In a WebTalk with the World Jewish Congress in mid-November, Ambassador of the Kingdom Bahrain to the United States H.E. Shaikh Abdulla Bin Rashid Al Khalifa, spoke about the everchanging geopolitics of the Middle East in the wake of his government’s normalization agreement with Israel, as well as Bahrain’s small but historic Jewish community which he noted “has always played an important and prominent role in Bahrain’s history and has been an integral part of the national fabric.”
Just day earlier, the first official delegation of Bahraini officials arrived in Israel for a visit during which the two countries agreed to open embassies, implement a visa system and begin weekly commercial flights. Ambassador Al Khalifa noted that these moves were indicative of Bahrain’s commitment to a warm peace with Israel and bilateral cooperation between the citizens of the two countries. Both countries have been praised for implementing such changes so quickly, a move the ambassador said he hoped would set a precedent for other countries in the region.
“This is an exciting time, not just for Bahrain but for the region as a whole,” the ambassador said, “We have embraced the change.” Bahrain intends to assist in building regional momentum, Ambassador Al Khalifa said, specifically with regards to the Palestinian cause. The ambassador stressed his hope that these agreements would incentivize the Palestinian leadership to come to an agreement with Israel.
The ambassador acknowledged during that the contemporary Jewish community of Bahrain can trace its roots back several hundred years, adding that Bahrain’s commitment to support its Jewish community predates any normalization effort with Israel. He added that the Jewish community has long been represented in Bahrain’s national government, highlighting in particular the role of Ambassador Houda Nonoo, who in 2008 became the first Jewish woman to represent an Arab nation in her former post as Bahraini envoy to the United States.
In closing, Ambassador Al-Khalifa said he hoped he would continue to have the opportunity to work with the World Jewish Congress on various initiatives, adding, “with your scope and breadth, the World Jewish Congress can play an invaluable role for all Jews and Muslims. We can work hand-in-hand to better educate our people throughout the world about the accords and explore ways that both Muslims and Jews can benefit from one another.”