The ambassador from the Kingdom of Bahrain to the United States spoke about the difficulties of her country’s geographic location and Bahrain’s role in the Arab-Israeli conflict at an event Thursday night in the Elliott School.
Ambassador Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo – who is Bahrain’s first Jewish ambassador – cited Bahrain’s Crown Prince Shaikh Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa’s belief that Bahrain has an interest in a peaceful Middle East due to its geographic location.
“He noted that it is only 10 minutes flying time across the Gulf and that the whole region would be drawn into any military conflict,” Nonoo said. “Thus, he counseled, there needs to be far more done on the diplomatic front.”
Nonoo said it is the Bahraini government’s responsibility to educate its citizens on the benefits of peace, as well as to reach out to its neighbors to do the same.
“We should move toward real peace now by consulting and educating our people and by reaching out to the Israeli public to highlight the benefits of a genuine peace,” Nonoo said.
Nonoo said that although Americans view the Arab-Israeli conflict as a foreign policy issue, Bahrain views the conflict in a much different light.
“For Americans, Gulf security issues are largely matters of foreign policy; but for us, they are matters of survival,” Nonoo said. “This is the perspective from which we view the policies of the new [Obama] administration, just as it was the perspective from which we viewed those of the previous administrations.”
Nonoo said she has a strong faith in Al Khalifa’s vision for Bahrain and believes that with his plans for the country, the Arab-Israeli relationship can be restored.
Al Khalifa hopes to “consider the possibility of establishing an organization that would include all states in the Middle East, without exception, in the hope of reaching a stable and durable understanding between all parties,” Nonoo said.
She added that her religious background is proof the country is committed to a progressive belief in peace in the Middle East.
“As a Bahraini woman from a Jewish family who is now ambassador to the United States, I stand before you as evidence of new possibilities,” Nonoo said.
Freshman Alyssa Abraham said Nonoo’s speech was inspiring.
“I would like to be an ambassador one day,” Abraham said. “Ambassador Nonoo was honest and authentic. The speech was informative yet informal. A Jewish female ambassador really shows that Bahrain is making important strides.”