Bahrain to Jewish leader: Iran is a threat to us all

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has agreed to hold a Jewish-Muslim dialogue in Bahrain later this year.

Rabbi Marc Schneier and King Hamad of Bahrain 311 (photo credit: WJC)
Rabbi Marc Schneier and King Hamad of Bahrain 311
(photo credit: WJC)
Iran is a common threat to Bahrain, Israel and the US, the King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was quoted as saying by a Jewish official on Sunday.
Rabbi Marc Schneier, vice president of the World Jewish Congress, said the king told him he was alarmed by the Islamic Republic during a 45- minute meeting held in the capital city of Manama late last month.
“I made a point how it’s ironic how we share a common enemy and he acknowledged that Iran has been a threat,” said Schneier, who gave the king a hanukkia at the end of their conversation.
The nation has a troubled history with its northern neighbor across the Persian Gulf, which once laid claim to its territory.
Schneier said Hamad agreed to his request to host a Jewish-Muslim dialogue in the oil-rich country later this year. The rabbi, who is also president of the Foundation for Interfaith Dialogue, said there was no set date or list of participants yet but that the conference would aim to improve ties between the Abrahamic faiths.
The news comes at a time when the Sunni elite that rules Bahrain has been accused of oppressing the country’s Shi’ite majority.
Last year Sunni security forces and Shi’ite protesters clashed for weeks, leaving 51 people dead, according to local human rights groups.
Schneier said he did not believe Hamad was reaching out to Jews to rebuff charges of religious intolerance against him, saying the ruler had “implemented reforms and reached out to his opponents and tried to help.”
He said it was imperative to hold talks between Jews and Muslims now because the perfect conditions to conduct such a conversation would never arise.
“Whether we chose to have it [in Bahrain] or not you can’t wait,” he said. “It’s a genuine sincere effort to expand Muslim-Jewish dialogue.”
During his stay Schneier met with the small but influential Jewish community in Bahrain including Jewish- Bahraini member of parliament Nancy Khadouri and Houda Nonoo, the country’s ambassador to the US.