projects and academic cooperation.

On a webinar In August, according to Aschheim, new potential cooperations between Israel and Michigan began in finding solutions for environment, sustainability, mobility, water technology, cyber and agritech issues.

Those very topics Israel and Michigan are putting a focus on together also happen to be topics Israel is putting a focus on in the Accords with the UAE and Bahrain.

The Accords, according to Aschheim, could benefit the average person who works in a Detroit Ford factory, when seeking new innovations and technologies in areas such as mobility and sustainability, could connect with those in the UAE and Bahrain over those new technologies.

“The people who are on the ground in these Michigan factories who are members of the Jewish community eventually will connect to companies in Israel and the UAE and Bahrain,” Aschheim says in regard to the possible shared innovations.

Beginning Stages

Aschheim stresses that they are in the beginning stages of building the bilateral relationship. In November, Bahrain’s minister of foreign affairs visited Israel for the very first time, to finalize the details of the Accords.

“After we have finalized this stage of building strong, sustainable and viable relations with these countries and with companies, we are going to expand the cooperation to further parties,” Aschheim said. “Then we are going to start reaching out to our partners that we’re already working with on various projects to include them, hopefully, in the new agreements that are coming.”

As far as what the Abraham Accords may mean for the Palestinians, Aschheim would like to see more and more additions to the Abraham Accords in general, and he believes Palestinians recently resuming the security cooperation with Israel is a good step.

“I hope that the Palestinians will return to the negotiation table,” Aschheim said. “I hope they understand that the right way is pursuing peace with Israel — a sustainable, viable peace agreement with Israel — so we can all live together in this small area.”

The Consulate has plans for reaching out to the Detroit Jewish community. Aschheim hopes that, regardless of political affiliation or specific denomination of Jewish faith, the Abraham Accords encourage the Detroit Jewish community to get involved and renew their personal ties to Israel.

“This is one of our top priorities. We have very good ties with the [Detroit] Jewish Federation and JCRC, and we want to reach out to more and more congregations, community members, young professionals and young adults,” Aschheim said. “We are looking forward to finding ways to cooperate and bring them opportunities that they’re interested in and to understand what Israel can do for them.”

“We want to be here for the Jews of Detroit, whatever they need and whenever they need it.”

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