Sep 172017

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine denounced Bahraini normalization with Zionist organizations through the launch of a so-called “Interfaith Dialogue Initiative” in the United States. The Bahraini Center for Interreligious Dialogue and Peaceful Coexistence launched this initiative in cooperation with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a dedicated Zionist institution aimed at defending Israeli apartheid that has played an active role in attempting to criminalize and suppress support for the Palestinian people on university campuses and in cities and communities across the United States.

This initiative was announced on Thursday by the Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa of the Charitable and Youth Affairs administration of the Kingdom of Bahrain, alongside Rabbi Marvin Hier, director and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and one of the foremost advocates of Israeli apartheid and occupation in the United States.

The King Hamad International Center for Interfaith Dialogue will be launched in November 2017 with a Bahrain Declaration, allegedly promoting religious freedom for all. “The experience of the Kingdom of Bahrain under the leadership of His Majesty the King is an important moment in history where a leader of the Arab world urges Muslims, Christians, and Jews to affirm that nothing enduring was ever created by hate, that no future can be made brighter by tyranny,” claimed Hier at the ceremony. In fact, the Kingdom of Bahrain has brutally cracked down on human rights organizations, banned opposition parties and progressive organizations and engaged in rampant violations of religious rights and freedoms, including sectarian oppression against Shia Muslims, Christians and other religious groups that has been widely condemned by global human rights organizations and experts.

The PFLP warned against the dangers of masking normalization under the guise of so-called “interfaith cooperation.” “In recent years, we have seen attempts to exploit religion to promote normalization in various forms,” said Comrade Kayed al-Ghoul, a member of the Political Bureau of the PFLP. “The use of dialogue between religions as a cover for normalization is clear here as it comes in cooperation with a Zionist center well-known for its hostility to Palestinians and their supporters, taking a new dimension towards normalization that is perhaps clearer than at any previous time.”

Ghoul called on religious institutions to deal with this issue and speak clearly on the religious dimension of normalization. Furthermore, he demanded that the reactionary Bahraini kingdom end this behavior and instead abide by the decisions of the Arab League to support the Palestinian people in their struggle against the Zionist state, for return and liberation. Various aspects of the occupation, including settlement construction and the attacks on Al-Aqsa, are cloaked in a religious guise and arguments, and no facilities should be provided to enable this to continue, but instead to confront the colonial nature of the Israeli state.

There is an ongoing history of relationships and normalization between Bahrain and the Zionist occupation dating from 1994, when Israeli Environment Minister Yossi Sarid visited Manama, meeting with Bahraini Foreign minister Mohammed bin Mubarak al-Khalifa and Health Minister Jawad al-Arrayed. In addition, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Tzipi Livni met with the Bahraini King on the sidelines of a 2009 United Nations interfaith conference.

The PFLP urged the boycott of all such “interfaith” efforts that seek to bring repressive entities together in celebration of exclusion, racism and oppression, particularly the use of the “interfaith” guise to support the Israeli occupation state and its ongoing colonization of Palestine. Instead, all such events should be confronted and challenged by all who desire a true future of mutual solidarity, freedom and liberation. 

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