May 12, 2022 — Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
A historic gathering of faith leaders from across religious traditions took place this week in Saudi Arabia, and included 12 rabbis, among them Rabbi David Rosen, American Jewish Committee’s Director of International Interreligious Relations.
The event, hosted by the Muslim World League in Riyadh, marks the first time Saudi Arabia has held a multifaith gathering, which included leadership from the Catholic Church, Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate, Evangelical Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, as well as religious leaders from other countries across the Muslim world.
“We are witnessing a transformation of Muslim-Jewish relations across the globe,” said Rosen, who has decades of experience forging interfaith relations and was the only rabbi in attendance from Israel. “It is encouraging and exciting to see the Muslim World League and Saudi Arabia exercise leadership to promote cooperation among the faith communities of the world. The work of forging a multifaith alliance against extremism and hatred of all kinds, including antisemitism, must include traditional religious voices along with more liberal expressions. Every country and faith community has a role to play.”
The event addressed the theme “Promoting Common Values Among the Followers of Religions,” and was dedicated to charting tangible ways to promote interreligious cooperation and solidarity as a response to conflict and tensions between faith communities.
In recent years, AJC has developed a formal partnership with the Muslim World League and its Secretary General, Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa. In 2019, AJC CEO David Harris and Dr. Al-Issa signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote Muslim-Jewish relations and take on ventures to combat racism, hatred, and extremism in all its expressions. The MOU was followed by a historic joint mission to Auschwitz and Warsaw in January 2020, attended by Muslim and Jewish leaders from 28 countries to commemorate Holocaust victims.
The mission, held just days before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp, also honored the endurance of Jewish life. In June 2020, Dr. Al-Issa spoke at AJC’s Global Forum about the need for Muslims and Jews to work together to combat antisemitism and Islamophobia.
For decades, AJC has been a global leader in developing Muslim-Jewish relations, including through regular programs with leaders across the Middle East and North Africa. AJC earlier this year opened the Sidney Lerner Center for Arab-Jewish Understanding in Abu Dhabi to build closer ties between Arabs and Jews, enrich Jewish life across the Middle East, and increase understanding of Israel in the Arab world.
AJC has also built an online community of nearly 800,000 Arabic speakers through @AJCArabic platforms. Its Arabic language video series on Jews and Judaism, ‘An Al-Yahud,’ has garnered over 25 million views.