Rosa Katzav in her youth
Rosa Katzav in her youth
Rosa Katzav in her youth treating a Muslim patient in Bahrain

Prospect of peace stirs nostalgia for Israeli who fled Bahrain

As Israel deepens its ties with Gulf states, Rosa Katzav remembers her life almost seven decades ago in a country where Jews and Muslims lived together in harmony; 'our neighbors were like family,' she says

Alexandra Lukash |
Published: 08.21.20 , 19:18
After Israel announced it had forged open diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates, rumors started surfacing that Bahrain may soon follow suit.
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  • Rosa Katzav - one of 24 Jews who made Aliyah from Bahrain in April 1953 – filled with a strong sense of nostalgia for her country of birth which she hasn't seen in almost seven decades.
    Rosa Katzav in her youth treating a Muslim patient in BahrainRosa Katzav in her youth treating a Muslim patient in Bahrain
    Rosa Katzav in her youth treating a Muslim patient in Bahrain
    "My father had a shop there, and we lived in peace with our Arab neighbors," Katzav told Ynet.
    "We used to sing about Bahrain being a diamond, the Land of Pearls."
    "The problems began in 1948, after the establishment of Israel, then riots began, and feelings of hatred arose towards Jews. But even then, the good relations with our neighbors remained, and they were like family."
    She made Aliyah with her husband. Katzav was a nurse by profession and graduated from the American School in the Kingdom.
    Katzav's daughter, Orna Darom, said that her mother used to tell her stories about the good old days in the Gulf Kingdom and how the relations between Jews and the Muslims there soured as Israel's Independence War progressed.
    Rosa Katzav in her youth  Rosa Katzav in her youth
    Rosa Katzav in her youth
    "I remember best my mother's stories in which she recounted how their neighbors actually protected them with their bodies. They loved my family and cared for them," said Darom. "She tells us about the market she used to go to with her mother. Jews and Arabs together, running stands together and one cared for the other."
    Katzav recounted how loyal her acquaintances were, even willing to risk their lives to protect her and her family.
    "Our Arab neighbors said, 'over our dead bodies will you hurt this family.' I still remember the taxi driver who protected my family, and said he'll kill anyone who would dare to touch that house," said Katzav.
    She said that she would love to go back to her country of birth and perhaps even find some old friends.
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