interfaith relations

In Jerusalem’s Mamilla cemetery, Rawan Dajani stands before a mausoleum where her ancestor Sheikh Ahmed Dajani was buried nearly 450 years ago.

By Omar Kasrawi

Standing outside a mausoleum in Jerusalem’s Mamilla cemetery, Rawan Dajani bows her head and cups her hands upward in prayer for her ancestor Sheikh Ahmed Dajani. He was buried in Mamilla, the oldest Muslim burial ground in Jerusalem, nearly half a millennium ago.

About 200 meters away, a fenced-off construction zone marks the future site of the Center for Human Dignity – Museum of Tolerance, a project overseen by the California-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

In Israel, starting a new project inevitably means bumping into history. In this case, the construction that started in 2004 has stirred Muslim anger as it displaces hundreds of Muslim graves dating as far back as the 7th century, including the remains of soldiers and officials of the Muslim ruler Saladin.…

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Folks, many of you may have seen this, but we have friends in the world who cannot directly access the Jerusalem Post piece. So here it is. Lauren is an amazing interviewer. She interviewed me for nine hours, longest interview of my life:

The lonely man of peace

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By LAUREN GELFOND FELDINGER

21/01/2010

This week, Orthodox American rabbi Marc Gopin saw his coexistence work in Syria bear fruit. What turns a Soloveitchik disciple into an unofficial diplomat to the Arab…Somewhere between the shtetls of Eastern Europe and sites across the Levant, Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin, 52, has found his calling.

Heading the George Mason University Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution in Arlington, Virginia, he is not waiting for a peace treaty to cause change. Gopin gets on a plane and heads for trouble spots wherever he can find openings. He meets with sheikhs, heads of state …

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Stories of cooperation and affection have been suppressed by two groups, those whose interests lay in weaponizing religion for nationalist purposes, and enlightenment liberals who wanted to establish society on a secular basis jettisoning the usefulness of clerics as weavers of civil society. But the fact is that along with the harm done by benighted clerics and hierarchies there were also moments of beauty in history that have yet to be extensively documented.

This story below is typical of many today that suggest a new era of global civil society has arrived when Jews and Muslims team up to help Christians on Christmas. But it is not as new as some might imagine. Tales of cooperation, mutual study and reverence, abound in anecdotes passed down from history that our age of militancy has tended to suppress. For a variety of reasons most of us around the globe are trying to …

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Peace Education and Fort Hood

by mgopin on November 15, 2009 · 6 comments

By Cheryl Duckworth, PhD

Could peace education have done anything to prevent the shooting at Fort Hood?

Could peace education have done anything to prevent the shooting at Fort Hood?

Can peace education help to prevent the violent loss of life, such as we all witnessed recently at Ft. Hood? I believe that it is an essential piece of the puzzle. People offer various explanations regarding why a soldier murdered fellow soldiers. Some are pointing to Maj. Hassan’s Islamic identity or possible extremist views. Others point to his impending deployment to Iraq or sense of humiliation and social isolation. Since we know that very few behaviors are motivated by just one cause, I think it’s likely that all of these dynamics interacted.

Why do I think that peace education could have prevented such a violent act? At its core, peace education nurtures two vital skills, which are problem solving and relationship-building. Peace education also challenges stereotypes and resists the easy, pat explanation for …

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After 40 Years of Wilderness, J Street Meets at the River’s Edge: Pro-Peace, Pro-Israel
By Rabbi Arthur Waskow

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Tonight and for the next few days, in Washington DC, 1200 people are gathering in the name of a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” US policy. Because of my broken leg, I can’t be physically there. But my mind and spirit and 40 years of my work are there today.

Forty years ago, in the summer of 1969, I visited Israel for the first time. On the same trip, guided by a brilliant Israeli kibbutznik-sociologist, Dan Leon, I also visited Palestinian leaders in Hebron, East Jerusalem, and Gaza — old-fashioned notables, social workers, lawyers.

To a person, they told me they had marched and spoken out against occupation by Jordan or Egypt, and would oppose occupation by Israel. They said they had no objection to Israel as it had been before the 1967 war.

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By Mallory Huggins

On Speaking of Faith, a weekly public radio program, Krista Tippett focuses on “religion, meaning, ethics, and ideas.” This week, she talked with two women who illustrate the power of interfaith collaboration. Here’s an excerpt from the blog post about the women:

The Power of Listening and Engaging with the “Other”
By Krista Tippett

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Malka and Aziza work with emerging leaders from different spheres of life and from both of their traditions. They make a core commitment “not to be enemies.” And that, of course, is the kind of lofty statement that can be hard to put into practice against the backdrop of reality. The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the dynamics of the post-9/11 world, the rise of Iran as a regional power — these are just a few of the developments that infuse and shape relationships between Jews and Muslims everywhere.

To read the whole article, …

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Recent Book Talk in Toronto

by mgopin on October 14, 2009 · 2 comments

I had a wonderful experience  recently in Toronto. This is a photo of my book talk at Indigo Books, where I spoke on my recently published To Make the Earth Whole: the Art of Citizen Diplomacy. I had been invited up by the Mosaic Institute to speak on a panel on the state of Middle East peace, together with Fawaz Gerges and Bessma Momani. The event was terrific, but the book talk was also fun because Hind brought so many of her good friends in Toronto, and we were able to celebrate with friends our work together in Syria.

hind marc

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It’s time to nominate a peacemaker!

by mgopin on October 13, 2009 · 4 comments

By Mallory Huggins

From the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding:

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Dear Friends,

PeacemakersInAction.org is ready to receive your nomination for the next Peacemakers in Action andWomen’s Peace Initiative awardees.

Visit Tanenbaum’s new website and learn how to identify and honor religiously motivated peacemakers risking their lives in zones of armed conflict. Nominations accepted through November 30th!

Remember:

The Peacemakers in Action Award honors a man or woman motivated by religion to work for peace in an armed conflict – anywhere in the world.

The Women’s Peace Initiative Award honors a woman from Middle East-North Africa motivated by religion to work for peace in her region.

The Peacemakers in Action program supports religious peacemakers with the following benefits:

1. Increased public recognition for their efforts and achievements

2. $15,000 to reinforce their work

3. Expert training

4. An in-depth case study on their religious peacemaking work

5. The opportunity to help

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Unusual Pairs: Virtual Film Festival TODAY!

by mgopin on September 24, 2009 · 0 comments

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By Mallory Huggins

Peace X Peace, an organization that “connects women across the world for the purpose of dialogue, understanding, and collaboration,” will premiere a segment of Unusual Pairs, a documentary featuring Marc and other Middle East Peacemakers. The documentary will premiere online today, Thursday, September 24, at 6 p.m. Eastern time. Watch on your computer and stay for the panel discussion afterwards for commentary from Marc and producer David Vyorst. This virtual film festival is free, but registration is required. You can register here. We hope you can join us!…

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‘Jews who sell to Arabs are enemies’

by mgopin on September 13, 2009 · 11 comments

‘Jews who sell to Arabs are enemies’
By Matthew Wagner

A Jew who sells land to an Arab in Israel should not be allowed to lead prayers in synagogue, should not be given the right to make a blessing during the Torah reading, should not be counted among the quorum needed for public prayers and is considered an abettor to the enemies of Israel, according to a halachic decision issued on Monday night by a group of rabbis calling themselves “The New Sanhedrin.”

What astonishes are the last lines of this piece:

Eliyahu said that in his own city of Safed, a Jew who sold to an Arab was boycotted by the community. “He owned a grocery store and people boycotted it.”

Halacha forbids the sale of land in Israel owned by Jews to non-Jews. However, there is nothing in Jewish law that prevents someone who does so from

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