Saturday, July 19, 2008

Guess It Didn't Really Work Out Well

A groundbreaking interfaith conference this week ended on a sour note, with a political spat between Muslims and Jews that Saudi organizers wanted to avoid.

Hopes of a follow-up meeting appeared to be dashed.

...televised exchanges between Jewish Rabbis and Muslim participants went too far, according to one Middle Eastern diplomat.

"This was too much, it crossed the line," said the diplomat, who asked not to be named.

These two participants are not Jews

(real but for illustrative purposes only; no anti-nonJewish feelings intended)

Organizers played down a discussion on Zionism between Ezzeddin Ibrahim, an adviser to the president of the United Arab Emirates, and Rabbi Marc

Schneier, North American chairman of the World Jewish Congress, which drew media attention.

"UAE Official Attacks Zionism at Saudi Conference," read a headline in the New York Sun newspaper (see this).

"People said I attacked Zionism, I did not," Ibrahim told reporters, adding that no interfaith conference would be complete without Jews.(*)

Schneier also gave a strong defense of Israel in a debate on Thursday, after a Muslim participant referred to Zionists.

"The fact there are some discrepancies, some differences between participants, that's normal," said Abdullah Al Turki, Secretary General of the Muslim World League organizers.



Here's from the report:-

But after a day’s worth of speeches by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu leaders, in the middle of the fourth two-hour conference session, a government official from the United Arab Emirates urged Muslim leaders to avoid the company of Zionists.

“We have to distinguish between Judaism and Zionism,” the official, Izzeddin Mustafa Ibrahim, who is listed on the program as an adviser on cultural affairs to the president of the U.A.E., said. “Zionism is a political system. Judaism is a religion.”

He continued: “I can speak to pacifists but not bellicists, who are in favor of war.”

Mr. Ibrahim, a Muslim scholar of Christianity who said he has met with three popes in the interests of Christian-Muslim relations, then continued: “I have only one minute left,” referring to the amount of speaking time allotted to him, and finished off his statements with a broad appeal to begin a “Judaic and Islamic dialogue.”

“I believe it has to start,” Mr. Ibrahim said, referring to such a dialogue.

A New York rabbi, Marc Schneier, then took the lectern but did not directly respond to Mr. Ibrahim’s statements about Zionism. He spoke of outreach efforts in North America between imams and rabbis.

In an interview outside the conference room, however, another New York rabbi denounced Mr. Ibrahim’s remarks “as the same old rhetoric that has led to more hatred and the building of a wall between the Jews and the Muslims for the last 60 years.”

“Being anti-Zionist is the new canard for being an anti-Semite,” the rabbi, Jay Rosenbaum of Temple Israel in Lawrence, N.Y., said.

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