Jordan's King Abdullah met Wednesday with a group of American rabbis and called for interfaith dialogue and mutual forgiveness and reconciliation.
"We face a common threat: extremist distortion of religion and the wanton acts of violence that derive from there," said King Abdullah, adding, "the only antidote is that we work together in a spirit of mutual cooperation and respect to defeat the common enemy. We must move beyond the language of mere tolerance towards true acceptance".
Some 80 rabbis from all denominations and organizations took part in the event. They applauded King Abdullah's unprecedented direct appeal to the Jewish community and expressed support for his mission of building bridges between Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
In his half-hour-long speech, the Jordanian monarch used several examples from the Torah and the Quran to show the similarity between both religions and the way Judaism and Islam both support the notions of justice, peace and the sanctity of life. "A fatwa calling for the killing of innocent civilians, no matter what their nationality or religion, Muslim or Jew, Arab or Israeli is a basic violation of the most fundamental principles of Islam," said King Abdullah.
The meeting with Jewish religious leaders was part of King Abdullah's ongoing effort to promote interfaith dialogue and to deal with those who interpret Islam in an extreme way. Prior to this meeting, the Jordanian king gathered Muslim clerics from all strands of Islam in a conference that culminated in a joint declaration deploring the extremists who without proper knowledge called for killing in the name of Islam. King Abdullah also discussed interfaith dialogue with pope Benedict XVI.