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I support the normalization between Indonesia and Israel

"I think this would ultimately be good for Palestinians as well. Isolating Israel only compounds a situation of distress for them," said Rabbi David Rosen.

05 Januari 2021 22:30

Rabbi David Rosen, the International Director of Interreligious Affairs at the American Jewish Committee (AJC) will be a speaker in the incoming webinar about how to build a mutual understanding between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. This virtual discussion will be held on January 18, 2021, hosted by the Indonesia's Ministry for Religious Affairs in cooperation with Institut Leimena adn AJC.

He insisted Jews, Christians, and Muslims must teach the truth about one another, to know one another truly, and to be true and worthy members of the Abrahamic family and this is now happening in the Arab Muslim world, after decades of lies and defamation about Jews.

Therefore, he will support if Indonesia also joins in the normalization. "I think this would ultimately be good for Palestinians as well. Isolating Israel only compounds a situation of distress for them," said Rabbi David Rosen in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp yesterday.

He revealed that he visited Indonesia five times, include twice on the invitation by late President Abdurrahman Wahid aka Gus Dur.

Excerpts:

Why did the organizer contact you about that incoming webinar on Abrahamic religion?

This is the fourth Abrahamic webinar held at the initiative of the Leimena Institute, hosted by the Indobesian Ministry of Religious Affairs, and held in cooperation with AJC. As the AJC's International Director of Interreligious Affairs, I am the natural address as the Jewish contributor.

Are you surprised because this webinar will be conducted when there is on going normalization talks between Indonesia and Israel?

When we started this series, there were no such rumours. However I do hope that this series will change attitudes in Indonesia towards the Jewish religion, and perhaps also towards the Jewish state (understanding the link between the two, and that Muslims and Christians live full free lives in the Jewish state where full freedom of religion is guaranteed by law).

But do you understand Jews and Judaism is very sensitive issue in Indonesia?

Of course. Thanks in no small measure to decades of distorted destructive disinformation.

So what will you present on that webinar about how Indonesian muslims should have an understanding about Jews and Judaism?

Firstly, let me correct a mistake I made. This is the third (not fourth) webinar with the MRA, but I also taught courses through the Leimina Institute for Indonesian academics and scholars on Judaism, Contemporary Jewry, and on the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.

This webinar is focusing on education. Islam especially demands this. Sura Al Hujarat 49:13, litaarafu = to know one another.

Jews, Christians, and Muslims must teach the truth about one another, to know one another truly, and to be true and worthy members of the Abrahamic family. I hope to give examples of how this is now happening in the Arab Muslim world, after decades of lies and defamation about Jews.

I hope Indonesia will becone an example of this following the wonderful example of the late great Gus Dur.

But Indonesian muslims' anti-Jews sentiment always links with the issue of Palestine and for some believe that peace between muslims and Jews is the sign Judgment Day will come shortly?

Palestinians will not benefit from the deminization of Jews, on the contrary. We must work together for the benefit and welfare of the Palestinians who are the victims of many (especialy their own failed leadership). The Abraham Accords will ultimately serve the Palestinians as well.

As far as Judgement Day is concerned, I leave that up to Allah. But I am sure He delights in love and peace between all people, especially in the family of Ibrahim.

Do you have any prediction when Indonesia will establish a diplomatic relations with Israel?

I am not a politician and have no insider political information. However when it happens and Indonesians reap its benefits, many in Indonesia will wonder why it didn't happen sooner.

So do you support the normalization between Indonesia and Israel?

Of course, and as I indicated, I think this would ultimately be good for Palestinians as well. Isolating Israel only compounds a situation of distress for them.

In the meantime Israel is flourishing. Surely it is better for Indonesia to join with and influence, rather than be among those continuously failing to defeat and getting nowhere.

Have you been to Indonesia and meet with Jewish communities here?

I have been to Indonesia five times (twice at the invitation of Gus Dur) but have not met with a local Jewish community, though I do have contact with Rabbi Jacob Baruch in Manado.

When did you come on the invitation of Gus Dur?

I can't remember the exact dates, but the second time was when he was President. I was among four Jewish scholars, two from Israel.

Do you agree to amplify your messages for creating a mutual understanding between muslims and Jews, Indonesia needs a leader like Gus Dur?

It certainly helps but I am not sure it is absolutely essential.

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