Fatema Al Harbi, Bahraini author and Vice President of Sharaka, an organization meant to promote between young Israelis and residents of Gulf states, shared her thoughts on the experience of bringing a delegation from Bahrain to Israel this month, in this week’s Jerusalem Post Zoomcast.
Al Harbi became “the first Bahraini youth to visit Israel” last year, she said.
“I’ve always been curious and wanted to know more, wanted to see by myself,” she recalled. “I explored a whole different world from what I knew.”
She since took on a leadership position in Sharaka, and is “trying to promote peace, trying to build bridges between Israelis and Bahrainis. We’re trying to promote on social media and show people the real Israel – what I saw, what I encountered, not what we see through the media…so that hopefully more people will join and accept peace.”
This month’s Sharaka delegation included nine Bahrainis from a range of sectors, including education, youth and sports, business, politics and a social media influencer who wanted to see Israel for themselves.
Israelis, Al Harbi said, made her feel at home and even invited her to Shabbat meals.
“We actually felt like celebrities, we had people asking for pictures most of the time. Because of our traditional clothes, they spot us easily,” she said. “People would say ‘oh my God, welcome, we waited for you for so long, we’re so happy for having peace.’”
The highlight of the recent trip, Al Harbi said, was attending the gala launch of the David Friedman Center for Peace Through Strength, an organization led by former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
Al Harbi was excited by meeting influential people like Friedman and former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo at the event, as well as former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ivanka Trump at an earlier event in the Knesset marking a year since the Abraham Accords were signed.
“We got to have a great conversation with them and got to meet people who effect the whole world,” she said.