(photo credit: Husam Hijazi)
Nearly 600 people of a plethora of religions convened in Acre on Monday evening
for a festive Iftar meal, marking the end of that day’s Ramadan fast and paying
tribute to the country’s Muslim citizens.
In the fifth annual banquet of
its kind, the Abraham Fund Initiatives joined forces with the Acre Municipality
to bring together public and religious leaders, businessmen, diplomats and
politicians to mark another year of their activities and strengthen Jewish- Arab
Ramadan, which began on August 11, is marked with fasting
during the daylight hours, prayers and Iftar meals, and one of the most
significant events for a fifth of Israelis. Only a minority of the Jewish public
is aware of the Arab population’s holidays, co-directors of the Abraham Fund
Initiatives Mohammad Darawshe and Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu said.
of this event is to legitimize the non-Jewish holidays, including Muslim ones,
within Israeli society; to promote an acquaintance and respect of the traditions
and holidays of the Muslim populace in Israel,” Be’eri- Sulitzeanu
“This symbolic event completes the picture of our ongoing
policymaking efforts,” Be’eri-Sulitzeanu said. “This is one day in the year to
open our hearts and our eyes to the Arab minority in Israel, as well as the
story of the Jewish-Arab relationship here. If there is no understanding, the
alienation between the groups will grow, and we will never see amalgamation and
South African Ambassador Ismail Coovadia told The
that as a Muslim, he was excited to attend this Iftar meal and
meet the varied people attending it.
Acre Chief Rabbi Yehuda Yashar,
Archbishop of Acre, Haifa, Nazareth and Galilee for the Melkite Greek-Catholic
Church Elias Chacour and Acre Imam Sheikh Samir Assi all spoke passionately in
turn about the common denominators their creeds contain.
“It’s not a
command to live together, rather a great privilege,” Chacour
Minority Affairs Minister Avishai Braverman told the Post
“this event is not only to show respect for our Muslim friends here, but also to
send out a blessing to Muslims nationwide and around the world.
Jews, now is the time for Selichot [penitential prayers], for Muslims – Ramadan.
This is an opportunity to open our hearts and promote a two-state solution,
while providing full civil equality to the Arab citizens of Israel,” he said of
the upcoming renewal of peace talks with the Palestinian
Braverman also noted the groundbreaking allocation of NIS 300
million to promote higher education among Arabs and Druse, which is set to
increase their numbers in universities and colleges by 9,000 over six years and
help them stay in school until they get their degrees.
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and
Prof.Manuel Trachtenberg, chairman of the Council of Higher Education’s
Committee for Planning and Budgeting, for the move.
About a third of
Acre’s nearly 50,000 residents are non-Jews. On Yom Kippur 2008,
between Muslims and Jews broke out there.
“There will always be
extremists, from both sides,” Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri said of the riots
his address. “If we don’t get the better of our differences, hate will
better of us.”