In light of recent tensions between Turkey and Israel, few would expect to see two emissaries sent by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and several Israelis earnestly discussing the Quran, New Testament and Torah’s common references to peace and goodwill.
Yet that’s exactly what happened in Jerusalem when two Turkish representatives took part in 3FF Middle East’s Scriptural Reasoning workshop, together with Israeli Christians and Jews. 3FF M.E’s Director, Miriam Feldmann Kaye, facilitated the workshop at the Jerusalem Centre for Ethics’ annual interfaith conference held on September 14.
The Scriptural Reasoning method, which uses religious texts as a foundation for discussing ethical, social and political questions, was developed by 3FF and Cambridge University’s Inter-faith Programme (CIP). It is now used in Israeli hospitals and universities to encourage engagement and understanding between different communities.
“Members of the Knesset from the Israeli Ministry of Interior and prominent Orthodox Rabbi Yuval Cherlow invited the Turkish faith ambassadors to our conference. They brought messages of goodwill from President Erdogan, and wanted to speak about a commentary on the Qur’an, highlighting how it preaches peace. We then engaged in a discussion – in which communal leaders from the three faiths were included – on the benefits of Scriptural Reasoning taking place between Israelis and Turks.”
Prince El Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan sent his encouragement via video link. The conference was attended by several prominent religious and communal leaders, including Baha’i, Druze, Muslim, Christian and Jewish representatives.
Representatives of numerous interfaith organisations and charities worked to ensure the conference was a success, and facilitated discussions in small groups. It was the third annual interfaith tolerance conference made possible by Polish philanthropist Alexander Gudzovaty, the Jerusalem Foundation and Mishkenot Shaananim.
The event was widely covered in the Israeli press.
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