|From left: David Lazar, Jerald Whitehouse, Joseph Ehrenkrenz, John Taylor, Mohamed Mudather Ali and Mohamed Ben Breika at the 5th Doha Conference on Inter-Faith Dialogue at the Marriott Hotel yesterday.|
DOHA • Jewish spiritual leaders (rabbis) have not been silent on the issue of ill-treatment of the people of Palestine by Israel, a rabbi from New York said yesterday.
Roland Matalon said intervening during discussions at an international inter-faith dialogue here yesterday that accusations that rabbis have been moot spectators of the atrocities being committed on Palestinians by Israel are untrue.
"The rabbis have never been silent on this issue. We have been talking about the sufferings of the people of Palestine. We are for restoring their dignity. We want two states existing side by side where the Palestinians and Jews could live in peace as neighbours," said Matalon. "We are not only praying for this to happen. We are working towards this end."
He was responding to comments made by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Dr (Sheikh) Tayseer Rajab Al Tamimi that while Israel was perpetrating atrocities on innocent Palestinians and killing old men, women and children, the rabbis have been watching the gory goings on in silence.
Justice has so far not been done (to Palestinians), Matalon admitted responding to Al Tamimi's accusations.
The discussions were being held after a panel of experts spoke of the role of mysticism in burying the differences among the follower of the revealed faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and bringing them together.
Speakers included Dr Souad Al Hakim, from Lebanon; Joseph Ehrenkrenz, from the US; David Lazar, from Israel; John Taylor, from the US; and Jerald Whitehouse from Venezuela. Professor Saad Harib, from the UAE; and Dr Mohamed Ben Breika, from Algeria, were the moderators.
A number of ideas to encourage mysticism (which remains overshadowed by materialism) were floated so as to help curb extremism and among them was to begin cultural exchanges between Israel and Palestine and people-to-people dialogue.
Lazar, in his address, suggested that a beginning to help narrow the yawning Muslim-Jewish divide can be made if Muslims begin learning the basics about Judaism and vice versa.
He said he had five daughters and all of them study the Holy Quran, Bible, aside from their own religious holy book. "Let's make a beginning," he said.
In remarks to this newspaper later, he said that the Doha Conference has proved quite fruitful since it provides an opportunity for Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders to interact.
One-to-one meetings between delegates representing the three different faiths have been taking place on the sidelines of the convention on sensitive community and religious issues and on how to further dialogue, especially between Muslim and Jewish leaders.
"We will keep in touch with one another through e-mail and personal visits. This is important," said Lazar. "I am feeling quite at home here. Last year (during the last inter-faith dialogue), it was my first visit to an Arab country, so I was a bit nervous," he said.