Rabbi David Rosen audio: The Middle East Conflict – Is religion part of the problem or the solution?
Rabbi David Rosen gave an excellent public seminar last night at the Victoria University Council Chambers.
The you can download or listen to the audio:
- The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (which comprised leaders from all of the major religions in Israel and Palestine) met in 2002 and agreed that Violence in the name of religion is a desecration of religion. This fact is little reported. Why then is religion exploited as a tool to incite violence?
- Religion forms an important part of many people’s identity. Particularity, or defining one’s self to be part of a separate group is good, so long as it does not lead to denigration, demonisation, or ultimately dehumanisation of the other. Ideally we would be able to celebrate these differences.
- When people are feeling insecure or threatened, this particularity can lead to withdrawal, and this is when extremists can exploit religion as a tool of violence. Therefore, while religion is part of the problem, it must also be part of the solution.
- The Israel/Arab and Israel/Palestine struggle is essentially a territorial conflict, and has been until recently treated as such by all Middle East leaders. It is only recently that the religious dimension has started to play a part.
- The Oslo Accords ignored the religious dimension, and thus disenfranchised moderate voices. If you don’t have moderate voices in the debate, then extremest voices will be only too willing to fill the vacuum.
- Now that the religious dimension is in play, any political initiative will succeed only if it takes the religious dimension seriously.
The session was moderated by Professor Paul Morris, Chair of the Religious Studies department, and chaired by His Most Reverend John Dew, the Archbishop of Wellington. Rev Jenny Chalmers, the Christian Co-Chair of the Wellington Council of Christians and Jews gave a vote of thanks at the end.
You might also be interested in Rabbi Rosen’s interview on Nine to Noon this morning: