Jewish-Muslim Relations Past and Present

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Track Two Diplomacy

Ron-KronishI was sent the link to this article in the Times of Israel by Rabbi Ron Kronish, the author of the article and a friend of our Centre of Religions for Reconciliation and Peace at the University of Winchester, UK. Rabbi Ron and his wife have given workshops at the University of Winchester in previous years and I visited his office while in Israel. He works to bring together Israeli Jews and Muslims to get to know each other. Track two diplomacy basically means grass-roots initiatives for peace and there are many such groups and individuals working in this way in Israel and Palestine. Many of them are mentioned in other articles on this blog. In this piece Rabbi Ron Kronish speaks of a tour he did of the US with the Qadi (Muslim judge) of Jerusalem.

The Other Peace Process as told by a Rabbi and a Kadi

Iyad Zahalka, the kadi (judge) of the Jerusalem Muslim Shariya court of the State of Israel, and I were grateful for the opportunity to be able to present our ideas about “the other peace process” to Jewish, Christian, Muslim and interreligious audiences in several cities in the USA during a 16 day speaking tour to the USA in late October/early November that brought us to New York, New Jersey, Detroit and Washington DC. All of this took place before the recent Gaza War.

What is “The Other Peace Process?” It is different from the political one, which has been stalled for many years. The “Other Peace Process” is sometimes referred to as “the people-to-people track” or “the peace-building process” or “track two diplomacy.” This is different from peace-making, which one of my friends calls assembling “pieces of paper,” i.e. the creation of peace treaties, usually by lawyers and diplomats, who then argue for the next several years (or decades) why the other side didn’t live up to the legal agreement that was made! The “Other Peace Process” is the one that brings people from different religions and nationalities together to encounter each other substantively and sensitively in order to find ways to live in peaceful coexistence together.

Kadi Zahalka is a Palestinian, Arab, Muslim citizen of Israel and a respected judge in our country. I am a Reform rabbi who moved to Israel 33 years ago to live in the Jewish state of Israel. I have served in educational and communal positions in Jerusalem for over three decades. I suspect that this may have been the first time in most of the cities in which we appeared that a kadi and a rabbi spoke on the same platform at synagogues, churches, mosques, universities and communal groups. (more…)

Jews and Muslims Exploring Each Others Sacred Texts

Naomi Seidman, left, explains the layout of a Torah page to a Muslim-Jewish text study class in Berkeley while co-instructor Hatem Bazian looks on, Feb. 2, 2010. (A.H.  Sellars)This is a new graduate level course that is also open to the general public at Berkeley, California. It is about religious literacy which means being informed about the faith of the other and correcting misunderstandings that are often based on media bias. This is excellent as a form of dialogue and follows in the footsteps of scriptural reasoning groups I know of in the UK. The Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations Relations at the University of Cambridge does similar work with its e-learning programme on the Muslim-Jewish encounter and its support of scriptural reasoning. (more…)

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