NEW YORK -- As part of its 16th Plenary Assembly, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) partnered with the Muslim World League (MWL) for a joint Muslim and Jewish celebration of Ramadan. The convening, featuring the MWL Secretary General, H.E. Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder and over 100 senior Jewish and Muslim community leaders from around the world, demonstrated a shared dedication to global interfaith collaboration and the cultivation of good relations between Muslim and Jewish faith communities.
Lauder opened by citing Psalm 133: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony.”
He reflected on the significance of building interfaith relations, stating, “Relationships between communities, especially communities of faith, are sadly not always easy to foster and maintain. In fact, we all know that there has been strife among different faiths throughout history. But when we make efforts to come together, to work together and to acknowledge the differences in our faiths we begin the process that builds trust among people. None of this can be taken for granted. We must constantly work at this.”
Lauder expressed hope for continued shared efforts alongside the MWL to together “improve coexistence in our world” and increase dialogue. “The campaign against racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Christian attacks will be infinitely more effective if it is united. Christians should lead the defense of Jews and Muslims. Muslims should lead the defense of Christians and Jews. Jews should lead the defense of Muslims and Christians. And we must all stand together against racism.
“History shows us that Jews and Muslims can live together as brothers, achieving great things together. History also shows us that we can take a more negative path. We hold that choice in our hands. And we here today send out a powerful, unified message to the entire world that we strongly choose the path of brotherhood, the path of peace and the path to a better world for us all and, especially, a better world for our children.”
Echoing Lauder’s emphasis on interfaith dialogue and cooperation, Al-Issa noted that religion should be used as a tool to promote peace and unity rather than division: “We know that religion has always been used as an excuse for conflict, or that religions have been used to serve political purposes. I would like to say that this is against the essence of religion because religion promotes peace. I would like to stress that this friendly meeting is an opportunity to promote our common values, our human values.” He shared, “We should live together and build a dialogue, an efficient dialogue -- not just a passing dialogue or just to please each other, but an efficient dialogue, a fruitful one, where love and respect prevails.”
The overarching message of interfaith dialogue was also shared by several WJC delegates in attendance, who had the opportunity to deliver delegate interventions during the event. In closing remarks, WJC Treasurer Chella Safra turned to the need for good leadership in the joint pursuit of a strong Muslim-Jewish partnership: “With the right incentives, politics become a highway for peace. It is a matter of leadership. It all adds up to institutions and the people willing to make the right decisions.” Mrs. Safra, who was born and raised in Lebanon, concluded her remarks in Arabic.
The event was moderated by WJC Commissioner for Interfaith Relations Claudio Epelman.
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