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Imams, rabbis talk peace in Brussels

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  • Schachar Orenstein
    Imams, rabbis talk peace in Brussels ... Mati Wagner, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 3, 2005 ... Imagine imams learning Torah and rabbis plumbing the depths of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2005
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      Imams, rabbis talk peace in Brussels


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      Mati Wagner, THE JERUSALEM POST Jan. 3, 2005

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      Imagine imams learning Torah and rabbis plumbing the depths of the Koran for
      the sake of unity and peace.

      Sound otherworldly? Don't be mistaken. The wolf has yet to lie down with the
      lamb, but more than a hundred imams and rabbis from all over the world will
      converge on Brussels on Monday for a three-day conference aimed at fostering
      understanding and fighting violence and ignorance.

      Muslim and Jewish clerics hope to beat their swords into plowshares and
      transform religion - perceived as an obstacle to peace and a source of
      incitement - into a catalyst for goodwill.

      MK Rabbi Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), the chief rabbi of Norway, who is
      taking part in the conference, told The Jerusalem Post that "there are
      religious leaders on both sides who incite to violence in the name of
      religion. And that must be stopped.

      "Not only Islamic leaders are guilty. Rabbis call Arabs worms and rats and
      say there is a commandment to kill as many as possible. Undoubtedly,
      totalitarian Muslim leaders endanger the future of the world. But we Jews
      also have to fight incitement."

      The conference is sponsored by the Hommes de Parole Foundation. King Albert
      II of Belgium and King Mohammed VI of Morocco are its honorary heads.

      On its Web site, the foundation said efforts would focus on "concrete
      actions" aimed at putting "an end to violence and ignorance in the Middle
      East as in the rest of the world.

      "For the first time, two religions that have been too often used as a
      pretext for war will be used to achieve peace," it added.

      Israeli rabbinic participants include Haifa Chief Rabbi She'ar-Yashuv
      Hacohen; former Sephardi chief rabbi Eliahu Bakshi-Doron; Rabbi Avraham
      Sherman, a judge in the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court; Ramat Gan Chief Rabbi
      Ya'acov Ariel; and Dudi Zilbershlag, editor of the haredi weekly Bakehila
      and director of Meir Panim, a nonprofit organization that fights poverty.

      Israeli and Palestinian imams include Sheikh Abdul Kareem Alzarba, imam of
      the Dome of the Rock; Acre judge Sheikh Kadi Dawoud Zini; Sheikh Talal
      Sedir, the Palestinian Authority representative for interreligious affairs;
      and Jerusalem judge Sheikh Muhammad Zibdeh.

      In contrast with the Alexandria Conference of January 2002, which aspired to
      end violence between Palestinians and Israelis, the Brussels meeting is
      focused more on emphasizing religious values common to Islam and Judaism,
      said Melchior.

      "Many of the rabbis who will take part have never experienced a true
      religious dialogue with Muslim leaders," said Melchior.

      "The fact that the conference is taking place at all is an historic event.
      The idea is to transform religion into a positive power that can bring
      redemption to the world."
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