RELIGIOUS LEADERS meet with President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem yesterday..
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
After having voiced his objections to the controversial muezzin law, President Reuven Rivlin sought to bridge gaps between Muslim and Jewish spiritual leaders by bringing them together at his official residence on Tuesday to see if there was a way around the conflict.
Rivlin told his guests he hoped the meeting would impact on the general public and that a common voice coming from the meeting would set the tone for public opinion. Rivnlin has already stated that the proposed law would be detrimental to democracy and would indicate that democracy in Israel is only for Jews, There was consensus at the meeting that there must be more frequent and intensive dialogue between the representatives of both faiths.
A joint call for increased dialogue, coming from the highest ranking Jewish and Muslim spiritual leadership might obviate the need to pass the muezzin legislation, suggested Rabbi Arye Stern, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Jerusalem.
Sheikh Abdel al-Hakim Samara, president of the Islamic Shari’a Court, concurred emphasizing that only through discourse and agreement can solutions be reached in those areas where the loudspeakers are problematic.
He explained that if the law is passed without any prior attempt to quietly resolve the issue, it will cause the Muslim population to feel that its freedoms are under threat.
Acre Chief Rabbi Yosef Yashar said that in his city, where Jews and Arabs have coexisted for decades, dialogue has proven itself. It doesn’t always lead to solutions, he acknowledged, “but at least we are talking to each other.”
Sheikh Mohammed Ciooan, who heads the Committee of Imams, which has a membership of approximately 400, stressed that human dignity should be a paramount consideration, and should be the guideline in all discussions.
“We will look out for each other,” he said. “We are connected to each other and we have no choice.” His organization has already made a public request for the volume of the loudspeakers to be reduced in all the communities concerned, he said.
This is not the first time Rivlin has called for an interfaith meeting. In April he convened a meeting of Druse, Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant, and Jewish and Muslim leaders to reduce tensions and violence in the area of the Temple Mount during the Passover-Easter period.