US, Bahrain sign historic agreement on fighting antisemitism

Bahrain has made itself the first Arab country in the Middle East to have agreed to join the US in combating “the ancient, recurring human sickness that is antisemitism."

US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism, Elan Carr, speaks during a news conference in Munich, Germany, October 29, 2019. (photo credit: ANDREAS GEBERT/REUTERS)
US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism, Elan Carr, speaks during a news conference in Munich, Germany, October 29, 2019.
(photo credit: ANDREAS GEBERT/REUTERS)
The US and Bahrain have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on fighting "antisemitism together in the Middle East and beyond," US Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Elan Carr tweeted on Friday.
The historic agreement, defined by Carr as the "first ever in the Arab world," was signed on Thursday in Washington between Carr and Dr. Shaikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, chairman of the board of trustees of the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence in Bahrain.
Shortly before signing the MOU, Carr noted that Bahrain has made itself the first Arab country in the Middle East to have agreed to join the US in combating “the ancient, recurring human sickness that is antisemitism; the first to include the delegitimization of the State of Israel in that project,” the Jewish News Syndicate reported. 
The agreement begins by laying out the conditions making it possible and necessary, including that "Arabs and Jews are both Semitic peoples that are threatened by hatred or intolerance towards Semitic peoples" and that "purveyors of antisemitism in the Middle East seek to spread this evil as a political tool to manipulate the Arab and Muslim world."  
Therefore, the initial agreement marks the beginning of a joint effort meant to share and promote efficient "practices for combating all forms of antisemitism, including anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel." 
The detailed areas of cooperation will be defined in a periodically revised work plan which will be developed within six months of signing the agreement. 
The two-page document also acknowledges the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism – also a first in the Arab world, Carr pointed out. 

US Deputy Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism Ellie Cohanim noted that Bahrain has set an example for the region and has been doing so for centuries in regard to its treatment of the Jewish population that has lived peacefully within its borders. 
“There has been a Jewish community living in Bahrain since the 1880s, and the fact that the community has had an uninterrupted presence in the Kingdom since then sets Bahrain apart from the rest of the region. Bahrain’s Jews enjoy equality – and the Kingdom of Bahrain truly serves as a model for the Middle East North Africa region of religious freedom and peaceful coexistence,” Cohanim said during the ceremony.
This is also manifested by the fact that according to the agreement, “The spirit of this cooperation is intended to be guided by the principles of the Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration of July 3, 2017,” that ensures that all religions are respected and are practiced peacefully. 
The 2017 Bahraini declaration states that, “for hundreds of years, different religious groups have lived harmoniously, side by side, in the Kingdom of Bahrain, fully practicing the tenets of their respective faiths in blessed, peaceful coexistence with each other. We humbly offer the centuries-old traditional Bahraini way of life as an example to inspire others around these principles.”

The announcement was welcomed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who took to social media to thank Bahrain.
"Thank you to His Majesty King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa of Bahrain and @GlobalHamad for signing an agreement on combating antisemitism with @USEAntiSemitism," Pompeo tweeted.
"We're proud to have a strong partner in Bahrain as we aim to eradicate antisemitism and promote peace."

On Sunday, Israel and Bahrain signed memorandums of understanding focused on establishing peace and diplomatic relations during the visit of a high-level Israeli government delegation to Manama.