|AJC's Rabbi Rosen Urges UN Members to Block Extremism by Boosting Responsible Religious Voices|
February 7, 2012 – New York – AJC’s Rabbi David Rosen urged the UN General Assembly today to protect the quest for Arab-Israeli peace from extremists' assaults by giving more power to "religiously responsible voices."
"If we don't want religion to be 'part of the problem,' the answer cannot be to ignore it, as political leaders seeking a solution to the conflict have often done in the past," said Rosen, AJC's International Director of Interreligious Affairs. Rosen was one of the internationally recognized religious leaders addressing World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN.
"On the contrary, such an approach encourages extremist elements to take center stage and just weakens the most responsible religious voices. If one does not want religion to be 'part of the problem,' then one must empower the religiously responsible voices and ensure that 'religion is part of the solution' advancing a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect," Rosen said.
Last month, the top Muslim cleric in Jerusalem, Mufti Mohammed Hussein, created public outrage when he cited a hadith claiming that the Earth's end of days will not happen until Muslims kill Jews. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered an investigation.
As a counterbalance to religious incitement, and an example of interfaith cooperation, Rosen mentioned the peacemaking work of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land. The agency comprises the Ministry of Waqf/Religious Affairs of the Palestinian Authority and its sharia courts, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and the Patriarchates and Bishoprics of the Holy Land.
AJC helps facilitate the work of the council, which was established after the then-Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar convened a meeting in Alexandria in 2002, "bringing religious leaders of the main three Abrahamic faiths from the Holy land together for the first time in history," Rosen said.
World Interfaith Harmony Week was proposed in September, 2010 by King Abdullah of Jordan, and was proclaimed by a UN General Assembly resolution a month later as a response to "the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people."