Jews have lived in Bahrain for 140 years; the Israel deal changes their lives

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Ebrahim Dahood Nonoo, the leader of Bahrain’s tiny Jewish community, was among the Gulf country’s approximately 50 Jews who thought peace with Israel would never arrive “in our lifetimes.”

“It just didn’t seem possible,” Nonoo told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency from Manama, the capital city where he lives with his wife.

Tuesday’s signing of the agreements called the Abraham Accords is expected to open up routes for collaboration, trade and travel between Bahrain and Israel, which had all been restricted. It will have a significant impact on Bahrain’s Jews, many of whom have relatives in Israel they have not been able to visit.

Bahrain’s Jews weren’t the only ones shocked when US President Donald Trump announced that he had brokered normalization agreements between Israel and two Arab states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, within a month of each other.

Israel only has relations with two other Arab nations in the region, and most of its neighbors have long isolated the Jewish state and at times even gone to war with it.

“We can talk to our relatives and we can feel more comfortable now about going and coming. It actually changes quite a lot,” said Nonoo, a businessman who in 2001 became the first Jew appointed to serve on to the country’s Shura Council, the upper chamber of its National Assembly.

Read More: Times of Israel