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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
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The Diplomacy of Rabbis (in Turkey and Beyond)


From left: Mr. Adnan Oktar, The Chief Rabbi of Geneva Rav Dr. Izhak Dayan, Dr. Mordechai Kedar

From left: Mr. Adnan Oktar, The Chief Rabbi of Geneva Rav Dr. Izhak Dayan, Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Just as is true for us, many Muslims form their religious world according to their own spiritual values, according to their education and according to their cultural worldview that has been crystallized in the course of their adult life. There are among them many who are willing to accept the “Other” as he is, even if he is a Jew, Israeli and even Zionist. The courageous among them will show this. Those who are even bolder will support and fund activities intended to strengthen the standing and the regional strength of the State of Israel, but the most courageous will not try to hide their support for Israel from the media or from the public in their country.

Oktar is the most prominent example of such courageous persons, and these days, when few Muslims are willing to identify withIsrael, Oktar’s activity of people and State of Israel must be praised.

SUPRISINGLY, it seems that Muslims who are faithful to Islam feel more comfortable with traditional Jews, who share their faith in God, and it may be that the arduous and laborious path of Israel into the heart of the Muslim world that surrounds it may be paved by rabbis, with their beards, their skull-caps and long black coats. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs need not enlist as cadets the men who warm the benches of the Porat Yosef or Panevezys yeshivas, but nevertheless, it seems the appropriate people to conduct a discourse with Muslims are those who are faithful to their religion and tradition and not the cultural disciples of Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin or Alon Liel.

The path to our neighbors’ hearts, both those who are more and those who are less sympathetic, is ultimately paved with personal contact. The delegation toTurkey proved, at least to me, that it is important forIsrael to be represented in a way that will make it easier for our traditional neighbors to accept us: that the state of Israel is not entirely secular and liberal.

We have among us enough traditional people, who, because of the respect that our neighbors have for tradition, can manage the contacts betweenIsraeland its neighbors so as not to generate cultural aversion. While it is important that they speak the languages of the area – Arabic, Turkish and Persian – and undergo professional diplomatic training, it will be easier for them to come to diplomatic achievements with our Muslim and traditional neighbors, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office should take this into consideration.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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