A campaign to polish up Bahrain's tarnished image in the United States is reported to have enlisted help from the Israeli propaganda outfit, MEMRI.
A 200-strong delegation from the pro-government Bahrain Federation of Expatriate Associations (BFEA) is currently in the US promoting "This is Bahrain", a campaign "to change negative media perception of the situation in Bahrain", according to the Middle East news website, Albabawa.com.
The report says the delegation had a meeting with MEMRI (short for Middle East Media Research Institute) on September 23 and quotes BFEA's secretary-general, Betsy Mathieson, as saying:
"Bahrain suffered unfairly from negative media reports and 'This is Bahrain' looks forward to working closely with the Middle East Media Research Institute, which does an outstanding job on many fronts."
A separate report on the Gulf Digital News website says BFEA has signed a memorandum of understanding with MEMRI but Albawaba's report has since removed a reference to this, saying it was a mistake and no memorandum of understanding has been signed. However, both reports agree that BFEA and MEMRI will be working together to improve perceptions of Bahrain.
It is unclear whether BFEA is aware of MEMRI's Israeli connection. Albawaba describes MEMRI as an "independent, non-partisan research institute" – which it is not.
MEMRI was set up in 1998 by Yigal Carmon, a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence, and Meyrav Wurmser, an Israeli-born American, ostensibly to "bridge the language gap between the Middle East and the West". An early version of its website also said it aimed to emphasise "the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel" but this was later deleted (though preserved in an internet archive).
Wurmser was an adviser to Dick Cheney when he was US vice-president and was closely involved with the group pushing for war with Iraq, which eventually happened in 2003.
In 1996, she was one of the authors of "A clean break: a new strategy for securing the realm", a notorious document published by an Israeli thinktank which (among other things) set out a plan for Israel to "shape its strategic environment", beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad.
Wurmser was also the author of an academic paper entitled "Can Israel Survive Post-Zionism?" in which she argued that leftwing Israeli intellectuals posed "more than a passing threat" to the state of Israel, undermining its soul and reducing its will for self-defence.
Some more background on MEMRI: