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The visit was important for relations between Islam and Judaism

In the context of Israel and Jews, Indonesia is a victim of false propaganda and misrepresentation.

05 Februari 2020 20:01

Two weeks ago, it was a historic visit to the Auschwitz camp. A muslim delegation led by the Secretary General of the Muslim World League Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Karim al-Isa on January 24, visited a former Nazi camp which had become a place for the massacre of 1.1 million Jews during the Second World War.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Isa, a former Saudi Arabian justice minister, urged muslim world to learn about Holocaust, to realize that tragedy was a fact and also one of the darkest history.

"Relations between Islam and Judaism have been close in the past. The two religions are the most similar to each other," said Rabbi David Rosen, the International Director of Interreligious Affairs at AJC

The visit was arranged by the American Jewish Committe (AJC). This moment marked the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Auschwitz camp by the Red Army of the Soviet Union.

"Relations between Islam and Judaism have been close in the past. The two religions are the most similar to each other," said Rabbi David Rosen, the International Director of Interreligious Affairs at AJC, in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp today. "In recent times they have been poisoned by politics. This has led to misrepresentations, falsehoods, and lack of empathy."

Excerpts:

Are you happy with the visit of a muslim delegation to Auschwitz camp two weeks ago?

Very grateful to Allah for it . It was very important

Why that visit was so important? And important for whom?

Relations between Islam and Judaism have been close in the past. The two religions are the most similar to each other. In recent times they have been poisoned by politics. This has led to misrepresentations, falsehoods, and lack of empathy.

Hostility towards Jews and Judaism has become commonplace in the Muslim world. This has led to Antisemitism and Holocaust denial. As bad as this is for Jews, it is much worse for Muslims, as it makes them appear ignorant and lacking in compassion. That does enormous damage to the good name of Islam.

Therefore highest level Muslim leaders showing humanitarian solidarity with Jewish suffering, confirming the historical facts, condemning the sins of antisemitism and Holocaust denial, calling for Muslim-Jewish reconciliation, is enormously important for Islam, Muslims, Jews, and the promotion of peace.

How could AJC convince the Secretary General of MWL Sheikh Muhammad al-Isa to come?

We did not need to. He wanted to do this himself. We simply facilitated it.

Why did he want to go there? Did he get a permission from Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman for the visit?

He wanted to go there because he understands what I have stated above. It was for the good name of Islam and Muslims. I believe it would have been impossible for him to have done this without the green light from King Salman (and presumably MbS as well).

By leading a muslim delegation to Auschwitz, do you think this is another signal of the warm relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel?

Perhaps, though Al-Isa insisted that the visit had nothing to do with it.

Is there any cleric from Indonesia in that delegation?

I don't think so. Please note that Al-Isa invited the Muslim delegation, we did not have any influence over who he invited. The closest to Indonesia in the delegation was Mohamnad Marzuki Omar from Malaysia, Secretary General of the Islamic Dawwah Council of South East Asia and the Pacific.

Is it true a cleric from Libanon, Sheikh Ali Muhammad al-Husaini, got dead threats because of his participation?

Yes it is true. These kind of threats are what give Islam such a bad name in the West.

Does he seek for asylum?

He wishes to have nationality/citizenship in another country.

Which country?

I think he is open to possibilities, but currently he is in France.

Does AJC help him for that matter?

We are not in a position to obtain this for him, but we are happy to support such an application from him.

How about a member of delegation from Malaysia, does he get such threat?

You mean did others get threats? I don't know. However there were many extremist condemnations and extreme criticisms of Al-Isa and the delegation as a whole.

I mean a cleric from Malaysia?

I don't know.

Regarding a warm relationship between Israel and Arab muslim countries, particularly Saudi, UAE, Bahrain, and Oman, how do you see about that?

I think it is good and mutually advantageous, but it will be limited if there is no progress in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What do you expect from Indonesia as the largest muslim country in the world?

To take a lead and not wait for other Muslim countries to "go first". It should establish formal ties with both the Palestine and Israel and I would be delighted if it woukd use its unique position and history to broker a peace accord between the children of Abraham living in the Holy Land.

In the context of Israel and Jews, do you think Indonesia is an intolerant country?

Not inherently but it is a victim of false propaganda and misrepresentation.

Do you know there are many Jewish descendants in Indonesia?

 Of course.

What AJC has done to support them?

I do not know of any requests to AJC for support. But AJC is not involved in maintaining Jewish communities. Adresses for such would be the Jewish Agency or the Joint Distribution Committee.

Menachem Klein, professor in political sciences at Bar Ilan University, Israel, poses with the background of the image of  Al-Aqsa in Borobudur Hotel, Jakarta, December 15, 2015. (Faisal Assegaf/Albalad.co)

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