Monday, October 29, 2007

Bahrain freaks out over meeting with Israelis

The "moderate" Arab country of Bahrain routinely goes crazy whenever there is a whiff of Zionists (or Jews) in the air. From the October 12 Gulf Daily News:
BAHRAIN has denied claims that Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa acted against the conscience of Bahrainis, Arabs and Muslims by holding an unofficial meeting with his Israeli counterpart Tzipora Livni. MPs have condemned the minister for the meeting, which happened while both were attended a summit at the UN in New York last week.

Members of the opposition Al Wefaq parliamentary bloc are drafting a new law that would ban any normalisation of relations with Israel and include tough penalties for anyone who broke it.

Some have also threatened to push for the reopening of an Israel Products Boycott Office, which was closed according to terms in the US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement.

MP Jalal Fairooz alleged that American Jewish groups were infiltrating Bahrain and demanded an explanation from the minister, saying he could face questioning in parliament if he does not make clear what happened.

The Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the meeting took place, but says it was within Bahrain's role in the Middle East peace process.

...The news was taken from Israeli daily Haaretz, which reportedly claimed that Bahrain held political meetings with Israel in the 1990s, along with Oman and Qatar.

It also said that Israel's former foreign minister Yossi Sarees headed a delegation to Manama 12 years ago to meet Bahraini officials on environmental issues.

Al Akhbar added that Livni had already met former UN General Assembly president Shaikha Haya bint Rashid Al Khalifa, according to Haaretz.
Last week, they were still talking about it:
A CALL to stop any normalisation of relations with Israel went out from angry MPs yesterday.

They demanded that the government immediately break any contact with the Zionists, saying it was hurting the feelings of Bahrainis.

The urgent proposal will now be studied by parliament's foreign affairs, defence and national security committee in co-ordination with the temporary Palestinian Support Committee.

The proposal was drafted by a cross-section of MPs, who said that tough measures should be taken to ensure that there are no meetings with Israelis, in line with Amiri Decree Number 15, issued in 1955. The MPs are parliament's first vice-chairman Ghanim Al Buainain, Al Wefaq bloc president Shaikh Ali Salman, parliament legislative and legal affairs committee vice-chairman Shaikh Jassim Al Saeedi, Nasser Al Fadhala and Hassan Al Dossary.

They also called for the immediate reopening of the Israel Products Boycott Office, which was closed under the US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

"Bahrain's laws ban any type of normalisation and what's really annoying is that the meeting was held without anyone being informed about it, the government or even us, the people's representatives."

"We want MPs to prepare a report on what they want to do now on the issue to ensure that no other official follows his footsteps.

"The Israel Products Boycott Office should also be reopened to ensure that the Zionists' products don't enter our country in any way possible, because the moment one product enters the market, others would follow."

Aw, he hurt their feelings!

And the controversy has not died down in the week since:
ANTI-ISRAEL activists are calling for a wider public involvement in their campaign against normalisation with the "Zionists".

A meeting is being held today by the Bahrain Society Against Normalisation with the Zionist Enemy, Adliya, at 8pm, where a host of non-governmental organisations and MPs have been invited.

They will discuss steps to be taken following the Foreign Minister's unofficial meeting with his Israeli counterpart in New York earlier this month.

The society maintains that Bahrain should not have any interaction with anyone in Israel at any level.

"We are expecting a large number of people to attend this meeting where we will suggest presenting a number of letters to the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Arab League to denounce the move," said society secretary Abdulla Abdulmalik.

"The meeting will also discuss an incident that took place in a private school where students were asked to colour the Zionist regime's flag."

I am dying to know details about this flag incident, but cannot find it anywhere. My guess is that some Bahraini school got a hold of an International Flags coloring book and didn't censor it properly.

I think that if someone would spread a rumor that Bahraini toilets use a modern Israeli flushing mechanism then you will see a huge new market in outhouses.