Sunday, February 9, 2014

What Happened to the Jews of Bahrain ?

Nadene Goldfoot                                            
Bahrain is a group of islands which is an Emirate in the Persian Gulf. It is a monarchy with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah. He has a new law.  If anyone insults him, they will be thrown in jail.  The Arab Spring brought out people who wanted more of a Democracy.  "Demonstrators say authorities killed dozens of people and arrested, tortured and imprisoned hundreds of others. Opposition leaders have tried to keep the protest movement alive."  

The present capital is Manama.   The majority are Shiites.   Hajar, the ancient capital, recorded Jews living there in 630 CE, about the time of Mohammad who was born in 570 and died in 632.  They refused to convert to Islam.  Later, Jews who originated in Iraq, Iran and India  first settled there in the late 19th century. The Yadgar family came from Iraq in 1880.

Benjamin of Tudela found in the 12th Century that 500 Jews were living in Qays.  He found 5,000 in al Qatifa who were involved in their pearl industry.   Many came because of being traders and finding the place very satisfactory,  stayed there.  Such was the Nonoo family who went into banking.

 Life was peaceful for them until 1947 and the discussion of the declaration of Israel.  At that time there were anti-Jewish demonstrations here as well as in other Middle East countries.  By 1948 there were 1,500 Jews in Bahrain.  In 1956 there were 400 Jews who lived there. "By the 1960s, about 200 to 300 Jews remained in Bahrain, but once riots broke out again following the Six Day War in 1967, virtually the entire Jewish community left the country..  

 By 1980, very few remained.  Right now there are 36 left of which one, Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo,  a woman, was their ambassador to the USA.  She was chosen in 2008. Her term was up November 2013.   The 36 still  have a synagogue, but it is not being used.  It's closed. One was destroyed in the 1948 riots.  Boys are sent to public school where all the students study the Koran.  Girls are sent to the American school.

These Jews cannot visit Israel if they so wanted to because they hold a Bahraini passport.  Actually, they show, at least publicly, no interest or ties to Israel. Houda said she only learned of the Holocaust when she was 14 years old.

 Since the Arab intifada of 2004, Oman closed their trade office and agreed to stop boycotting companies that dealt with Israeli companies in order to have a free-trade agreement with the USA

This is the same story as all the Middle Eastern countries have of their Jewish population.  Jews were held as Dhimmis, or 2nd-3rd class citizens, and when Israel was about to be created, rioting broke out in Palestine and all over against it from happening.  The result was that Jews were attacked and many were killed, which caused a great influx of Mizrachi Jews to flee to Israel, which is what it was set up to be, a haven for Jews who were being persecuted.  The Arab rioting and nonacceptance of Jews in what they considered to be Muslim only territory helped to expand the Jewish population of Israel.  Jews had been held back from entering Israel before by the British who allowed only Arabs to enter while they held the  mandate which was up on April 14, 1948.  That's when Israel announced it was officially a state, having been voted on in the UN and accepted.


No comments:

Post a Comment