In recent weeks media coverage about protests in Bahrain against normalisation with Israel has gained some attention. The coverage of the protests was highlighted as mass protests by Bahrainis against the opening of the Israeli embassy by some media channels. However, the protests were neither mass in nature, nor representative of all Bahrainis. Tens of people took to the streets in a few scattered villages to state their displeasure with normalisation in an attempt to raise anti-government slogans. Hence, these are opportunistic events by entities with a pre-existing political agenda.
Bahrain is a young democracy where people enjoy the right to licensed assembly and peaceful protest. Some Bahrainis reject normalisation due to anti-Israel values that are deeply entrenched in their political doctrines such as that of the opposition’s Al Wefaq Islamic Society and the Muslim Brotherhood.
However, many others find the roadmap to peace as a rational and productive step forward. The Abraham Accords were certainly not rejected by the majority of Bahrainis. As a nation we always welcome efforts towards peace. Israelis are viewed as our new friends, and further progress on enhancing Bahrain’s relations with Israel is welcomed and aspired to by many.
Radical voices have always looked for an opportunity to tarnish the image of any positive measure taken by the government. The Palestinian cause has long been exploited by groups such as Hezbollah and their offshoots across the region. However, we can support Palestinian rights without denouncing other nations as our enemies or adopting extremist rhetoric.
Bahrain is a nation that aspires progress, cooperation and peace within its own territories and with its neighbours. It is true that many would disagree with some of the policies of the Israeli government, however we also disagree with the policies of all our other allies and our own government at times. This does not mean that we reject cooperation or that we are unwelcoming.
The culture of hate and incitement is foreign to the Bahraini society. What Bahrainis reject are the voices of destruction, the supporters of foreign agendas and those with a negative attitude towards a promising future. It goes against the norms of our society to be unwelcoming whether to the people of Israel or to others. The only road to understanding and setting our differences aside is through communicating and keeping our doors open.