Israel and its supporters are using interfaith alliances to divide communities and reshape perceptions regarding Israel’s colonial and apartheid practices, a seminar in London heard on Thursday.
The event titled ‘Faithwashing: How Interfaith Groups Are Being Used to Normalise Israeli Apartheid‘ at P21 Gallery, highlighted how “that interfaith dialogue and organising is not something negative, but rather that interfaith cooperation must be fundamentally based on respect and humanist principles and not spearheaded or led by those who support or contribute to Israel’s colonial practices.”
Israel and pro-Israel groups have long sought to push the notion that the reality on the ground in Israel-Palestine is a religious issue as opposed to a political one, event chair Batool Subeiti explained. This is centred on the fundamental belief, according to Subeiti, that if you do not support ethnic cleansing, you are against a peoples’ religious rights. This turns the victims into perpetrators and the perpetrators into victims, she added.
Speaking at the event MEMO Director Dr. Daud Abdullah explained that at the heart of ‘faithwashing’ is the “idea that Jewish-Muslim rivalry is something endemic, something deeply rooted, that cannot be erased and a reality that we have to live with.”
He continued: “This is not true and contrary to the historical facts.” Abdullah cites Muslim rule in Europe as a key example whereby Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities lived amicably together.
Following on from Abdullah’s presentation, Rifat Kassis spoke about the topic from the perspective of Palestinian Christians. Here, Kassis noted that
“There is definitely a need for interfaith cooperation to defuse tensions, especially what is happening in Palestine now,” General Coordinator of Kairos Palestine, Rifat Odeh Kassis, added. “There is a difference between interfaith dialogue and normalisation,’ he added, and ‘there is a big difference between being on the side of justice and the side of oppression.” Kassis added that interfaith dialogue should accept Palestinian resistance to Israel’s colonial practices and that such resistance should not be criminalised.
The event was organised by the Palestinian Forum in Britain in cooperation with EuroPal Forum.
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