This year again, I had the beautiful opportunity to welcome my esteemed guests during our traditional A9 TV Iftar (fast-breaking) banquet held at the Cıragan Palace Ballroom in Istanbul where we celebrated our bonds of peace and unity.
Our traditional Iftar banquet – in addition to the delicious food served – stands out for its mission to bring together a vast variety of people from different religions, cultures, ethnicities and ideologies. Once again, this year’s Iftar event was a special occasion to strengthen unity and solidarity among participants from different religions, sects and views in addition numerous artists, politicians, religious leaders, academics, diplomats and media members with distinct views and backgrounds.
Held on the evening of June 8, 2017, and with around 750 people in attendance, the Iftar banquet was once again home to many esteemed guests from Turkey and abroad. The exclusive occasion was honored by my guests, Jewish and Christian clergymen from Israel, France and the US. Similarly, esteemed members of the Turkish Assyrian Society, the Armenian community, the Greek Orthodox Society and the Catholic Church. Many ministers, parliament members and politicians from various parties on either side of the political divide, foreign consul-generals and diplomats serving in Turkey and professors, esteemed members of the business world, distinguished figures from the Masonic community and many celebrities also attended.
A beautiful gesture that made our banquet even more special was the video message sent to me by the Knesset member Rabbi Yehuda Glick in celebration of Ramadan. My dear and esteemed friend Rabbi Glick began his message with the following kind words: “My dear friend, honorary Mr. Adnan Oktar, champion of religious tolerance, champion of love to all human beings, champion of God in the world” and continued, “we shall see [each other] on the Temple Mount, that House of Prayer, that unite all nations to One and Only God. From Jerusalem, allow me to wish you all Ramadan Kareem, from Jerusalem, the city of peace, city of shalom.”
Indeed, the Temple Mount will bring all nations together under the light of peace. As my good friend Yehuda Glick pointed out, by the grace of God, when that beautiful time of peace comes to the world we will come together with the good people of the world at the Temple Mount.
During the day of the Iftar banquet, the Israeli delegation made a visit to the Jewish Museum of Turkey at the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul.
Additionally, they enjoyed the beauty of Bosphorus on a boat trip.
Anglican priest Todd William Kissam from the US and retired chief justice of the Supreme Rabbinical Court of Israel Rabbi Abraham Sherman, the director of Alsadiqin Institute Rabbi Abrahamson, outreach personality and writer Rabbi Jeffrey Seidel and international spokesperson for the Jewish community of Hebron Rabbi Yishai Fleisher also graced the banquet with their presence as my special guests.
Prior to the Iftar meal, Pastor Kissam was a guest on my live broadcast on A9 TV where he mentioned our shared love for God and how the sincerity, wisdom and love that he witnessed during his interactions with us deeply affected him. Rabbi Sherman was also a guest on my live program and said that God orders us not to hate and not to be selfish and that peace is an order of God in our holy books.
Rabbi Seidel, who attended the live show before the Iftar event along with the other rabbis, told me that his students insisted he go to Turkey to give a message of unity: “It happened for the Jews in Israel.
But for us, this miracle is happening every day. We may not realize it, but I am very thankful to be here.
In the 50th year of Israel, I want to remind you that we are living this miracle again.” Our conversation followed with my quoting from the Koran and the Torah to explain the Jews’ right to live in the Promised Land of Israel.
Following the banquet, Rabbi Fleisher joined my live conversation and reflected on his pleasure at being there by saying, “I think that by you bringing us here today to Istanbul, you are part of that vision of connecting the peoples of the Middle East.”
Natasha Kirtchuk, the leading anchorwoman of ILT V, attended the A9 live show after the Iftar dinner.
Expressing her awe at the diverse, distinctive, harmonious and loving atmosphere of the banquet, Kirtchuk said that it was a great privilege and an extraordinary occurrence that a rabbi, a priest and an imam were sharing a table and getting along quite well. She said that this way people’s minds could change and that the tradition of these very important meetings should be maintained in the future as well.
I told her that inviting priests, rabbis and imams to share a table is a tradition dating back to our Prophet Muhammad, and that people with a fanatic mindset naturally take a step back when they see this picture.
When she asked me how Israel-Turkey relations would be in the future, I replied that the alliance of these two countries would get stronger, as this is what must be done and what is necessary.
Kirtchuk was wondering how the misconceptions about Jews and Israel held by certain groups around the world could be dispelled. I explained to her that it was possible through persistent efforts and inculcation.
When Natasha asked me, “What does it feel like to hold a Iftar banquet where you host guests from all around the world?,” I told her that the love in the hearts of our guests at the Iftar was visible on their faces, that the atmosphere was truly wonderful and it was a joy to see the love on people’s faces. It was because the universe was created for love.
I hope that this banquet and many similar other events will bring people one step closer to peace and help them believe in the possibility of unity and solidarity.
My efforts to dispel the misperceptions and hatred from the world will continue. I will also continue to create and encourage such occasions where people from all around the world regardless of their backgrounds and faith can meet and get to know one another. By the grace of God, the alliance of the good will soon make the world a peaceful abode for all.