Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa  (file)
Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa (file)Reuters

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) visited thee gulf states this past week sending their leadership delegation to exchange views with leadership entities in the gulf on the threats posed by political Islam and the strategic ambitions of Iran.

The series of consultations included a 13-member group, led by AJC Board of Trustees Chairman John Shapiro and AJC Associate Executive Director for Policy Jason Isaacson. The group met with senior officials, business leaders, security experts, diplomats and political analysts who requested to stay anonymous due to the sensitivities involved in their own countries regimes. Likewise, the countries themselves were not to be named in the press with the exception of Bahrain who is open about hosting the AJC. In Bahrain - which recently saw its first-ever public Hanukkah-lighting ceremony - the delegation also met with members of the country's small indigenous Jewish community.

“Throughout our visit, we were struck by officials' and policy experts' singular focus on the danger to their own countries and to Islam itself from radical Islamist recruitment and violence,” said Isaacson.

“In discussions with Muslim scholars and analysts, we heard about steps that have been taken and further steps being planned to assure that educational systems, media and religious institutions convey messages of tolerance and peace, and proscribe hate and violence.

“After so much bloodshed - in the region and in the West - carried out in the name of a distorted medieval interpretation of Islam, we urged the swiftest and widest possible adoption of such measures, and the choking off of financial and theological support for the Islamic State and other Islamist movements.”

The delegation discussed with a range of officials and diplomats Iran's support for subversive forces in several Arab states, and the adequacy of defenses against the Iranian threat. AJC leaders and Gulf officials shared concerns about the prospect of Iran raising its political and military profile as a result of the July 2015 P5+1 nuclear deal with Tehran.