Interfaith Peacebuilding


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Interfaith Programs

Forum in Jerusalem on Bringing Religion to the Front Lines of Peace

    Jerusalem, Israel - The Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information held a panel discussion on Bringing Religion to the Front Lines of Peace at the Ambassador Hotel on June 2.

    The panel consisted of four speakers: Rabbi Michael Melchior, former Chief Rabbi of Norway and former Member of the Knesset; Rt. Rev. Dr. Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; Prof. Mohammad Dajani, head of the Department of Regional Studies, al Quds University; and Dr. Deborah Weissman, President of the International Council for Christians and Jews.

    The Muslim speaker gave a PowerPoint presentation about Islam being a religion of peace including references to texts of the major religions agreeing on all points spoken. Next the rabbi spoke about the importance of religious dialogue as the central way forward in peace negotiations, since religions represent the culture and traditions of the people, which politicians often don’t. He explained that previous peace efforts were unsuccessful, because “you can’t lock all the religious people in their synagogues, churches and temples and throw away the keys, to avoid extremism, because they represent their people and educate their people; thus, they need to be involved to give proper guidance.” The Lutheran bishop spoke in support of the rabbi’s words and added that repentance and forgiveness will provide us with the way forward. He said we need to gather the religious leaders who seek harmonization; those with extreme views will continually divide and spread resentment and hatred. Dr. Weissman spoke briefly about being the only woman on the panel and explained that without women there will be no peace because their role is as peacemakers.

    The four speakers were received well by the approximately 200 people in the audience, who were mostly were either Jewish or Israeli. Perhaps with the focus that day being on the flotilla near Gaza, there was a marked absence of Palestinians, although the meeting was in East Jerusalem. There was a short time for questions, mostly to clarify what had been said. The main points were very clear: religious participation and dialogue along with women’s involvement are essential for the peace process to go ahead.

    The Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information produces ideas and provides a safe forum for Israeli and Palestinian experts, policy advisers, etc., to engage in creative problem solving, exploring options, and outlining solutions. Participants are encouraged to discover mutual interests. They are challenged to bring to fruition the living solutions that lie waiting underneath the old antagonisms. The June 2 meeeting was supported by the Embassy of Finland and the Ambassador Hotel.



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