Many of you have expressed a wish to read my research. I’m very pleased to let you know that it has now been published by Routledge under the title, Sufism and Jewish-Muslim Relations: The Derekh Avraham Order in Israel. To order from Routledge click here or to order from Amazon click here. It has been a long journey to bring this project to fruition. However, it has been an enriching and spiritually rewarding journey in addition to pursuing the academic rigour this kind of work requires.
In Israel there are Jews and Muslims who practice Sufism together. The Sufi activities that they take part in together create pathways of engagement between two faith traditions in a geographical area beset by conflict. Sufism and Jewish Muslim Relations investigates this practice of Sufism among Jews and Muslims in Israel and examines their potential to contribute to peace in the area. It is an original approach to the study of reconciliation, situating the activities of groups that are not explicitly acting for peace within the wider context of grass-roots peace initiatives. The author conducted in-depth interviews with those practicing Sufism in Israel, and these are both collected in an appendix and used throughout the work to analyse the approaches of individuals to Sufism and the challenges they face. It finds that participants understand encounters between Muslim and Jewish mystics in the medieval Middle East as a common heritage to Jews and Muslims practising Sufism together today, and it explores how those of different faiths see no dissonance in the adoption of Sufi practices to pursue a path of spiritual progression. The first examination of the Derekh Avraham Jewish-Sufi Order, this is a valuable resource for students and scholars of Sufi studies, as well as those interested in Jewish-Muslim relations.
If you look to what is actually happening on the ground among the people of Israel and Palestine then you will find many initiatives that are forging better relations between Jews and Palestinians. These are too often ignored by mainstream media but the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reports that “unlikely friendships are blossoming” in its article on a documentary film, “A Third Way – Settlers and Palestinians as Neighbors” directed by Harvey Stein which follows the life of the great peacemaker Rabbi Menachem Froman whose work initiated so many of these meetings. As Haaretz reports, “Somewhere on a little piece of farmland in the West Bank, wedged between a cluster of Jewish settlements in the Gush Etzion bloc, there is a small wooden shack where unlikely friendships are blossoming. Here, Palestinians and settlers are defying the expectations and meeting as equals, with hopes for a better future.” To read the full article click here.
I found this report in the Jewish Chronicle Online Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was invited to address the Muslim community in Cardiff. Saleem Kidwai, the secretary-general of the community commented on something that I believe is so important for the two faith communities. He said, “The increase of antisemitism and Islamophobia is increasing day by day and the need for unity and working together has never been so important as at this time.” There is quite a bit of evidence that Jewish and Muslim communities are working together in mutual support in places like London and Berlin and online forums. May it continue and grow.
Here is an example of Jews and Muslims working together against anti-semitism and islamophobia. “Muslims and Jews living in the same North London neighbourhood are making a stand together against hate crime amid concerns of an increased threat to both communities in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.” I’m beginning to see more examples of this kind of solidarity between the faiths and one can only hope that it increases and gains greater media coverage. Click here to read full article
The following film in three parts was made in 2007. A lot has happened since then and the situation becomes ever more urgent and more difficult for the peacemakers of Israel. This film shows the potential for peace and the relationships that are possible between all the people on the land of Israel and Palestine.
This final part includes footage of Gabriel Meyer Halevi and Ihab Balha meeting with HH Dalai Lama
Some time ago I posted a short video about Elana and Ibtisam who work together for peace in Israel and Palestine. They both spoke about the role of women in peace-building and how women’s voices need to be heard in the peace process. I posted the clip with the title Holding Hands: Daughters of Abraham as this is how they began their story of the work they do together. The clip is here
I’m now posting Part 2 and Part 3 in which they speak about how they met at an interfaith gathering and how they get to know each other and their families. Part 3 shows Ibtisam’s work in her village, creating a Women’s Council and working with the mayor to improve the conditions and education of women. The video was made a few years ago and I will try to get an update on how the recent events have impacted on the work of Elana and Ibtisam.
A film about Haifa where different groups successfully co-exist and celebrate their main religious holidays together. It is possible and there are some very interesting comments from the participants in this film. Well worth watching.
“Different communities living together in the same town in a country of conflicts, strive to find a form of coexistence that would respect the identity of each of them, allowing dialogue and peaceful coexistence. Haifa is a unique example of a form of coexistence that finds its utmost and highest symbolic expression in the Holiday of Holidays, a unique and extraordinary festival in which the most significant holidays of the three main religions of the local population — Judaism, Islam and Christianity — are celebrated at the same time.”