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Is inter-faith work between Jews and Muslims possible?

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Islam can be considered Judaism 2.0. [1] This statement can also be seen in the context of Islamic sources and traditions that see Islam as a continuation of the Abrahamic message of one true god. Surely, there is much in each religious tradition that is common – as each invites man to submit himself to the creator, create a ‘just society’ and live in peace. There are vast differences too. The question that begs an explanation is, why is there so much tension between Muslims and Jews? Why do we hear so much about ‘anti-semitism’ in parts of the Muslim world and ‘Islamophobia’ among some Jews? I want to suggest in this short piece that while this tension between the two faith groups seems to be about religion, it is in fact a political discourse, in which politics is intruding the territory of religion, rather than religion being the key cause of contention. In this particular case, I would even suggest that religious traditions and institutions can offer solutions, rather than political parties or ideologies. The solution will come from non-state actors, provided they are allowed to build up a critical mass, to influence political decisions.

The easiest way to invite controversy is to indulge in ‘inter-faith’ relations, it seems. Especially, if it has to do with Islam and Judaism in America. While there is nothing in the religious beliefs of each religion against ‘engaging’ with the other, political discourse and power relations have made the environment so vicious that often, just sharing an idea of interfaith dialogue can lead to acrimony and suspicion of a ‘Jewish conspiracy’ or a ‘Muslim appeasement’ problem. Despite this underlying tension – which exists largely because of the Israel/ Palestine conflict – there are efforts by sincere people who want to address the tensions. Groups such as Jews and Muslims in D.C., Islamic Society of North America and other local groups in the D.C. metro area have come together to organize events and create dialogue.

The key question in answering the question whether an inter-faith program will succeed seems to be to understand the power relations involved. Who is organizing the debate/ dialogue, who is paying for it and what are the potential benefits for the participants? If these questions are answered, in sincerity and transparently, then much of the suspicion regarding the intentions of such programs can be allayed.

A recent initiative by the Shalom Hartman Institute has received much flak for what critics have called ‘faith-washing’, where a group of American Muslims are participating in an ‘inter-faith’ program and their participation is being perceived as co-optation by the Zionist group. This is a genuine concern and should be addressed, lest the people involved lose their credibility and reputation – the key currency in such efforts. There is a perception that this American Muslim group is being ‘bribed’ into silencing their criticism of occupation and the injustice involved in the name of ‘inter-faith’ dialogue? I don’t mean to analyze this particular incident in too much depth. There are several articles about this online, but the point that I am trying to drive home is about the kinds of questions that we need to ask to ascertain whether an interfaith is genuinely what it claims to be, or is it a façade for buying out dissent?

Religious tradition in Islam invokes the idea of the ‘people of the book’, meaning Christians, Jews and Muslims, who are supposed to be connected through Abraham, the father of the monotheistic tradition. Muslims can marry Jewish women, though there are some apprehensions about Muslim women marrying Jewish men. Nevertheless, there is nothing in the Qur’an or the Hadith that explicitly forbids interactions or friendship with Jewish people. For sure, there have been historical instances where Muslim tradition has treated Jews harshly. But these instances should be seen in a historic context, and should be evaluated for what they are – instances where power struggles and questions of loyalty preceded any notion of ‘human rights’ etc. Further, the golden age of Islam in Andalusia is considered the benchmark of peaceful relations of Jews, Muslims and Christians – all living together under Muslim rule. David Levering Lewis argues in his book God’s Crucible that European civilization emerged after this golden era. As Lewis suggest, the time in Medina during the time of the prophet Muhammad can be seen as one where syncretism ruled, at least in the early part; where Jewish traditions were honored and found place in Islam. Speaking of the Prophet’s mission in Medina, he says ‘For the present, though, syncretism ruled, Jews were spiritual kinfolk, after all, the spawn of Abraham.’ (p.41). Before the shift of the direction of prayer to the Ka’ba, early Muslims faced Jerusalem to pray. The later history of Jewish-Muslim relations went through ups and downs, but overall, one can say that there was accommodation within Islam for Jewish beliefs, and a sense of being co-believers in one God. Of course, later history is more complex than the simple narrative I have provided above. To appreciate this complexity, one can ask the question: Where does one place a historical figure such as Rabbi Maimonides, who was a Jew, but worked in the 12th century Muslim world and contributed to both cultures, as he wrote in Arabic. How does one see a trans-historical figure like him, does he belong to strictly the ‘Muslim’ or ‘Judaic’ tradition? This historical memory is punctured by more recent events, most essentially by the founding of the state of Israel, which seems to have created a discourse of Islam versus Judaism, where no such division actually exists, in the religious imagination.

Speaking of contemporary era and challenges of ‘keeping peace’, Mubarak Awad, who is referred to as the Palestinian Gandhi, talks about the role of the religious establishment in promoting ideas of peace. He speaks of the role of the Mennonite Church and other faith-based organizations that are promoting non-violence in Israel and Palestine, as an antidote to the hateful rhetoric coming from the state apparatus. ‘There are Rabbis and Imams who are joining the call for nonviolent struggle too’, he added; pointing to groups, both in the U.S. and in Palestine who have espoused a message of justice and equal rights, using religion as the framework.

The key factor holding back inter-faith dialogue on an equal footing seems to be Jewish attitudes towards Israel and (many) Muslims’ grievances that the Palestine issue is not being addressed sincerely. While not all Jews in the U.S. support Israeli actions unequivocally, there is certainly an emotional attachment to the state of Israel among many American Jews. As a recent Pew Research Report points out “Six-in-ten U.S. Jews are optimistic that a way can be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully, even though about half do not think the current Israeli government is making a sincere effort to bring about a peace settlement and three-quarters say the same about the current Palestinian leadership.” The landscape of American Jewish support of Israel is complicated and multi-layered, with many organizations offering a strong, credible intellectual resistance to Israeli occupation policies. While their work is well known, I am not too sure how many Muslims in America are aware of their commendable work. Americans for Peace Now, B’TSelem come to mind, when I think of organizations that are working in the political sphere; while Tru’ah (Formerly Rabbis for Peace) comes to mind in the religious sphere. Islamic Society of North America is the most prominent Muslim group that has consistently led inter-faith work on issues related to Muslim-Jewish dialogue. While these efforts are ongoing, it seems like they need to be scaled up, for impact.

So, to sum up: I think inter-faith work between Jews and Muslims is possible. Not just in the U.S., but everywhere around the world. To see examples of this in action, one just needs to look around, to see the amazing work that several organizations are carrying out. But this enthusiasm should also be tempered with the awareness of sensitivities of who is setting the terms of dialogue, who is benefiting from it and what outcomes do we expect? Without this awareness, ‘dialogue’ becomes part of propaganda and PR – and that is not fruitful.

Notes

1. Editor’s Note from Adam Horowitz: When I received this piece I asked the author if this should read “Judaism 3.0” given the chronology of the Abrahamic faiths. He said no and I think his response is worth sharing here: “Islam is a civil code ( governing public life like Judaism) unlike Christianity, which governs private life. Hence, Judaism and Islam are inherently similar. And again, both religions rely heavily on legal traditions, while Christianity relies more on ‘beliefs’ (Reza Aslan has made this point).  The concept of Trinity also differentiates Islam from Christianity. Again, I am not a scholar of Judaism, though I study contemporary Islam. Hence, I still think Islam is Judaism 2.0.”

About Sabith Khan

Sabith Khan is a Ph.D graduate from Virginia Tech and is an expert on Philanthropy, CSR and Civil Society. He has worked in the nonprofit industry for several years, with experience in leadership and strategic communications.

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29 Responses

  1. JeffB
    January 30, 2015, 11:35 am

    @Sabith

    I’m glad you wrote this. Let me respond as an American who is also a Zionist.

    1) I think Muslim Jewish interface dialogue happens all the time on religious issues. For example Kosher gets you about 95% of Halal so kosher restaurants can easily also be Halal and work with Muslim religious authorities to make sure they are. Conversely I know lots of Muslim meat suppliers that get kosher certified.

    2) There are the practical issue like taxing of religious locations and parking restrictions within communities… Muslims and Jews work together fine on those.

    etc… So on the purely religious stuff things aren’t great, they aren’t terrible and Israel doesn’t really matter.

    That’s not what most people who want dialogue want it to be about. What the dialogue is about are the underlying hostility issues. In western countries Jews for a variety of reasons but partially because of Muslim hostility are increasing aligning themselves with anti-Muslim groups. Muslims conversely have ethnically cleansed Jews from a large chunk of the planet. There is a real issue of hostility.

    The key question in answering the question whether an inter-faith program will succeed seems to be to understand the power relations involved. Who is organizing the debate/ dialogue, who is paying for it and what are the potential benefits for the participants?

    Why would that matter? If you want to talk Jews who have credibility / authority within the Jewish community those are the ones with strong institutional ties. If Jews want to talk to Muslims who have meaningful credibility / authority within their community they need to talk to Muslims with strong institutional ties. My chatting with my Ukrainian coworker over Skype is less important dialogue than Obama talking to Poroshenko. The higher up the better not the worse.

    And that IMHO is what the MSI group was doing. Starting to dialogue with Israelis who have credibility in Israeli society and thus can pre-negotiate and not just emote.

    The key factor holding back inter-faith dialogue on an equal footing seems to be Jewish attitudes towards Israel and (many) Muslims’ grievances that the Palestine issue is not being addressed sincerely.

    Of course it is being addressed sincerely by American Jews. American Jews are sincerely telling Muslims that the Israeli government is the one in charge of addressing those grievances and they intend to support Israel and not other bodies as being the agency in charge. You may not like the answer but I see no grounds not to call it sincere.

    The landscape of American Jewish support of Israel is complicated and multi-layered, with many organizations offering a strong, credible intellectual resistance to Israeli occupation policies.

    The ones who offer a strong credible resistance don’t have credibility with the Jewish community. The Jewish community is Zionist. You want to dialogue with Jews beyond talking to the fringe you are dialoguing with Zionists. Now certainly the fringes can talk to one another and good things can happen but generally the fringes lack the credibility in their own community for the dialogue to have any impact. It might be an interesting conversation but that is it.

    As far as your comments on peace groups in Israel I’d agree those seem fruitful and love to support them. I can think of many ways the people can live together peacefully once the goal becomes peaceful coexistence and building the best society possible.

    BTW FWIW I do agree with you that Islam is far closer to Judaism than Christianity is. IMHO Islam evolved from Collyridian Christianity not directly from Judaism but Islam ended up preserving far more of Judaism than Christianity did.

    • lyn117
      January 30, 2015, 2:33 pm

      “Of course it [Palestinian grievances] is being addressed sincerely by American Jews. American Jews are sincerely telling Muslims that the Israeli government is the one in charge of addressing those grievances and they intend to support Israel and not other bodies as being the agency in charge.”

      Almost all Zionists and Zionist organizations either entirely misrepresent Palestinian grievances, or utterly oppose any kind of redress by the guilty parties. Their only message is that Jews and the U.S. should support Israel and all attempts by Palestinian support groups to achieve redress should be suppressed. Many Zionist groups support causing more grievances. Frankly, I find this particular response to Sabith Kahn’s article insincere.

      • JeffB
        January 30, 2015, 4:39 pm

        @lyn117

        Nonsense. Pick examples where Israel has decided to do something for the Palestinians. For example last year Israel agreed that settlers had acted illegally with government support on a home seizure and thus agreed to pay $87,500 in damages. I didn’t hear USA Jews complaining. When Israel admits they did wrong and agrees to pay USA Jews support that.

        Palestinian support groups don’t support Israel being the governing agency they want the UN, or themselves or some sort of Palestinians group being the government. And yes American Zionists oppose that, Zionism is about a Jewish state in Palestine not a UN state in Palestine. But that is not the same thing as saying they reject the idea of support.

      • lyn117
        January 31, 2015, 1:24 pm

        @Jeffb, there you go, mis-representing Palestinian grievances, one of which is that Israel seizes any homes in the occupied territories for the benefit of illegal settlers. Why should Palestinians under occupation be required to go to Israeli courts which mostly favor Israel or its settlers? Why can’t they go to courts in a country in which they are citizens with equal rights under the law?

        You claiming the lack of protest by Zionists and Zionist organizations against this one rare instance of addressing a single fault by the state of Israel is the same thing as supporting Israel redressing Palestinian grievances – those same organizations and Zionists support Israel when it deliberately kills innocent civilians, they support Israel Israel when it imposes apartheid policies and its courts approve.

    • Mooser
      January 30, 2015, 3:08 pm

      “Let me respond as an American who is also a Zionist.”

      So, what’s your ‘split’, JeffyB? 50/50%? 30/70%? How do you divide your loyalty to America and your loyalty to Zionism? Could you recommend a suitable admixture? No pinchbeck antimonies, please!

      • JeffB
        January 31, 2015, 7:15 am

        @Mooser

        So, what’s your ‘split’, JeffyB? 50/50%? 30/70%? How do you divide your loyalty to America and your loyalty to Zionism? Could you recommend a suitable admixture? No pinchbeck antimonies, please!

        As long as the USA and Israel are allies (or as I put it Israel is a USA vassal) this isn’t a hard question.

        When it comes to foreign policy in general Israel has the right to lobby for its own interests within the United States but is broadly obligated to follow the USA lead on matters of policy. This is mostly what happens and that makes things easy. Example Israel running intelligence operations in Kurdish territory including Iran, or Israel currently protecting Jordan against ISIS. I like Obama’s negotiation approach with Iran even though a USA / Iranian war is in Israel’s interests. I understand why the USA is not backing Al-Qaeda forces in Iraq and Syria even though siding with ISIS in particular is very much in Israel’s interests.

        There will be times when Israel needs to deviate from this stance of deferring to the USA but this should only be done on matters of great importance to Israel. Here is where things can get tricky for Jews in America though. Which is why American Jews have a strong interest in maintaining the alliances so this doesn’t come up much. For example: developing an independent nuclear deterrent, when the USA was firmly non-proliferation, I don’t have a huge problem with Kennedy / Carter working hard to try and stop this nor do I have a problem with Ben-Gurion / Rabin / Begin tricking them.

        In a similar vein Israel has more or less the right to govern as it sees fit within territory it controls i.e. at this point mandate Palestine + Golan – Gaza. USA’s officials who believe they have the right to rule in those territories are simply overstepping on this issue. The compromise we have since Ford where the USA pretends to care and publicly condemns Israel doing stuff, and Israel agrees to go slow on full annexation seems to be working well.

        In short:
        USA = does what is in the best interests of the West collectively, particularly the USA.
        Israel = follow the USA lead but occasionally deviate when it is vital
        American Jews = work to smooth over differences between the USA and Israel when they pop up and help both to stay on that course

        The closer the USA and Israel are, the less conflict there is for American Jews. If the USA weren’t allies like 1954-6 then ultimately I back Israel in scaring the USA into resuming the alliance just like they did in 1956. Conversely when Israel gets way out of line, like their behavior in the Sinai 1967-73 I don’t mind the USA slapping Israel some.

        ____

        So now let’s see if you have the integrity for a similar answer. How do you split your loyalty between the UN and the USA?

      • pjdude
        February 1, 2015, 3:50 pm

        please explain how is Israel a vassal to the US? you’ve said this delusion more than once but how do you get to it? because Israel thanks to its lobbyists in the US control US foriegn policy to a degree in the middle east. last time i checked vassals do what their told and Israel continues to act like a sociopath. your continuing to lie and make things up to push your victim narrative.

  2. hophmi
    January 30, 2015, 11:36 am

    As a board member of two organizations that focus, one in total and one in part, on Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue, I concur wholeheartedly. This blog, unfortunately, tends to see everything in strictly political terms, and wants to enforce a sort of picket line (physical and intellectual) against anyone going to Israel, least of all Muslim leaders. This is not a blog that favors dialogue about Israel and Palestine unless it’s with people who already agree with the BDS perspective. That’s a major problem with the BDS movement – it eschews dialogue with anyone who does not already agree as unhelpful, and that basically forecloses any relationship with the vast majority of the worldwide Jewish community. And so, instead of interfaith dialogue, we have a dialogue of the deaf.

    One other thing: my experience suggests that while, in urban areas like DC and New York, it is easy to find Muslim partners for interfaith dialogue, that is not necessarily true internationally, and it seems as though the worldwide Jewish community is far more dedicated to the idea of dialogue than the worldwide Muslim community is. At events like the annual Muslim-Jewish Conference in Europe, Muslims who attend tend to be fearful of publicizing their attendance back in their home countries, while the Jews who attend face no such societal taboo, and are firmly in the mainstream of their communities.

    • Donald
      January 30, 2015, 1:42 pm

      I think interfaith dialogue would be useful in decreasing anti-semitism and Islamophobia in the US. I am skeptical of its potential on the I-P conflict if the Jewish side tries to limit criticism of Zionism or Israel. If there is going to be real dialogue, then American Jews who make Zionism a central part of what it means to be Jewish are going to have to listen to a lot of things they will not want to hear. I gather a great many Israel supporters think the freaking NYT is anti-Israel, so It seems unlikely that people who feel that way are ready for honest dialogue.

      You might answer that Muslims too will have to listen to criticisms of Muslims who support terror or other crimes,but the fact is that if you live in the US you hear those criticisms every day.

      • JeffB
        January 30, 2015, 3:48 pm

        @Donald

        My experience in talking to Arab Muslim is you don’t get nearly the level of anti-Israeli passion from Muslims you get from liberal Jews or Christians. Muslims are way less prone to anti-Semitism than Christians. Mostly Muslims don’t have Christian hangups with regard to Jews so they don’t project all this theological stuff onto them. They treat Jews as an alien people. They don’t think of Israel as a western country but rather they look at the map and compare it to Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan… and deal with it as part of their region (or that region if American) and not an extension of Europe. The discussion becomes a relatively simple proposition a group of people came, stole a country they think belongs to them and they want it back and/or specific grievances about specific battles or events (like attacks on particular villages in Lebanon, Syria…). It is a debate about the practicalities of the situation not some mythical moral perfection that Jews are held to. Which means they often have realistic proposals of what they would settle for.

        My general opinion of I-P dialogue is with most Arab Muslims Israel could easily cut a mutually agreeable deal. The problem that is the real holdup is that the specifics each of them want are far removed from one another often in direct conflict. So I’m not sure what a consensus deal would like. That’s very different than with Liberal Christians who come from a place that Jews aren’t a legitimate people.

        Now where there is a difference is that Muslims are more ignorant about Jewish history. They may really not understand that there were anti-Jewish persecutions in their country. They may not really believe in the holocaust. They may not understand what anti-Semitism (especially Christian anti-Semitism) is. They often don’t know that Judaea existed and think it is mythical. So there is some highly relevant factual stuff you need to get over.

        And in the same direction they have specific grievances. The JNF took X house and only paid 10% of fair market value for it, and … So the response is something like, “well if that’s true then we owe you the other 90% plus interest”. They want a check (or to break the analogy specific grievances addressed) not to assert how Jews / Israelis carry this permanent moral stain for the Nabka.

        Non-Arab Muslims mostly feel that they are standing in solidarity. They don’t have any specific issues with Jews / Israelis of their own. They don’t make it a moral case it is just we are on different sides….

        The thing is that Muslims in dialogue want to be constructive not destructive and thus they don’t spend their time criticizing Israel pointless but rather criticizing Israel practically: Israel has problems A, B C and I want Israel to fix this by A1, B1, C1…

        Now there are exceptions, Arab Muslims (including some Palestinians) who really just don’t want peace or dialogue at all. They get that what they want is something that the Israelis will never voluntarily give them. They believe that some event in the future will force a change of Israel and in the meanwhile … But dialogue is still easier. Unlike JVP or Christian critics though they are willing to admit they want the Jews defeated. They don’t claim to really be after Jew’s best interests they get that the Jews will fight to the death before they see their state destroyed (unless they believe that Jews were happy under Muslim rule, which then creates an opening for dialogue). So at least there isn’t the additional layer of dishonesty where you have to argue that destroying the state of Israel is something the Israelis should embrace if only they understood better….

        Your example of terror is a good one. Lots of muslims do support terror. Their feeling is that the occupiers need to go, and they don’t agree with the civilian / combatant distinction of human rights law. But they get that the objective of each side in a war is to win. They don’t oscillate between
        a) native people’s have the right to resist occupation violently including against colonizer civilians
        b) absolute protection for civilians

        The hold one position or the other. Western anti-Israeli liberals tend to believe that Israelis don’t have the right to resist because they are morally imperfect while indigenous people do.

        So for example as a Jew you start from there and talk about the 1880-1920s attacks which the Palestinians did. The pro-terrorism Muslim is OK with that. You get to 1936. And generally they are willing to own what happened in 1936. Then you can have a real conversation about 1937, when the Jews started hitting back. You can convince them this wasn’t a massacre this was a war, and a war the Palestinians started and then lost. And you go from there like that with the dialogue.

        This whole dialogue is so much easier when you aren’t dealing with anti-Semitism.

      • Donald
        January 31, 2015, 12:21 pm

        “That’s very different than with Liberal Christians who come from a place that Jews aren’t a legitimate people. ”

        Long comment and fairly interesting, and would be worth talking about, but I won’t deal with most of it. Besides, the article has scrolled off the front page, so I had to look for it in the archives and if you are like me, most of the time you don’t bother with threads that have scrolled off the front page. So you may not see this.

        I just wanted to deal with the statement above. Most liberal Christians (of which I am one) are actually taught or have heard something bout the shameful history of Christian anti-semitism. If anything, it’s a mixture of shame and fear of being accused of anti-semitism that has kept so many liberal Christians silent about Israel’s human rights violations. As a group they were much more comfortable denouncing the hyper-Calvinists in South Africa who created apartheid. I think most liberal Christians are/were in their comfort zone with interfaith dialogue with the local Jewish temples and would cringe at the thought of getting into a passionate disagreement with passionate Israel supporters, with the charges of anti-semitism and insensitivity being brought out. Of course a minority wouldn’t, but then, some of them (meaning now the Christian sympathizers of Palestinians) might then respond in equally heated fashion, which is why the majority of nice suburbanites just want to avoid the subject, I suspect.

    • Mooser
      January 30, 2015, 2:58 pm

      “As a board member of two organizations that focus, one in total and one in part, on Jewish-Muslim interfaith dialogue,”

      But as a board member, you are unable to name the organizations? Or simply unwilling to name them? Seems to me you would be right proud of your service on these boards, and want all the other board members to be aware of your comments and comment archive.
      I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t.

    • Mooser
      January 30, 2015, 3:02 pm

      “One other thing: my experience suggests…/…no such societal societal taboo, and are firmly in the mainstream of their communities. “

      Shorter Hophmi: ‘Of course, I can’t leave without taking a few cheap shots at Muslims, and praising Jews, can I?’

      Can’t imagine why on earth Hophmi needs any “dialog” (pace, Witty), since he seems to know all about Muslims already. I mean, what could they possibly tell him? He’s got it taped, man.

  3. a blah chick
    January 30, 2015, 1:01 pm

    JeffB said “Muslims conversely have ethnically cleansed Jews from a large chunk of the planet. There is a real issue of hostility.”

    If that is an example of your level of understanding of the “hostility” then I can see why some Muslims wouldn’t want to talk to you.

    • JeffB
      January 30, 2015, 4:40 pm

      @Blah

      Damn you were being a normal person for a while there. Sorry to see you go back to this sort of behavior.

      • pjdude
        February 1, 2015, 3:52 pm

        what calling out your flat out lies? muslims haven’t ethnically cleansed jews from large parts of the planet. jews i’m sure would be welcome so long they push for things hostile to the interests of those countries. jews how ever when given the chance tried to ethnically cleanse the territory they had of muslims. they failed but lets not pretend they didn’t try.

    • Mooser
      January 30, 2015, 5:59 pm

      “If that is an example of your level of understanding of the “hostility” then I can see why some Muslims wouldn’t want to talk to you”

      Oh, but Hophmi is always willing to talk to them, and tell them all about themselves.

  4. Walid
    January 30, 2015, 5:14 pm

    “… ‘faith-washing’, where a group of American Muslims are participating in an ‘inter-faith’ program and their participation is being perceived as co-optation by the Zionist group. ”

    That’s exactly what it is.

    FWIW, the very first inter-faith convention was initiated by the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in July 2008. Co-founders of the organization that was called KAICIID (for King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue) were Juan Carlos of Spain and the President of Austria with the Holy See as founding observer. Members are from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism and cultures and partners with KAICIID are l’Université de Montréal, Unesco, the African Union, Religions for Peace and ISESCO. (an Islamic version of UNESCO). So this organization is serious enough to conduct inter-faith activities and the Shalom Hartman effort being described here is just another Zionist normalization gimmick that’s not really needed.

    BTW, the Saudi King invited Shimon Peres and Livni along with 192 reps from other countries to attend the second 2008 meeting in November of KAICIID. I never understood what these 2 had to do with religion and why they were invited.

    • RoHa
      January 30, 2015, 8:03 pm

      “I never understood what these 2 had to do with religion and why they were invited. ”

      Probably to annoy them. If they hadn’t been invited, they would have bitched and whined about it. The King cruelly denied them the opportunity.

  5. traintosiberia
    January 30, 2015, 10:56 pm

    The importance of this period from 1880 to 1921 was not fully appreciated and understood by Arab. This was the tome a concerted deterimined esistance movement targeting Brtish French forces both physically and politically and resisting immigration of Jewish from Europe could have resulted in a different outcome . Instead Arab squabbled among themselves and trusted British political process .
    Those normal genuine,snd expected resistance and protests are now cited by scholars as evidences of Muslim intransigence . Unfortunately it was not coordinated and sustained enough.

    The other theme that periodically resurrect is the treatment of non Muslim by Muslim in medieval time . One wonders how was the life of the minorities in Africa,India,China at that time. Could they have offered sanctuaries from the Dhimnitude ? Pre Islamic Arab offered something to the Jews that Islamic Arab did not . But that Islamic Arsb also brought something splendid that pre Islamic Arab with a
    jewish as the powerbroker could never produce.

  6. RoHa
    January 30, 2015, 11:34 pm

    What I don’t understand is what “inter faith” dialogue is. What do they talk about? Why? How does it do any good?

  7. traintosiberia
    January 31, 2015, 12:52 am

    The interfaith meeting or discussion isn’t going to resolve a crisis that is political and militaristic in nature from the very begining.
    Will a better understanding of Christianity and Judaism will resolve the recurrent crises between US and Israel? Will it change Netanyahu? Will it stop him from deceiving repeatedly Kerry,Obama, Biden or Clinton? Will it prevent him from building settlement ,squeezing Gaza and WBank in defiance of US frequent requests? Will it prevent him from doing things behind America’s back ? Will it stop him from lying ? No . It won’t . Repeatedly Israel has acted against US stated interests in different conflicts in ME and has cost US dearly . Those actions have prompted anger and frustration from Demsey,Petraeus ,Biden,Kerry and Obama . But sheer audacity and hubris have kept Israel going knowing fully well that the money would continue to buy them the safety and certainty.
    This very mindset encourages and sustains Israeli intransigence and militancy. The faith is the last thing on people’s minds .

  8. Walid
    January 31, 2015, 1:41 am

    Roha, I went back and looked between the lines for the answer. Of course, normalization on the Arab side is a highly probable reason, but it seems the Saudi King had another objective because with his 192 invitations sent out to attend the second interfaith meeting, he attached a copy of his 2002 (and refloated in 2004) plan of having the Arabs recognize the State of Israel and having normal relations with it in exchange of Israel going back to the 67 armistice lines.

    Looks like the king wanted to mix a bit of politics with religious tolerance while he was at it.

  9. Laurent Weppe
    January 31, 2015, 7:34 am

    Why do we hear so much about ‘anti-semitism’ in parts of the Muslim world and ‘Islamophobia’ among some Jews?

    Because nothing breeds hatred like family feuds

  10. eljay
    January 31, 2015, 7:56 am

    Islam can be considered Judaism 2.0.

    That’s undoubtedly what its founders had in mind as a way of lending maximum credibility to what would otherwise have been just another johnny-come-lately addition to the faith game.

  11. JeffB
    January 31, 2015, 1:06 pm

    @Donald

    Besides, the article has scrolled off the front page, so I had to look for it in the archives and if you are like me, most of the time you don’t bother with threads that have scrolled off the front page. So you may not see this.

    I just get the emails. So I see replies.

    JeffB: “That’s very different than with Liberal Christians who come from a place that Jews aren’t a legitimate people. ”

    I just wanted to deal with the statement above. Most liberal Christians (of which I am one)

    Understood that’s why I used that as the counter example and didn’t get Jewish.

    are actually taught or have heard something bout the shameful history of Christian anti-semitism. If anything, it’s a mixture of shame and fear of being accused of anti-semitism that has kept so many liberal Christians silent about Israel’s human rights violations.

    Are the hyenas or the lions doing better this year in Masa? Do you know, do you care, and why would you feel any need to speak out if the hyenas were having a particular good year and the lions were suffering as a result?

    Ask yourself this question. Why would they talk about Israel’s human rights violations at all? Why would they think it has anything to do with them? I don’t speak out on Burma’s human’s rights record. Israel is a foreign country in the middle east. It has a different religion. It has only a semi-western culture (like Turkey, Japan or Lebanon). It is rather small and the group of people they are picking on is small. The human rights violations going on are in the broader scheme of things insignificant.

    If it weren’t for attaching disproportionate attention to the actions of Jews, Christian theological baggage why would they even notice or care? Why would they feel they want to or have to speak out. And then speak out to whom? That desire to speak out is the problem. Israel has nothing to do with liberal Christians. They should, if they wren’t being anti-Semtitic, feel 0 connection to Israel. The fact that they do feel that Israel is a reflection on them and thus feel some need to do something about it, is the distinction between Christian and Muslim dialogue. Christians cannot separate their theological issues with Jews from their politics.

    As a group they were much more comfortable denouncing the hyper-Calvinists in South Africa who created apartheid. I think most liberal Christians are/were in their comfort zone with interfaith dialogue with the local Jewish temples and would cringe at the thought of getting into a passionate disagreement with passionate Israel supporters,

    I think Jews would be open to a conversation about legitimate Christian concerns. So for example if Christians wanted policy changes on how tourists were handled on the Via Dolorosa that’s a legitimate issue and Jews wouldn’t freak out. Not that American Jews can do much about but at least they would agree that’s legitimately a Christian / Jewish issue involving Israel. But a general discussion about the Palestinians what does that have to do with a Chicago Lutheran or a Nevada Methodist?

    American Jews want pleasant interfaith dialogue about say bible translation or the latest town ordinances on parking and how they affect churches / synagogues / mosque. Those are Jewish / Christian issues. Palestine (excluding issues specific to the churches in Palestine) is not and that creates an asymmetry.

  12. JeffB
    January 31, 2015, 4:40 pm

    @lyn117

    You claiming the lack of protest by Zionists and Zionist organizations against this one rare instance of addressing a single fault by the state of Israel is the same thing as supporting Israel redressing Palestinian grievances

    Your claim was: Almost all Zionists and Zionist organizations either entirely misrepresent Palestinian grievances, or utterly oppose any kind of redress by the guilty parties.

    I gave you an example of a grievance that was redressed and USA Zionists supported it. This is important:

    a) Palestinians made a grievance claim recognizing Israel as the legitimate authority to rule on the claim
    b) Israel ruled on the claim in the Palestinians favor. Israel pays.
    c) American Zionists didn’t oppose.

    Notice the importance of (a). The Palestinians involved agreed that Israel is the governing authority. Now let’s hit your next point with that in mind:

    Why should Palestinians under occupation be required to go to Israeli courts which mostly favor Israel or its settlers?

    Israeli courts can’t favor Israel anymore than USA courts can favor the USA. That kind of question assaults sovereignty. Israel is the sovereign authority. Every home is ultimately the government’s. Every single shekel is ultimately the Israeli government’s. Through taxes, spending, regulation they shift resources in their society to where they determine the society needs them.

    Saying they are “under occupation” is denying Israel as their sovereign. If Israel were merely in the West Bank as part of a short term military operation with no longterm goals why would they be favoring settlers? Why would settlers even exist?

    This isn’t an occupation. Calling it an occupation when it isn’t denies sovereignty. Of course Zionists who consider Israel sovereign oppose that. Zionist are perfectly willing to hear that the courts are biased. I personally agree with you that often Israeli courts are horrifically biased and unfair. I think they should be made much more just. But that’s very different from the denying they are the courts. One is supporting the reform of the government the other is supporting the overthrow of the government.

    Why can’t they go to courts in a country in which they are citizens with equal rights under the law?

    They should be able to. In some places they have been offered citizenship and declined. In others they haven’t asked for it and haven’t been willing to do what it takes to be a gain citizenship.

    Anyway. You are getting off topic. The point is that American don’t oppose Israel redressing grievances of the Palestinians they oppose other entities doing so. The same way I don’t oppose the USA government redressing grievances that people in Montana have regarding water pollution but would oppose the Canadian government doing so.

    • pjdude
      February 1, 2015, 3:57 pm

      Israel isn’t their sovreign. their favoring the settlers because their trying to ethnically cleanse it. are you just not paying attention?

  13. JeffB
    February 1, 2015, 4:02 pm

    @pjdude February 1, 2015, 3:50 pm

    please explain how is Israel a vassal to the US? you’ve said this delusion more than once but how do you get to it? because Israel thanks to its lobbyists in the US control US foriegn policy to a degree in the middle east. last time i checked vassals do what their told

    That’s mostly the relationship that has existed.

    USA interest in the middle east = maintain stability so as to be able to as reliably as possible extract oil from the region for western and Asian consumption

    Israeli interest in the middle east = self determination for minorities people. Break up pan arabist ideologies and instead have small groups act in their individual interests.

    Since most of the early regimes were pan arabic and oil exports we have a clear test. Why does the Saudi Arabia still exist as a unified country? Why are the Copts still under Egyptian rule? Why are Lebanese Christians not separate from Lebanon..? Because Israel was not getting their way. Israel has consistently had to act in ways to support stability even at their own detriment. That’s what the USA is buying from Israel in exchange for their support, Israel’s not acting in its own interests like it would if it were a free agent.

    For example ISIS’s interests and Israel’s natural interests are pretty closely aligned. Were Israel not a USA vassal Israel would be actively helping ISIS capture and hold territory.

    and Israel continues to act like a sociopath. your continuing to lie and make things up to push your victim narrative.

    Israel is not acting like a sociopath, if by sociopath you mean no control. As for victim narrative. Look at the “sociopath” line. It is your side that whines about victim status.

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