An interfaith group from the Gulf state of Bahrain is paying an unprecedented public visit to Israel this week, receiving a warm welcome but generating uproar across the Arab world.
The 25 participants, who include Sunni and Shiite Muslims, as well as Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, flew to Israel on Sunday as guests of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a U.S.-based Jewish human rights group. The group gathered Tuesday at a restaurant overlooking Jerusalem's Old City walls for dinner and a candle-lighting ceremony marking the first night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
While organizers and participants said the three-day trip was nonpolitical and unconnected to the Bahrain government, it nonetheless is a possible test case for other Gulf Arab nations in seeing what could happen if they move toward recognizing Israel.
Shortly after the group arrived, it was forced to issue a statement on the state-run Bahrain News Agency that it "does not represent any official entity" in Bahrain after an uproar erupted on social media. People were especially angry that the visit came so close to Trump's declaration on Jerusalem.