ARZU KAYA – Muslim-Jewish dialogue and Israel-Palestine peace

Muslim-Jewish dialogue and Israel-Palestine peace”If the religions of this region cannot produce people who are capable of offering a vision for saving humanity, then all three Abrahamic traditions have outlived their usefulness,” says Yehezkel Landau in “Healing the Holy Land: Interreligious Peacebuilding in Israelalestine.” Recently we have been hearing many statements to this effect from people who are heartbroken and skeptical about religion and faith in light of current events.

It is very difficult to talk about a holistic peace process in the region with the current situation as it is.It’s not possible to talk about peace through interfaith dialogue if leaders don’t commit to problem solving on the grounds of moral values rather than using military convoys to reach their political targets.

Also, it’s not fair to talk about a holistic peace process if a spiritual aspect to peacebuilding is not included in diplomatic efforts with a sense of mutual hope. Moreover, it’s not possible to talk about a spiritual solution if we only talk about a bilateral dispute between Israel and the Palestinians instead of regional catastrophe with multiple flashpoints.

I have been asked why dialogue between the Jewish and Muslim communities in the US has not had much of an effect on the peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis. First of all, this problem is not between Jews and Muslims in the US directly.

However, since it continues to have such destructive effects on humanity as a whole, finding a lasting peace in the region is a responsibility that we all share.Still, we should acknowledge that there are obstacles in the way of a constructive dialogue between the American Muslim and Jewish communities.

The mistrust between these communities is the biggest challenge. Both parties wonder about the other’s hidden agendas.

This mistrust has roots in Middle East history, while misinformation and limited knowledge about the other group feeds a sense of discomfort on both sides. Beyond this, Muslim and Jewish communities in the US are at very different levels of development in the country.

Since Muslims are relatively newer in the US, the development of Muslim institutions and religious leadership is still in progress. The Jewish community is more deeply rooted in American culture and political life.

While “Muslim American” identity is in continuous flux as many cultures strive to be part of a united religious community in their new home, Jewish foundations are very well operated and organized. These differences change priorities within the communities.

Another obstacle is that the Jewish and Muslim communities become involved in dialogue for different reasons. Jewish communities are seeking dialogue with Muslims to help to bring peace in the Middle East meanwhile, the priority of Muslim communities most often concerns misrepresentations of Islam in the media and civil right issues of Muslims in the US.

Muslims typically engage in dialogue to introduce Islam to American society.Last but not least, both Muslims and Jews have different approaches to sacred law and authority.

Jewish communities are more flexible and open to diversity of religious observation. Yet, Muslims agree that there are fundamental religious laws and requirements that Muslims have to adhere to, despite the fact that individuals may practice their religion differently.

Hopefully these obstacles will not be very difficult to address. As children of Abraham, Muslims and Jews will hopefully be able to improve their relationship through learning and working together to expand constructive relationships, both here in the US, and eventually, between Israel and Palestine in the region.

“We need to move from conferences and intellectual dialogues to a dialogue of the heart, of prayer, of meditation. We need to bring God into this conflict, because only God has the power to create the kind of miracles that can save us,” wrote Landau.

It’s about time to pull interfaith dialogue into the center of the problem-solving process and begin to build around it. The problems which have troubled the region for decades are not only between political leaders but also between people.

The people within society, however, have a chance to salvage this tragic situation. We need to realize that in order to transform this history of pain into a mutual blessing we should work together Only with God’s help can our fear be transformed into trust, anger into compassion and grief into mercy.

We have learned that politicians cannot solve the problem but that people with God can.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman