Religious leaders pledge to increase understanding among groups

Muslim, Christian, Druze and Jewish religious leaders visited Poland together.

November 3, 2016 17:43
2 minute read.
The Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel on an official visit to Poland to honor the vic

The Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel on an official visit to Poland to honor the victims of the holocaust and express the importance of preventing such atrocities. . (photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)

The Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel, comprised of the heads of the Muslim, Christian, Druse and Jewish communities in the country, have conducted an official visit to Poland to honor the victims of the Holocaust and express the importance of preventing such atrocities.

The council includes the Chief Rabbis of Israel, Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau, along with Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa; Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III; Sheikh Muhammad Kiwan, head of the Union of Imams in Israel; Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, head of the Druse community; Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Nourhan Manougian; and Archbishop Suhei Duwani, head of the Anglican Church in Israel.

The chief rabbis were not present on the visit, but were represented by Rabbi David Rosen, a member of the council’s steering committee, former chief rabbinate director and steering committee member Oded Weiner and current director Moshe Dagan.

During the visit to Poland, which began on Sunday and ended on Wednesday, the council met with Polish religious leaders and visited Jewish heritage sites, the Warsaw Ghetto monument and the Auschwitz- Birkenau death camp, where they engaged in dialogue with their Polish counterparts.

“The purpose of this visit is to honor the memory of millions of Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, and to express the determination of the religious community leaders in Israel to do everything in their power to prevent the recurrence of such atrocities,” said the council. “We call on all world leaders to act with unwavering resoluteness, in their countries and through the United Nations, against antisemitism and hatred of the other, which have risen once again to plague contemporary society.”

The council said that, as religious leaders, they committed to cooperating “in the Holy Land” to fulfill this same mission, and to strengthen understanding among the various religious communities.

“We must educate our communities and children to respect the feelings and beliefs of others, and in so doing, increase peace and mutual respect among members of religions throughout the world,” the council said Speaking during the visit, Pizzaballa called on “all Christian churches in the Holy Land to fight against any expression of antisemitism and racism.”

He also spoke about the ongoing war in the region, saying that “what is happening in Syria and Iraq requires our intervention and for us to cry out.”

Tarif said that the establishment of the State of Israel was “the eternal answer to the Holocaust, and we must protect it,” while Kiwan called on “all leaders to grant rights to all people.”

Manougian emphasized the need to remember not only the Holocaust, but also the Armenian genocide, “the closest thing in history to the Jewish Holocaust,” as he described it, and called on Israeli leaders to recognize the Armenian genocide.

Between 1915 and 1923, some 1.5 million Armenians were murdered by Ottoman Empire killing squads, death marches into the desert and other means.

The Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel was established in 2007 as a result of a joint initiative of the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry and leaders of all the major religions in Israel Upon its establishment, all the members agreed on a joint declaration of commitment to the sanctity of human life and to denounce all types of violence against innocent people, especially when such acts of violence are perpetrated in the name of religion.

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