Anger as ‘This is Bahrain’ delegation visits Israel

Social media users take to Twitter and decry Bahrain group’s visit to Israel amid ongoing protests over Jerusalem.

Members of the ''This is Bahrain'' group during a visit to Israel in December 2017. [Screen capture: Hadashot TV]
Members of the 'This is Bahrain' group during a visit to Israel [Screen capture: Hadashot TV]

Palestinians have refused a Bahraini delegation from entering Gaza after the group visited Israel amid ongoing controversy over the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise the city as Israel’s capital.

The interfaith “This is Bahrain” civil society group defended its visit to Israel on Monday, a day after its trip was reported, as a gesture of tolerance.

The 25-member group, which is on a five-day tour, includes Sunni and Shia Muslim leaders, Christians, the leader of a Hindu temple, and a Sikh.

It aims to visit Islamic, Christian, Jewish and other holy sites, the group said, according to a statement carried on Bahrain’s state news.

Ater widespread outrage, a coalition of various political factions condemned the group’s attempt to visit the besieged Gaza Strip, home to two million Palestinians.

In a statement on Monday, the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces in Gaza said there was no place for those who normalise relations with Israel in Gaza – or any other place of the occupied Palestinian territories.

It added that the people of Gaza would prevent the delegation from entering the enclave.

Reports said the Palestinian Ministry of Education also refused to meet with This is Bahrain, and would not receive the delegation in the occupied West Bank or Gaza. 

Palestinian protesters burn tyres and hold Palestinian flags in Gaza, in protest of the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital [Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian protesters burn tyres and hold Palestinian flags in Gaza, in protest of the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital [Anadolu Agency]

The #Bahrain_resists_normalisation hashtag was used across Twitter as people vented their frustrations.

The move comes after US President Donald Trump formally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a declaration that has caused widespread anger across the Muslim world.

Jerusalem is home to Islam’s third holiest site and its status is deeply sensitive for Muslims.

Here are some social media reactions: 

Hussein Youssef, a Bahraini journalist and blogger, said: “This is Bahrain has carried out a number of activities supported by official figures in Bahrain, but its latest move of sending a delegation to Israel makes any affiliation with it a criminal act, and more.

If any of the groups’ members denounce the latest move, then they should immediately declare their withdrawal from it. Continuing to be a part of this organisation from now on will only mean endorsing its agenda, which does not represent the people of Bahrain.”

Basmah al-Qassab, a Bahraini blogger, said: “I believe that the Zionist entity [Israel] is an unjust occupier. The delegation’s visit to occupied East Jerusalem is shameful and immoral, and its claim that it represents the Bahraini people is untrue and is insulting to the Bahraini people.”

Nazeeha Saeed, a dissident Bahraini journalist, said: “This is Bahrain does not represent Bahrain!!! You call yourselves a multi-religious delegation … Do not use our nation’s name in your fake calls to peace and tolerance.”

Raeda Sabt, a Bahraini social influencer, said: “Bahrain’s support for the Palestinian cause is documented in history books, and we cannot accept people who seek to tarnish Bahrain’s reputation and discredit its history by normalisation [visiting Israel] – a move has greatly hurt us.”

Twitter user Maitham Almosawi wrote: “Shame and disgrace will haunt the group that gave up their dignity in the arms of the Zionist entity. And thank God for those who were able to shed light on the truth behind these fake people.”

User @SultanAlBahrain said most Bahrainis opposed the visit and believe Jerusalem belongs to Israel, regardless of Trump’s sentiments. 

“As Israel was dropping bombs on Gaza, and Palestinians were protesting Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, King Hamad of Bahrain sends delegation to convey ‘message of peace’ to Israel,” user @chanadbh tweeted.

Source: Al Jazeera