Jewish organizations praise Israel-Bahrain normalization agreement

Diaspora organizations said the agreement is an important stepping stone in improved Arab-Israeli relations.

 General view of Bahrain World Trade Center in Manama, Bahrain, February 21, 2019. Picture taken February 21, 2019. (photo credit: HAMAD I MOHAMMED / REUTERS)
General view of Bahrain World Trade Center in Manama, Bahrain, February 21, 2019. Picture taken February 21, 2019.
(photo credit: HAMAD I MOHAMMED / REUTERS)
Jewish organizations from around the world praised the Israel-Bahrain normalization agreement late Friday, acknowledging its historic importance and calling it as another stepping stone in the improvement of Arab-Israeli relations.
In the United States, ambassador to Israel David Friedman also highlighted its importance in a statement on Twitter Friday.

"From Israel-Jordan peace agreement to Israel-UAE peace agreement: 26 years. From Israel-UAE peace agreement to Israel-Bahrain peace agreement: 29 days!! Trump diplomacy in action, wasting no time in changing the world for the better," the ambassador said on Twitter.

American Jewish organizations similarly praised the move, with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) saying in a press release Friday that "the announcement of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain is another historic demonstration of a new promising era in Israeli-Arab relations.
"We thank President Trump and his administration for the determined diplomatic effort to help bring about the momentous breakthroughs in recent weeks, as both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain join Egypt and Jordan in paving the path to peace through recognition and engagement rather than by seeking to isolate and boycott the Jewish state," it said.
"These diplomatic achievements are a testament to the fact that a strong and secure Israel, backed by the United States, is critical to bringing reconciliation to the region. The old and unproductive paradigm of boycotts and rejectionism is collapsing, and a new model of peace, prosperity and cooperation is emerging," the statement said.
"Now is the time for other countries in the region and the Palestinian leadership to embrace this model and cement new ties and forge lasting peace and security in the Middle East," AIPAC concluded.
Among Jewish organizations in the Commonwealth, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive and supportive. 

The Canadian Centre for Jewish and Israel Affairs likewise remarked on the agreement's importance, saying on Twitter that this is "Another historic turning point in #Arab - #Israeli relations!"

The sentiment was shared by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which said on Twitter: "We welcome the normalisation of ties between Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain. It is wonderful to see another historic step forward towards peace and security in the Middle East and we hope it brings great prosperity to both parties and the wider region."
"The historic news that Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain have agreed to normalise full diplomatic and security relations is yet another highly positive step towards a peaceful Middle East, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) said in press release on Saturday. 
"Bahrain will become the fourth Arab country to pursue full diplomatic relations with Israel."
"This is a watershed, historic move, coming so quickly on the heels of the agreement announced between Israel and the United Arab Emirates last month," AIJAC national chairman Mark Leibler noted.
"This agreement, together with the UAE one, will contribute greatly to a more peaceful Middle East and enhance the security of both Israel and its Gulf state partners."
"Normalisation between Israel and Bahrain will also open up a trove of untapped commercial, tourism and scientific opportunities between the two states," he added
CONFERENCE OF Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations chairman Arthur Stark, CEO William Daroff and vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein also issued a statement on the agreement.
“We applaud the news today that the Kingdom of Bahrain will become the latest Arab country, after Egypt, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates just weeks ago, to establish full diplomatic relations with the State of Israel. We commend President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and​ King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for furthering the cause of peace."
Following the Abraham Accord [between Israel and the UAE] to be signed next week, this agreement represents another step in the right direction for the Middle East, as it will normalize diplomatic, security, commercial and other relations between Israel and Bahrain," they wrote. "The rapidly shifting dynamics in the region signal a new era of cooperation, with rejectionism and extremism being set aside to give peaceful coexistence a chance.
"We salute the diplomats of each country for orchestrating this historic breakthrough. We welcome the upcoming exchange of ambassadors and embassies between Israel and Bahrain, and look forward to seeing more Arab and Muslim countries embrace the Jewish State in the days to come."
The Simon Wiesenthal Center released a statement praising the agreement as well. 
“From our first meeting with King Hamad at his palace in Bahrain, we knew he was a leader committed to peace – not only between two sovereign nations but between two peoples,” declared founder and CEO Rabbi Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of Global Social Action at the SWC, a leading Jewish Human Rights NGO.
“During a February 2017 meeting, King Hamad publicly denounced the Arab Boycott of Israel, cleared the way for twenty four interfaith leaders to visit Jerusalem, and authored the trailblazing Bahrain Declaration on Religious Tolerance," they said.
“During last year’s Economic Forum in Bahrain, we experienced personally the opportunity to join a minyan [prayer quorum] in Bahrain’s synagogue, the first in seven decades,” SWC officials said, adding that “tourists from Israel and around the world will see for themselves Bahrain’s full protection and support for all religions, from Christianity to Hinduism to Judaism.
“Finally, though small in size, Bahrain has stood fast against the existential threat from Iran. Today’s announcement will bolster its ability to better secure its defense and expand its economic opportunities,” the statement concluded.
The World Jewish Congress similarly praised the agreement, saying in a press release that it “enthusiastically welcomes the news that the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain have agreed to establish full diplomatic relations. It is clear to me that the winds of change are being felt across the Middle East. The regional embrace of Israel as a full and equal neighbor by Bahrain, following in the wake of the Israel-United Arab Emirates agreement, is emblematic of the changes taking place in the Arab world." 

WJC president Ronald S. Lauder said: “I welcome and thank the leadership of Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and the King of Bahrain, His Majesty Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, for this newest chapter in the creation of peace, safety, and security in the Middle East. Jewish history and presence in Bahrain have long been integral pillars of Bahraini culture, and I anticipate that this agreement will lay the groundwork for the next chapter of Jewish-Bahraini coexistence."

The dovish J Street organization similarly praised the agreement, while also noting the need for a Palestinian state.
"Like the agreement between Israel and the UAE, the new agreement between Israel and Bahrain to establish full diplomatic relations – as Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly pulled back from plans to illegally annex large portions of the West Bank – is welcome news for all who wish to see a stable and prosperous Israel living in peace and security alongside all of its regional neighbors. It’s evidence that dialogue and diplomacy, rather than unilateral action and belligerence, are the route to long-term security," the J Street statement said.
“At the same time, J Street believes that comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbors in the Arab world will only be achieved through an agreement that resolves the issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and leads to the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. Diplomacy between the US, Israel and Gulf Arab states must be complementary to – and not a substitute for – diplomacy that includes the Palestinian leadership and shows genuine consideration for the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people," the statement concluded.