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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger called on Sunday for the establishment of "a religious United Nations" representing the religious leaders of all the countries in the world. Metzger suggested establishing the religious UN in Jerusalem and placing the Dalai Lama at its head.
Metzger raised the idea during a meeting that includedd himself and the Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Muslim leaders, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nobel Prize-winning peace activist and leader of the exiled Tibetan people.
"Religious leaders will get the opportunity to meet one another and discover that they have more in common than they may have realized," he continued.
The meeting, organized by Rabbi Menahem Fruman of the Samarian settlement Tekoa who supports negotiations with the Hamas, came just hours after Palestinians, including Hamas representatives, cancelled a meeting with the Dalai Lama that was to take place in Bethlehem.
According to a spokesman for Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People, Palestinians said the timing for the meeting was bad. They did not elaborate.
Alluding to the cancellation, Rabbi Metzger told a story that made the Dalai Lama smile.
"Once there was a hassidic rebbe who wanted to instill in his followers the importance of giving to the poor before Passover," said Metzger.
"He sent out a messenger to spread the message.
"When the messenger returned he said to the rebbe, 'I was 50% successful.'
"'What do you mean?' asked the rebbe.
"'The poor agreed to accept.'
"The situation is the same here in Israel. Fifty percent of us are open to your message of peace. We are waiting for the other 50% to accept."
Kadi Muhamed Zibde, a judge on Jerusalem's State Sha'aria Court told The Jerusalem Post ahead of the meeting that he hoped to present to the Dalai Lama and to the chief rabbis "a more sane version of Islam."
"Peace is the principle wish of Islam," said Zibde, who said the common denominators in different religions could be used to cultivate fruitful dialogue.
"All monotheistic religions believe there is inherent holiness in human life. Nonviolence is a value."
The Dalai Lama said religious leaders had a special responsibility to change the situation.
"Any noble work is bound to have obstacles," said the Dalai Lama. "We need determination to pursue justice and truth."
Fruman said dialogue based on mutual religious respect could help Israel receive from the Hamas recognition of Israel's right to existence, the honoring of past agreements and at least a temporary halt to terrorism.
"The Zionist secular state of Israel is considered an evil knife of blasphemy by Hamas leaders," said Fruman.
"But if you send the Chief rabbis to speak with the Hamas in religious language I believe we can get them to recognize a Jewish entity of some kind."
Parallels are often made between the Tibetan people's exile in 1959 and the Jews' exile from the land of Israel. Dharamsala, the Indian city that has become the Tibetan's spiritual center, has been likened to Yavneh after the destruction of the Temple.
The Dalai Lama, a self-proclamed admirer of the Jewish people, has met in the past with Jewish rabbis and spiritual leaders to learn more about Judaism and more specifically how to survive in exile.
One of these meetings was depicted in The Jew in the Lotus, by Rodger Kamenetz. Much in common was found between Jewish Kabbala and Buddhist Tantric mediations.