Hamas slammed the Muslim monarchy of Bahrain for hosting a Hanukkah lighting ceremony which resulted in what it called a “humiliating and disgraceful” viral video of keffiyeh-wearing sheikhs dancing with Orthodox Jews to Hasidic music.
On Saturday night, the kingdom, ruled by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, held a candle-lighting ceremony for the first night of Hanukkah in which Jews, businesspeople and other Bahrainis took part.
Hamas, an Islamist terror group which runs the Gaza Strip, said it was “amazed and deplored” that Bahrain had hosted “a Zionist, racist and extremist Jewish delegation and danced with them in a humiliating and disgraceful spectacle,” an official statement on the group’s website read.
The statement called on Bahrain to “fully stop any form of normalization with the Zionist enemy.”
The video of the event currently has over 10,000 views on YouTube.
Bahrain, a group of islands in Persian Gulf with a population of 1.4 million, is the only Arab Gulf state that has a synagogue. The country had a Jewish population of some 1,500 Jews in 1948. However, after the declaration of the State of Israel many left, and almost all those who remained followed suit after 1967’s Six Day War. Today there are fewer than 50 Jews in the country.
The kingdom is also unique in that its ambassador to the US from 2008 to 2010 was Houda Nonoo, a Jewish woman who had formerly served in the nation’s parliament.
Last year was the first time that the king of Bahrain marked Hanukkah. He invited Conference of European Rabbis director Rabbi Moshe Levin, who recited the traditional blessings while lighting the candles, and sang a verse of “Ma’oz Tzur,” the traditional Hanukkah hymn. Some 50 Jews were present for the ceremony.
At that time the king welcomed his guests, saying that “the call to war against terror needs to come from the leaders of all the religions as one. Here in Bahrain members of all the religions live with no fear,” he said, “and we will continue to allow Jews to live peacefully and quietly, maintaining their lifestyle, their customs and the commandments of their religion without any fear.”