Holy sites, which lie at the heart of people’s identity and deepest attachments, have always been a lightning rod for conflict. Jerusalem’s shared holy sites, in particular, have been the trigger for the recent wave of violence to sweep across the region sparking heightened fears for their safety. There is a dire need to protect sacred places and engage with religious minority communities more inclusively and effectively in order to reduce interreligious tensions. Not doing so is likely to result in even greater violent conflict in the future.
This conference will reflect on the following questions:
1. What are the power dynamics of religious majority- minority relations in the Holy Land?
2. How can we build common ground between religious and civic values regarding sacred places?
3. How do we educate towards a greater respect for religious attachments to holy sites?
4. What role can religious and other leaders play to defuse interreligious tensions?
5. How can religious minority and majority communities be more effectively engaged in protecting holy sites?
The conference is taking place within the framework of a pilot being implemented in the Holy Land to gauge the practical effectiveness of a Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites. The Universal Code endeavours to safeguard holy places and promote interreligious reconciliation worldwide by demonstrating that dialogue between relevant religious and governmental bodies leading to common action is a significant tool for building relationships and reducing tensions around holy places.
The conference will provide simultaneous translation in Arabic, English and Hebrew.
9:30 am Registration
10:00 – 10:20am Welcome and Introduction
Sharon Rosen – Co-director, Search for Common Ground, Jerusalem
Dr Michael Borchard – Resident Representative, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Israel
H.E. Jon Hanssen-Bauer – Norwegian Ambassador to Israel
Reverend Kyoichi Sugino – Deputy Secretary General, Religions for Peace
10:20 am –11:20 pm Living in a multi-religious society – religious majority-minority relations in the Holy Land
Moderator: Rabba Tamar Elad Appelbaum, Rabba of Zion, Masorti community congregation, Jerusalem
Rabbi David Menachem – Rassco neighbourhood community rabbi, poet and musician
Sheikh Samir Assi – Imam, Al-Jazaar Mosque, Acre
Father David Neuhaus – Patriarchal vicar, Hebrew-speaking and migrant communities, Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem
11.20am-12.45pm Finding common ground between religious and civic values regarding holy sites
Moderator: Oded Wiener – Senior Advisor, Interfaith relations, Chief Rabbinate and Peres Center; former Director-General, Chief Rabbinate and Director-General, Holy Sites Authority
Ofer Zalzberg – Senior Analyst, Middle East and North Africa Program, International Crisis Group
Nadav Shragai – Senior research fellow, Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs; Journalist Israel Hayom
Salwa Alenalt – Adviser, Open University; PhD candidate, Middle East Department, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Qadi Iyad Zahalka – Judge, Sharia Court of Appeal, Jerusalem; Lecturer, Tel-Aviv University
Professor Aviad Hacohen – Dean, The Academic Center of Law and Science, head of the Center for the Study and Teaching of Jewish Law; Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem
12.45 –13.30pm Lunch
13.30 – 15.00 pm Challenges and Opportunities – Mt. Zion
Moderator: Eran Tzidkiyahu -Project manager, Window on Mount Zion, Search for Common Ground Jerusalem
Ami Metav – Researcher, the Unit for Development and Entrepreneurship East Jerusalem
Father Dr. Nikodemus C. Schnabel, Spokesperson, Dormition Abbey
Johnny Kassabri – Liaison Officer for Christian Communities & Affairs, David Police Sub-District,
Yisca Harani – Independent scholar and History of Christianity expert
Dr Hagai Agmon-Snir – Director, Jerusalem Inter-Cultural Center