The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

Bahrain: Washington Conference with Zionist Participation Divides Opposition

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By Shahira Salloum
Al-Akhbar English
December 13, 2011

A planned conference in support of the Bahraini uprising caused a stir among opposition activists after it was revealed that prominent pro-Israeli figures were invited to attend.

“Americans for Democracy and Human rights in Bahrain,” a conference organized by the Institute for Gulf Affairs, was supposed to be held in Washington Wednesday.

An informed opposition source said that the conference has been postponed but didn’t disclose the reasons behind the change of plans.

The goal of the conference was to shed light on the ongoing human rights violations occurring in Bahrain, especially as they are receiving very little media attention in the Arab world.

According to the Institute for Gulf Affairs website, the event was intended to be a follow up to a previous conference held in Beirut last summer.

However, a closer look at the names of the participants raised questions about how far the opposition was willing to go in order to be heard?

Among those invited by the organizers to attend, for example, are Elliot Abrams, US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Simon Henderson from the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs, all of whom are well-known for their unswerving support for Israel.

Other invitees include Bahraini human rights activists and opposition figures who have a reputation for being moderate, in addition to US officials, European Union representatives, and international law associations.

Many have raised the obvious question: How could Bahraini opposition members participate in the same conference as individuals who are well-known for their blind Israeli bias?

A quick survey by al-Akhbar of a number of Bahraini opposition figures who have been invited to the conference revealed that many were not aware that influential Zionists will be attending.

But most of the Bahrainis, in fact, confirmed that they will not be attending the conference, either due to conflicts in their schedules or because of the presence of Zionists.

Some, however, went so far as to say that they have no problem with getting the support of such people if it serves the Bahraini cause.

Conference organizer Ali al-Ahmed, a well-known Saudi dissident, also received his share of criticism.

The notorious Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi’s participation in the conference was also questioned by some of those invited. Chalabi, known for his close ties with the US, had organized a previous pro-uprising conference about Bahrain in Beirut.

Al-Akhbar was not able to contact former Wefaq MP Khalil Marzouk to ask him whether he will be attending the conference.

However, opposition sources confirmed that Khalil Marzouk “would never participate in a conference attended by Zionists.”

Human rights activist Nabil Rajab said that he had received an invitation to participate in the conference, but that he would not be attending due to other commitments.

It is worth noting that Rajab did not know who the participants in the conference were and was surprised when he found out. He said that it was most likely that his colleagues didn’t know this information either.

As for al-Ahmed, Rajab said that his role is organizational and that the Bahraini opposition turned to him because he runs the US-based Institute for Gulf Affairs, which is licenced to hold such a conference in Washington.

US-based activist Hussein Abdullah, however, does not accord any importance to the critics of the conference, saying the US is filled with “Jews.”

Upon correction and explanation that the problem was “not with Jews but with Zionists, for many Jews support human rights causes,” Abdullah said, “I am willing to speak in any forum and defend the rights of Bahrain, whether that forum is attended by Zionists or even by the devil.”

Abdullah prefers to look at the positive side, suggesting that such a conference would embarrass the Bahraini regime.

“The regime accuses us of being Iranian agents. How can this be true if we are participating in a conference along with supporters of Zionism?” he asks.

Abdullah added that Abrams would not be attending the conference, saying that “an invitation was extended to him but he turned it down.”

He pointed out that other participants from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International were also planning to attend, along with a representative from the Bahrain foreign ministry.

An invitation was also sent to the Bahraini embassy, and a prominent businessman was assigned to attend the conference to represent the regime.


Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

December 13, 2011 at 9:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. As readers of The Passionate Attachment are well aware, this is certainly not the first time that Arab opposition activists have been prepared to collaborate with Zionists before, during (and presumably after) the so-called Arab Awakening. It’s also worth noting that the Israel lobby is supporting opposition groups throughout the region, regardless of whether the regime is hostile or friendly to Tel Aviv.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    December 13, 2011 at 9:43 am

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