President Shimon Peres meets interfaith delegation.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Leaders of all religions should speak out against the killing of innocent people, President Shimon Peres told representatives of a 43 member goodwill delegation of Argentinean Christian, Jewish and Muslim community leaders, business executives and politicians who visited him at his official residence on Sunday.
Killing of innocent people is against the Koran, against the Torah and against the New Testament, Peres said. “Today all religions have an enemy and that is terror, which is destroying countries in the Middle East,” Peres said, adding that 15 terrorists can kill 3,500 people in one fell swoop.
The representative group that was accompanied by Argentine Ambassador Carlos Faustino Garcia, was comprised of Prof. Omar Abboud of the Islamic Center of the Argentine Republic, Luis Grynwald, a businessman and former president of AMIA – the Argentine Jewish Community Center – Adalberto Rodriguez Giavarini, a former chief economist of the National Atomic Energy Commission and Claudio Epelman, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress.
Epelman told Peres that it was very important for the delegation to demonstrate that Jews, Muslims and Christians can co-exist in harmony and friendship.
He said something of a similar nature last week in Ramallah at a meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah who indicated to the group that he believed that peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis is possible.
The representatives of the delegation presented Hamdallah and Peres with a declaration of peace-oriented principles that they believe to be universally acceptable.
The group is set to meet with Jordanian parliamentarians before leaving the Middle East for Rome, where a festive reunion with Pope Francis at the Vatican is scheduled to take place.
Prior to his election to the papacy, the Pope then known as cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio archbishop of Buenos Aires, was in the forefront of interfaith dialogue, and actively promoted better relations and understanding between the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.
Peres, who visited the Pope last year, said that religious brotherhood is very important and demonstrates the fraternity of the Argentine people.
“If every other country with Muslim, Jewish and Christian populations followed your example to support peace, it would be of major significance, because peace is a unity message and has great influence,” he said. “We need peace among peoples, not just governments.”
Abboud, who presented Peres with the Declaration of Principles, said that the Interfaith Dialogue group had come together out of a mutual desire to prevent hatred of the other. “We feel that interfaith dialogue is essential to globalization because it is the human face of globalization.”
Giavarini emphasized that in-as-much as it is an interfaith group, its purpose also has political connotations.
During the visit, the Argentinean delegation had presented Peres with a traditional Argentine goblet, from which people of all three faiths drank, and CDs that Christian representative Giavarini said are “Yiddish tangos.”
In presenting Peres with the goblet, Grynwald made the point that everyone in Argentina drinks from it, irrespective of their religion. “Well... That makes it kosher,” said Peres.