nazareth church 298.88.
(photo credit: Associated Press [file])
One day after the tragic killing of two baby brothers in Nazareth, a leading Suffi Sheikh from the same town, who has been heavily involved in interfaith dialogue for two decades, equated the dispossession of Palestinians from their land in 1948 with the Holocaust.
Sheikh Abdel Salam Manasra, Secretary General of the High Suffi Council in the Holy Land, also equated Zionism with idolatry.
"Just as it says in the Bible that there were Jews who worshipped Ba'al [a type of ancient idolatry] so too there are Jews today who are Zionists," said Manasra.
"You are not a Jew as you should be if you [support] Zionism," he added. "Zionism is a bad thing."
Manasra rejected the idea that Israel was a Jewish state or a homeland for the Jews.
"After the Europeans brought a Holocaust on the Jews, you Jews came here and brought a Holocaust on us," said Manasra. "None of the Europeans responsible for the Holocaust paid the price. Instead, I paid the price because I lost my land."
Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish, Director of the Inter Religious Coordinating Council in Israel, who has participated in numerous interfaith dialogues with Manasra over the years, said the comments were very surprising.
"If this is indeed that is what he said about the Holocaust and Zionism, I think those are very poor, unhelpful comparison. I have known Sheikh Manasra as a man of peace and dialogue. I urge him to rethink his comments if indeed he said them.
"I am sensitive to the pain caused by the Naqba [Israeli victory against the Arabs] but it is not to be compared to the Holocaust."
When Manasra discovered that The Jerusalem Post reporter interviewing him lived in a settlement beyond the Green Line he said, "You live on conquered land. Come live in Haifa, Ashdod or Tel Aviv.
"Besides, most of you are there because you love money," said Manasra. "A lot of you settlers are not even Jewish. They are Russians who oppose Judaism. I see them come to the Church in Nazareth."
Manasra was quick to condemn Israeli violence in Lebanon, but only after repeated questioning by The Post was Manasra willing to criticize the Hizbullah's bombing.
"But I do not want that statement against the Hizbullah to be placed prominently in your article," said Manasra to The Post.
He said that the relationship Sunni Arabs like himself had with the Shi'ite Hizbullah was "similar to the relation Jews had to the Black Hebrews in Dimona".
Manasra said he has been involved in interfaith dialogue since 1987. He said that as a Suffi Sunni with more moderate views than other Sunni orders, he has suffered financially.
"The Saudis are opposed to the Suffis," said Manasra. "It's not easy to be a promoter of peace."