An interdenominational delegation from Israel will meet with a prominent Muslim
preacher in Istanbul on Wednesday to discuss ways to enhance understanding
between the faiths.
A rabbi, a Catholic priest, a Druse kadi and a Beduin
sheikh will spend three days with Adnan Oktar, known also as Harun Yahya, a
philosopher and theologian with a large following in the Muslim
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Such encounters have taken place for a few years now, but this
will be the second time the delegation will be headed by Ayoub Kara, Deputy
Minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee. Kara has advocated the
improvement of ties between Jerusalem and Ankara as a vital need for
The group will also meet with Mufti of Istanbul
Prof. Mustafa Cagrici.
“We are trying, along with people of faith,
to create a situation of dialogue, and resistance to extreme Islam and terror,”
Mendi Safadi, Kara’s chief of staff, said earlier this week.
sidelines of the interfaith discussions, Kara will meet with a member of the
Syrian opposition, to present him with a list of Jewish holy sites in Syria.
Safadi would not disclose the name of the Syrian politician.
are overturned, he said, there is a risk of Jewish sites being looted and
plundered. “This is a request that the Jewish sites be safeguarded by what might
become the new regime in Syria,” Safadi said.
One of the delegates, Rabbi
Yeshayahu Hollander of Petah Tikva, is an associate justice on the Jerusalem
Rabbinic Court for Issues of Non-Jews. Hollander is active in interfaith
relations, specifically with Muslims and Christians.
between Adnan Oktar and Hollander, who is a member of the nascent Sanhedrin,
began over three years ago when Oktar’s people asked the rabbi to come to Turkey
to meet and talk. Hollander, who accepted the invitation, described Oktar as “a
man of religion, a philosopher who tries to make the world a better place.”
Oktar has an extremely influential television program, broadcasted daily and
viewed by millions.
This is Hollander’s seventh visit to Turkey for
interfaith dialogue. “If people like Oktar’s broadcast, I will definitely
dedicate the time to them to encourage them,” he said, noting that Oktar speaks
well of Israel and believes it should belong to the Jewish
Hollander was far from being sure that this encounter would set
off a change in the attitude of the Muslim world toward the Jews.
not optimistic, but can't give up on the chance,” he said. “With the [Muslim]
Arabs there is not much leeway, since they have [political] interests at hand,
and I don't expect a breakthrough from them in the initial stage. But here is an
opportunity to reach understandings with them through non-Arab
If we succeed, there is a chance that [the message of moderate
Islam will reach Muslims] in Europe and America, most of whom are emigrants in
search of a better life, who do not want to appear to their surroundings as an
aggressive group that came to usurp their lands.”
“If non-Arab Muslims
are able to show the Europeans that the [extreme Islamic movements] Salafis and
Wahabis are practically inventions that developed in the 20th century,” and do
not represent Islam as a whole, “there will be a possibility for peace in Europe
as well. And if the non- Arab Muslim world makes the strategic decision to live
at peace with the Jews, that will undoubtedly influence the Arabs. Especially
since the Koran endorses such an option,” Hollander said.
Beduin delegate Sheikh Atef al-Krenawi, such a meeting is important not only
from the perspective of inter-religious dialogue, but also as an opportunity to
show the Turkish regime and entire world that Israel is a peace-seeking entity
that treats all its citizens well.
As an Israeli citizen, Krenawi feels
that it’s his duty to take part in a dialogue that could promote good ties with
the Muslim world and promote peace. “This initiative should come from Arab
Israelis, who should be encouraged to volunteer for their state. Our religion
instructs us to strive for proximity with the Jews,” he said.
noted that Jews are mentioned in the Koran as cousins.
“If only moderate
Islam would influence the Arab world,” he said. “People from around the Middle
East quietly tell me they are envious of life in Israel. But after the [current]
revolutions, moderation will prosper. Once true democracy exists, we will
begin hearing good news.
“Religious leaders – who have influence over
their followers – must lead such dialogue for peace and for the people,” Krenawi
While the current state of interfaith relations was not necessarily
encouraging, Krenawi said he believed in such efforts and was raising his hands
“We must continue to reach out our hand,” he
said. “Eventually, a hand will be extended back.”
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