With rare Israel visit, Bahraini delegation seeks new dialogue for coexistence

6-1024x640In a strikingly rare instance of a visit to Israel by representatives from an Arab country without diplomatic relations, a delegation of religious figures from the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain traveled to the Jewish state last month “to send a message of peace” from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

“Our message is peaceful coexistence with no government involvement,” said Betsy Mathieson, president of the Bahrain-based nongovernmental organization “This is Bahrain,” who led the delegation.

In an exclusive Times of Israel Persian edition interview with members of the delegation in Jerusalem, Mathieson said that her seven-year-old NGO “celebrates religious freedom and peaceful coexistence by sharing the centuries-old humble Bahraini way of life, where people of all faiths live together in the spirit of mutual respect and love.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 

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Israel behind ‘Christian exodus’ from Palestine

palestiniansBeit Jala, Palestine – The Israeli occupation of Palestine is the main factor behind the exodus of Palestinian Christians from the region, according to a new study.

The research carried out by the Dar al-Kalima University in the occupied-West Bank town of Beit Jala, concluded that only small percentage of Christians had left Palestine because of concerns over Muslim religious conservatism.

Researchers interviewed more than a thousand people, roughly half of whom were Christian and half Muslim on their outlook on life and if negative, the causes of their pessimism.

“The pressure of Israeli occupation, ongoing constraints, discriminatory policies, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of lands added to the general sense of hopelessness among Palestinian Christians,” the study said.

These conditions have put Palestinian Christians in “a despairing situation where they an no longer perceive a future for their offspring or for themselves,” it added.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

Jewish and evangelical Americans are divided over plan to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

nikkiThe United Nations General Assembly isn’t alone in its lack of support for the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

On Thursday, the body overwhelmingly rejected the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The move is a rebuke of the administration’s decision that many have warned could undermine the peace negotiations Trump promised during his presidential campaign.

But some of the most vocal critics are closer to the issue.

Only 16 percent of Jewish Americans support moving the embassy to Jerusalem immediately, according to AJC’s 2017 Survey of American Jewish Opinion. Slightly more than a third — 36 percent — favor moving it “at a later date in conjunction with progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.” But a plurality — 44 percent — disagree with moving the embassy all together.

Nearly 170 Jewish studies scholars from American colleges and universities signed a statement expressing “dismay” at Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

“Jerusalem is of immense religious and thus emotional significance to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike. It is the focus of national aspirations for both Israelis and Palestinians. We hope one day to see a world in which all inhabitants of the land enjoy equal access to the city’s cultural and material resources. Today, unfortunately, that is not the case.

A declaration from the United States government that appears to endorse sole Jewish proprietorship over Jerusalem adds insult to ongoing injury and is practically guaranteed to fan the flames of violence. We therefore call on the U.S. government to take immediate steps to de-escalate the tensions resulting from the President’s declaration and to clarify Palestinians’ legitimate stake in the future of Jerusalem.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

 

Archaeologists expose Muslim-Jewish ‘dialogue’ in Jerusalem from 1,300 years ago

Seven-branched-Menorah-on-top-of-a-copper-vessel-fragment-1024x640Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave a scathing response Wednesday to United States President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel earlier that day.

Citing the city’s Muslim and Christian strongholds and historical ties, Abbas negated the Jewish state’s ancient claim on the capital, saying, “US President Trump’s decision tonight will not change the reality of the city of Jerusalem, nor will it give any legitimacy to Israel in this regard, because it is an Arab Christian and Muslim city, the capital of the eternal state of Palestine.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave a scathing response Wednesday to United States President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel earlier that day.

Citing the city’s Muslim and Christian strongholds and historical ties, Abbas negated the Jewish state’s ancient claim on the capital, saying, “US President Trump’s decision tonight will not change the reality of the city of Jerusalem, nor will it give any legitimacy to Israel in this regard, because it is an Arab Christian and Muslim city, the capital of the eternal state of Palestine.”

In remarks translated by Wafa, the Palestinian News & Info Agency, Abbas said, “Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Palestine, is bigger and more ancient for its Arabic identity to be altered with a measure or a decision. The identity of Jerusalem and its history will not be forged.”

Indeed, Jerusalem’s Muslim identity was forged alongside the dawn of Islam. However, according to a pair of Israeli archaeologists, that identity was originally one of coexistence and tolerance. They say they have the 1,300-year-old archaeological evidence to prove it, and now they want to share it with the Muslim world.

Jerusalem-based doctoral students in archaeology Assaf Avraham, 38, and Peretz Reuven, 48, launched a crowdfunding campaign Wednesday to gather funds to continue their work in exposing a lesser-known period of Jerusalem history which, they argue, saw Jews and Muslims conducting “an inter-religious dialogue.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 

Why Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel

US President Donald Trump called Jerusalem the capital of Israel on Wednesday and began the process moving his country’s embassy to the city.

The move sparked global condemnation from world leaders.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem at the end of the 1967 War with Syria, Egypt and Jordan; the western half of the holy city had been captured in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem effectively put the entire city under de facto Israeli control. Israeli jurisdiction and ownership of Jerusalem, however, is not recognised by the international community, including the United States.

The status of Jerusalem remains one of the main sticking points in efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA 

Trump’s Jerusalem Plan Is a Deadly Provocation

The decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital increases the odds of violence because it deepens Palestinian despair.

lead_960For Donald Trump, Muslim barbarism is a political strategy. It inspires the fear and hatred that binds him to his base. Muslim barbarism is so politically useful, in fact, that, when necessary, Trump creates it.

During the presidential campaign, he invented mobs of Jersey City Muslims who had celebrated 9/11. After the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, he invented a conspiracy in which “many, many people, Muslims living with them, in the same area” had been in on Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik’s plot. This February, he invented a terrorist attack in Sweden, which he blamed on the fact that Sweden “took in large numbers” of you-know-whos. Just last week, he invented a Muslim migrant’s attack on a crippled Dutch boy.

But on Wednesday, Trump outdid himself. By announcing that America recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he didn’t just invent Muslim violence. He provoked it.

The U.S. consulate in Jerusalem is warning Americans to avoid Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank. The State Department is warning of violence at U.S. embassies. The violence may not come right away. As Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann told my colleague Emma Green, it’s usually “the real or perceived threat to sacred space”—especially the Temple Mount, which contains the Al Aqsa mosque—that triggers immediate bloodshed.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC 

Religion Can Be the Bridge Linking Jews and Muslims

958081777Judaism and Islam are sister religions with many similarities. Nevertheless, the prevailing belief among members of both faiths is that an abyss separates them, and politically, they view one another as a threat.

Yet the overlaps between the religions, coupled with the positive attitudes toward religion in general on both sides, can be transformed into a bridge. Jewish familiarity with Islam and its principles and Muslim familiarity with Judaism, gained in the education system and other avenues, including interfaith dialogue, can build this bridge and turn these religions into a moderating, constructive forces in the ongoing conflict between their believers.

Sukkot, the holiday in which Judaism turns its gaze outward to members of other faiths, is an opportunity to set this as a goal for both Jews and Muslims.

After years of studying Torah and Jewish law in yeshiva, including getting my rabbinic ordination, I began studying and researching Islam. A fascinating world was revealed to me.

Islam, which in the view of the Israeli man on the street begins and ends with jihad, Mecca, Al-Aqsa and the muezzin’s calls, turned out to be a world with wide horizons, rich in wisdom and holiness.

Delving into Islam was an intense intellectual experience, but the most transformative part of my studies was realizing the similarity between Judaism and Islam. I discovered that the sources, sages, principles and details of Islam are astoundingly similar to those I learned in yeshiva – a reminder of human nature is ultimately the same the world over. This experience made me change my attitude toward Islam and its adherents.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HAAERTZ