Friday, June 06, 2008

Bahrain's new ambassador to the US: A Jewish woman

This kind of news comes as breath of fresh air:

Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has appointed a Jewish woman as envoy to Washington - the first Jew in the Arab world to become an ambassador.

The king named lawmaker Houda Nonoo, a 43-year-old mother of two boys, as an ambassador on Wednesday, the official Bahrain News Agency reported Thursday.

..."It is a great honor to have been appointed as the first female ambassador to the United States of America, and I am looking forward to meeting this new challenge," Nonoo told AP by telephone.

She said she was proud to serve her country, "first of all as a Bahraini," adding she was not chosen for the post because of her religion.

Bahrain - a pro-Western island nation with Sunni rulers and a Shi'ite majority - is a close American ally and hosts the US Navy's 5th Fleet.

The Jewish community in Bahrain dates back to ancient times, and the country contains the only synagogue in the Persian Gulf.

Today, there are between 30 and 50 Jewish citizens among a population of some half a million, compared to nearly 600 Jews before the State of Israel was established. The community boasts a synagogue and a small cemetery, though both are usually closed.

"We keep Rosh Hashana and Pessah and the other holidays in our homes," Nonoo said, according to a report by the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. "When my son had his bar mitzva, I flew a rabbi over from London for it."

I didn't even know there were any Jews left in any of the Arab emirates. The only Arab country still hospitable to Jews that I know of is Morocco, where Jews do get to serve in high governmental positions. It is also the only Arab country towards which expatriate Moroccan Jews still nurture a great deal of affection, and visit regularly.


At 3:51 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didnt know that about Morocco.

Interesting a woman and a jew, ambassador.

From my limited knowledge, I was under the impression that Jews served in ambassadorships and high governmental positions in the Turkish Empire....though not strickly Arab, it was Arabized, similar to Morocco in that regard.


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