Seek Peace and Pursue It: A Jewish Call to Muslim-Jewish Dialogue
The International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations responds to the first open letter from Muslims to Jews.
We write this letter with the hope that it reaches all those Jews and Muslims committed to the injunction “Seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalms 34:15) We recognize the great need in our time to allow religion to serve as an inroad between our communities rather than as a divisive wedge. We write this letter at a time in which many claim to speak on our behalves. Many of these voices speak from a stance of moderation, love of God and respect for the dignity of all people as did the recent “Call to Peace, Dialogue and Understanding between Muslims and Jews.” Unfortunately, others perpetrate the grossest forms of violence and stereo-typing in the name of religion. We write this letter to reach out and respond to the former, those who seek peace - and to repudiate the latter, those who preach hatred. As Jewish leaders we write this letter with the hope it reaches those with whom we might fulfill the words of the prophets “to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8) As such, we respectfully extend this message to our Muslim brothers and sisters accordingly.
We are fully aware that both of our religious communities have a robust tradition of varying interpretations of sacred text and religious principles, often yielding competing understandings. We call to dialogue all of those who affirm that our mandate as leaders is to guide our communities in accordance with values which benefit all of human society and the world at large.
There is now a dangerous and widespread misconception that an innate hostility exists between Judaism and Islam. We believe that this misconception leads to a travesty of the transcendent values of our respective heritages and a denial of the noblest periods of our mutual history. Judaism and Islam have historically shared much in common, and it is instructive for both of our religions to continue to explore how our respective religious understandings have evolved, often in relationship to one another.