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September 15, 2020 2:38 pm

Top Bahrain Official Meets With Representative of Country’s Jewish Community on the Eve of Signing Peace Treaty With Israel

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa speaks during a news conference in Manama, Bahrain, August 29, 2016. Photo: REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo.

As Israel prepared to sign its peace treaty with Bahrain on Tuesday, the Gulf state’s King’s Advisor for Diplomatic Affairs met with the representative of Bahrain’s Jewish community.

Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa hosted Ebrahim Daoud Nonoo, a prominent businessman and the only Jewish member of the Bahraini parliament, the Bahrain News Agency reported.

The Sheikh praised Nonoo’s patriotism and the Jewish community in general for its contributions to Bahraini society, which he called a model of coexistence.

Nonoo said that he appreciated Al Khalifa’s efforts to reach out to all sectors of society.

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Last Saturday, Israeli daily, Yediot Ahronot quoted Nonoo calling Bahrain’s peace agreement with Israel “a historic moment that we did not think we would see in our lifetime.”

“We want to thank His Excellency for the vision that led him to make such a decision and for his faith in a life together,” he said. “We look forward to a relationship that will benefit both countries.”

The Saudi-owned, Dubai-based media outlet Al Arabiya reported on Monday that the Bahraini Jewish community — which numbers only a few dozen individuals — is extremely hopeful about the peace deal, with Nonoo himself saying, “The agreement changes everything.”

Jews have lived in Bahrain since the late 1800s, mostly descended from Iraqi Jews who came looking for economic opportunity.

A synagogue was founded, but was later destroyed in an antisemitic attack and its Torah scroll stolen, though it was eventually returned.

Today, the Jewish community is keen to revive its religious life, as it now has a synagogue but no rabbi — a disadvantage it is now hoping to rectify.

The peace agreement, Nonoo said, “allows us to have the ability to educate the kids in Hebrew, to have an active community and synagogue.”

Nonoo also expressed pride in his country, saying, “I really do consider myself a Bahraini. It wasn’t the Bahrainis that took objection to the Jews after 1948. The backlash was mostly from a group of foreign workers in the country.”

He is particularly enthusiastic about Israeli tourism to Bahrain, saying, “The children of the Jews who left for Israel will be able to return and visit the houses where their parents used to live” and “for me as a Jew, it will be a very heartening thing to be a guide for Jewish visitors from Israel.”

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