Zarif jeers at ‘blind’ Bolton visiting Western Wall; Bahraini FM fires back
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Zarif jeers at ‘blind’ Bolton visiting Western Wall; Bahraini FM fires back

After Iran’s top diplomat lampoons photo of US official wearing VR goggles, Manama counterpart comes to defense of DC and Jerusalem with a photo of his own

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses a meeting to promote the elimination of nuclear weapons, during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday September 26, 2018 at UN headquarters (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses a meeting to promote the elimination of nuclear weapons, during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday September 26, 2018 at UN headquarters (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The foreign ministers of Iran and Bahrain entered into a Twitter spat Monday over Israel, and American support for the Jewish state, with a top Israeli diplomat also chiming in.

The exchange began with Tehran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who shared a photo of US National Security Adviser John Bolton during a Sunday visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall. Bolton and his entourage were seen wearing goggles while attending a virtual reality experience of the site’s history.

“It’s said a picture says a thousand words,” Zarif said.

“This picture, however, says more than a thousand words about decades of failed US policies in our region. In the valley of the blind, even those with VR glasses are still blind.”

He received a prompt reply from Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, who has defended Israel on several recent occasions.

Al Khalifa tweeted a 2010 photo of then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sporting goggles as he toured a site belonging to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

“This picture says a million words…about decades of ill intentions, hegemonic aims and misrepresentation of a proud nation,” he wrote. “Iran is one thing and you guys are another.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, who accompanied Bolton on the tour, also stepped into the ring, tweeting at Zarif: “If only Iran’s nuclear weapons program, ballistic missiles, global terror campaign, vows to destroy Israel and chants of Death to America were a virtual reality game and not the real policies of the radical regime you represent.”

Israel and Bahrain do not have diplomatic relations, but are said to have solid clandestine ties. Both countries see in Iran a strategic threat.

In December Al Khalifa condemned the Arab League as “irresponsible” after it attacked Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He also tweeted support for Israel’s operation to expose and destroy Hezbollah’s cross-border tunnels and in May said the Jewish state had the right to defend itself.

Bolton’s visit to the Western Wall and the adjacent Western Wall tunnels Sunday was met with anger by Palestinian officials, with Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, saying it undermined international law.

“This behavior will not change the fact that East Jerusalem is occupied territory and the capital of the state of Palestine,” Erekat tweeted.

Bolton visited Israel to discuss US policy in Syria and the threat posed by Iran. During his visit he vowed that Washington would remain “very supportive” of Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.

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