November 25, 2010
Scholars at one of the world's oldest universities, Cairo's al-Azhar, have opened the way to starting a dialogue with Jews.
This lack of dialogue, instigated by al-Azhar it must be acknowledged, has been nothing short of scandalous.
But, as Rabbi Marc Schneier, a vice-president of the World Jewish Congress and advocate for improved relations between Jews and Muslims, said during a keynote address at the House of Lords event on Tuesday:
“This is a landmark decision, and Al-Azhar deserves praise for it. Coming from the leading center of Islamic thinking in the world, it will be enormously helpful for all moderate forces within Islam. This declaration rightly emphasizes the importance of interfaith relations. Leaders from both sides should now seize the opportunity and take Jewish-Muslim relations to the next level. Both communities have a lot more in common, and more to give to the other side, than many people think.”
The event came a day after BBC's Panorama revealed the disgraceful of antisemitism and homophobia in Saudi-sponsored "weekend" schools in Britain.
But Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel A. al-Jubeir told Schneier he was embarrassed by this issue and that it did not represent his country in 2010.
The spokesman for [the grand mufti of the UK and alumnus of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Prof. Mohamed] Elsharkawy also condemned the [antisemitism]. He said he hoped Tuesday’s announcement would pave the way for better ties between Jews and Muslims.
“The way that we’ve framed it, it’s a bit like dating,” the spokesman said of the declaration.
“We have texted the Jewish world, and we’re waiting for rabbis in Europe and the US to respond. Out of that response we are hoping that there might emerge regular, stable dialogue on the highest level.”