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Role of religion in the Israel/Palestinian peace process - a panel discussion

MPT went to a discussion among local experts on what impact religion can make towards peace.

Dr. Mohammed Dajani represented the Muslim faith. He is a Jerusalem born scholar and peace activist. Dr. Dajani said Palestinians are disappointed in both Fatah and Hamas political parties. He suggested that Old Jerusalem have a non-political status not related to a country but a shared spiritual area. Palestine's capitol could be East of the Old City and Israel's capitol could be west of the Old City. His vision for peace is articulated at www.wasatia.info

Rev,Fr. David Neuhaus is a Jewish convert to Catholocism at the age of 26. He leads the Hebrew speaking Catholic Vicariate in Israel. Fr. Neuhaus said since 2% of population in Israel /Palestine are Christians,they have little influence. His opening statement called for 1) being self-critical not self-righteous,2) to be humble in relating to Jews and Muslims 3) to remember that God is the one that knows and has the answers. He doubted that religion could have much of an impact on the current political situation. More detail of his opinions can be found at http://religiousstudies.bethlehem.edu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=43&Itemid=27

Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish represented a Jewish perspective. He is founder and director of The Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel. He has lived in Israel for 31 years. He commented that if Christians had sway that there would have been peace long ago. Rabbi Kronish says he is very much in the minority in Israel since he is not on the extreme Zionist right in politics. He has been working with programs that bring Israelis and Muslims together in dialogue. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joshua-stanton/hardnosed-dialogue-in-the_b_739625.html

There were areas of agreement among the three men. All agreed that religion as politics is a bad idea. All emphasized that each religion needs to teach how much in common the three have with each other. Dr Dajani regretted that extremists can take a passage of the Qur'an out of context and teach a narrow understanding as the Word of God. The panel agreed that each religion needs to teach their faithful the layers of meaning in their Holy books as a way of changing hearts and minds to be able to live in peace.

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