Jewish outreach in Bahrain

For Jews, Bahrain is perhaps the most welcoming state in the Middle East outside Israel. There is an active project to build the community. As a New York Times piece tells, this means different things to different Bahrainis. For cynical conspiracy theorists, it’s a simple ploy to appease the Zionists who run the US. For others, it means forgetting your neighbour is a Jew. For the king it  means preserving the Jewish cemetery and unused synagogue and ensuring that Bahrain’s 36 Jews feel safe, while sending out envoys to persuade his Jewish emigres to return. In practice it also involves aggrieving the Shi’ite community for whom there is systematic discrimination and no corresponding outreach. You sense there’s a chilly reception for Jews who support the existence of Israel, or who prefer not to identify as Arab.

2 Responses to “Jewish outreach in Bahrain”

  1. bataween Says:

    The Sunni king is seriously out of step with the Shia majority in Bahrain, more and more of whom are becoming radicalised. The Sunni ruling elite has no legitimacy. Hamid’s support of the Jews is good PR with the US, for which Bahrain acts as one giant aircraft carrier.
    One should commend the king for being brave enough to support his Jews, but that support falls short of normalising relations with Israel. Also, his 36 Jews are a singularly non-religious bunch, eager to make money in Bahrain while it suits them yet not particularly bothered that the synagogue is permanently shut. It is pathetic that they have to identify as ‘Arabs’ in order to be accepted. In any event the future looks bleak for 36 Jews as the younger generation leaves. The Jewish expats the king seems to be courting so assiduously in London and NY are showing no sign of wanting to move back to Bahrain.

  2. fred Says:

    “it’s a simple ploy to appease the Zionists who run the US”

    Not so much “appease” as gain access:

    Bahrain defends contacts with US Jewish body – April 4 ’07

    “Even though AJC members are part of the Israeli lobby in the States, we need to interact with them. They are very powerful and influential at all levels in America and dealing with them is a necessity. Only now are Arabs trying to build ties with them in order to understand them. If you want to win people over, you do not fight them,” he said.

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