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Choosing a Path to Peace

24 August 2009

Israel's interfaith dialogures inspire Victoria's Jewish Community.

During the week of 17th August 2009, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) had the pleasure of co-hosting a number of speaking events for a mixed faith delegation from the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel.

“There are some in the Jewish and other communities who deny the value of interfaith work. They argue that views are entrenched and cannot be changed”, JCCV president John Searle said today. “However those who had the privilege of hearing the experiences of Dr Deborah Weissman, Mr Issa Jaber and Ms Rula Shubeita came away with a profound understanding of the importance of engagement.

It was inspiring for audiences to hear that Jews, Muslims and Christians in Israel can sit down together, talk and even confront one another without rancour in a country torn by religious tensions. None of the speakers pretended such activities are simple or easy; there are prejudices to overcome and unpleasant personal experiences to put aside. But once that crucial first step of making a commitment to dialogue is taken, anything is possible. And, as Mr Jaber said, when the alternative is endless conflict, is there really any other choice?”

Searle continued, “Hearing these courageous and dedicated people reinforced my belief that the JCCV is on the right track locally. We are now participating in dialogues with smaller communities such as the Baha’is, Hindus and Buddhists as well as the Christian denominations and Muslims. We are also very near to completion of guidelines for the conduct of dialogue, which will allow users to take a more strategic and nuanced approach to engagement. In an open and welcoming society such as Australia, building bridges with others similarly acting in good faith is really the only way to go.”

Please address any queries to Geoffrey Zygier at 03 9272 5579

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