Is the peace process as frozen as the weather?

by Ron Kronish

as published in the Times of Israel on the 14th of December.

It has been snowing in Jerusalem for the past 3 days. More snow has mounted up than I can remember in my 34 years of living in this city! It is quite amazing, and quite cold. Frigid and icy. Very dangerous. And practically nothing is moving. Life is at a standstill as we all stare out of our windows and gaze and the wonders and worries of Mother Nature.

Is this all a big metaphor for the so-called “Peace Process”? Is it too frozen? With no real movement! And isn’t it quite dangerous? After all, what is the alternative to the “Peace Process”? The “War Process”?  We are constantly being warned that the Third Intifada is coming if the diplomats do not reach an agreement.

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Welcoming the Other through Interreligious Dialogue, Education and Action

By Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish

Dr. Ron Kronish

Dr. Ron Kronish

November 21, 2013
Presented at the Peace Education Commission of Religions for Peace, at the World Assembly in Vienna

Read related article in the Huffington Post

Introduction

I am very pleased to be part of this distinguished panel on this important topic, which has been the essence of my professional life for the past 22 years. I founded the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel in 1991, and in all the years that I have served as Director, we have been an active member of Religions for Peace. I like the name and the mission of this organization. It says very clearly who we are and what we are for. By itself, it is an educational statement.

Unfortunately, in my part of the world, this idea is not too well understood. Too often, some religions have supported ongoing war and violence, rather than standing for peace. In contrast, I believe that the values and teachings of the great religions of the world must be harnessed to help their leaders and followers become active practitioners of peacebuilding and reconciliation.

One of the most central ways that we can welcome the other—each in our own country and region as well as internationally –is through Interreligious Dialogue, Education and Action.

Since we have done this successfully in Israel for a long time, I will share with you some of the insights and best practices of our work in the 10 minutes that have been allotted to me. To learn more, click “here” to get to our website, or go on Facebook and twitter to “like” us, and to “share” with others our insights from our blog posts—including our “stories of inspiration” series — and our best practices! (www.icci.org.il)

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“The Image of the Other – a New Paradigm”

By Ron Kronish

as published in the Huffington Post on 22.11.2013

I flew on Austrian Airlines to Vienna three days ago with Palestinians and Jews from Israel and Palestine who were invited by the new King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) On the airplane we were all talking about how remarkable it is that Jews and Palestinians had the opportunity to meet educators from all over the world, at the invitation of the government of Saudi Arabia. All of this in one of the most important cultural capitals in Europe, which only 70 years ago was under the control of German and Austrian Nazism, which wrought so much destruction and damage in Europe and the world.

So much has changed for the better in recent decades, but all too many people in the world are unfamiliar with these surprising educational and cultural developments, which is why I take the trouble to share these reflections on this blog.

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Christians from New York experience the complexities of Israel and Palestine with ICCI

by Andrew Luisi

Andrew Head Shot, StaffChrist Church, located in New York, is a congregation in the United Methodist denomination of Protestant Christianity that strives to experience God, connect with  others, and serve the world. Their mission is clear and forthright: they seek to love God before all things and their neighbors as themselves.
A group of congregants from the church came to Israel and Palestine for an intensive two-week study tour hosted by ICCI’s Center for Interreligious Encounter with Isreal, that analyzed relations between the monotheistic religions and viewed Christianity from a multicultural context.  On the last day of their program, they arrived at the ICCI for a lecture and discussion on “The Other Peace Process–Interreligious Dialogue, Education and Action in Israel-Palestine as a Form of Peace-building” by Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish, director of ICCI.
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“If I want to love my neighbor, I need to know my neighbor”

By Rachael Sauceda
(as part of our Stories of Inspiration series)

Yehuda Lapian is a 26 year old student attending Hadassah College in Jerusalem and is halfway through his B.A. degree in Political Science. Unlike most of his colleagues, Yehuda has participated in an ICCI program and has come to have a better understanding of “the other.”  Yehuda, who is Jewish, was born in America, but at the age of one moved to Israel and has lived in Jerusalem ever since. Growing up in a pluralistic household, his parents always taught him to “live and let live,” and that you have to remember there is pain on “the other side.”  It was with this pluralistic view of the conflict that gave Yehuda the courage and curiosity to learn more about his neighbors.

There were many moments in his childhood and adolescent years that could have drastically changed Yehuda’s outlook of his neighbor, especially growing up during a time when suicide bombings and terrorist attacks were frequent occurrences in Jerusalem. Often times, the conflict in the region taught him that Palestinians were the enemy, but his pluralistic views at home kept him grounded. However, as a teen he witnessed the aftermath of a suicide bombing in a local restaurant. Like most people after such a catastrophic event, Yehuda lacked the ability to find meaning in the situation and immediately grappled with the thought that whoever committed this act must really have hated the local community. This moment was both confusing and challenging.

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Jews and Muslims — Coexistence Is Possible, in America and in Israel

By Ron Kronish

as published in The Huffington Post on October 21, 2013

“For many years, I have been promoting the idea that Muslim-Jewish coexistence in Israel is possible. Indeed, I have argued that if we want to know our Muslim neighbors in Israel better, then we must not only engage them vis a vis their ethnic/national identity but that we must take their religious identity into account.

During my recent speaking tour to seven cities in the U.S., with the kadi (judge) of the Sharia Court of Jerusalem of the state of Israel , Kadi Iyad Zahalka, who is a Muslim citizen of Israel, I discovered over and over again that Muslims and Jews can and do coexist in America as well!

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On celebrating the iftar with Muslims and Jews in Israel

By Rabbi Ron Kronisch

published in the Huffington Post on July 27th, 2013

Untitled3Ara“Last week, my wife and I attended the annual iftar (Muslim break-the-fast) dinner at the residence of the American Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Dan Shapiro, in Herzliya Pituach, north of Tel Aviv, with Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious, cultural and educational leaders and activists involved in Arab-Jewish coexistence programs and peace education from all over Israel. It was a beautiful evening of friendship and fellowship in the wonderful garden of the ambassador’s residence, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. One could almost imagine that we could live in peace in the Middle East! Ambassador Shapiro greeted all the participants warmly and reminded us of the importance of fasting in our religious traditions when he said.

It gives us an opportunity to ask for forgiveness and to seek understanding. It gives us the opportunity to step into the shoes of those less fortunate than us, and, drawing inspiration from that experience, to practice acts of charity and goodwill.

Ramadan is an occasion for all of this and more for Muslims in Israel and throughout the world. What is particularly amazing is that not only are Muslims free to do this in the Jewish state of Israel, but they also are engaged in many programs of coexistence with their fellow Jewish citizens in Israel.

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“Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue “

By Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish

as published in the Huffington Post on 21/7/13safe_image

“One of the most central tenets of Judaism is to pursue justice . We are reminded of this over and over again in the Bible, especially in the book of Deuteronomy, which we Jews began reading in our synagogues in Israel and around the world in recent weeks, and in the prophetic readings from Isaiah, which we read as supplementary to our Torah text for the next seven weeks, and on the morning of Yom Kippur. Indeed, ours is a religion which emphasizes social justice, both in our foundational texts and in our liturgy.

It is for this reason that I was honored to participate in a unique seminar on “Justice and Society” with 25 judges, law professors, lawyers and educators, at the world-renowned Aspen Institute in scenic Aspen, Colorado this past week. It was an amazing experience, one of the intellectual and spiritual highlights of my adult life.

At the closing evening of the seminar, one of the participants referred to our group as a “beloved community.” Indeed, we bonded as a group — not only through our carefully and thoughtfully facilitated discussions, but also in our coffee breaks, our meals, our hiking together, and our strolls around the awe-inspiring grounds of the Aspen Meadows campus in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. This was an extraordinary group of caring and committed intellectuals and practitioners who genuinely and actively listened deeply to each other, but also spoke personally, professionally and passionately about fundamental issues involved with creating a just society which were clearly of central importance to all of us.

What is justice? Is the law always just? Is the law always moral? What happens when our morality dictates to our conscience to be civilly disobedient to an unjust law, as in the famous examples of Rev. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, or Mahatma Gandhi — some of the great reigious leaders of the twentieth century, who were motivated by deeply held religious views of justice, based on their sacred texts and moral world-view.

And, what about economic justice? About the cruel inequalities between rich and poor in so many Western liberal democracies? Why should the top one percent of American or Israeli society live in such affluence and abundance when there are so many disenfranchised poor people in these societies? What should be done to tax the rich more fairly so that distributive justice becomes a reality and not just a philosophical idea?”

 

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“Gestures of Peace from a Synagogue in Jerusalem”

“An interfaith meeting at the Kehillat Yedidya modern orthodox synagogue in Jerusalem gathered together young Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Rabbi Kronish and the apostolic nuncio in Israel, Mons. Lazzarotto, welcomed the participants.

“As many of you know, our here, especially in Jerusalem, we live separately. The Arabs do not have an occasion to meet the Israelis, and vice versa. We don’t have any real interaction in our daily lives.” This was voiced by Laura, a young Christian who lives in Jerusalem and studies at a Jewish university. Her words give prominence to the event held at the Kehillat Yedidya synagogue on the 30th April. The symposium entitled “Discovering the other’s humanity” was attended by youth from the 3 monotheistic religions. A good part of them belonged to the Youth for a United World, who were participating in the concluding event, “Be the Bridge”, of the Genfest.

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Learning To Respect One Another

by: Rachael Sauceda

On Tuesday April 9th, members of ICCI’s alumni community of young Palestinians and Jews for Peace Coexistence held a discussion with a group of about 20 American Jews from the Boston area, who were on a study tour with led by Rabbi Howard Berman, Executive Director of the Society for Classical Reform Judaism and rabbi of Central Reform Temple of Boston. This discussion gave the group, who were mainly from Boston and the surrounding area, a unique view as to what it is like for people living and growing up in a culturally diverse city like Jerusalem during a time of conflict. The young adult alumni, from various ICCI young adult dialogue programs, talked about their experiences, the obstacles they overcame, and how they learned to respect and listen to “the other.”

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