28 December 2011
World Jewish Congress (WJC) Vice President Rabbi Marc Schneier has been received for talks in the Gulf state of Bahrain by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Schneier, who has pioneered Muslim-Jewish dialogue and cooperation, was received Wednesday by the Bahraini monarch at his palace in Manama. At his 45-minute audience, the WJC vice president warmly welcomed King Hamad’s suggestion to host a gathering of Jewish and Muslim clerics in Bahrain in 2012 and said: “Bahrain is a role model in the Arab world for coexistence and tolerance of different faith communities, including a small Jewish community. I am deeply honored to be the first rabbi to be hosted by the King of Bahrain at his palace, and I am excited that he and his government are fully committed to building bridges between our two communities.”
Schneier added that Bahrain was the first of the Persian Gulf states to host an exclusive bilateral dialogue between Islamic and Jewish leaders. He declared: “King Hamad said that there was nothing more natural than for our two communities to come together, despite our difference in opinion on certain issues. He said that as ‘cousins’ Jews and Muslims had an obligation to build bridges.”
The two men also discussed the current situation in the Middle East. Schneier said King Hamad had told him about the reforms he had implemented in Bahrain in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’, including representatives of the opposition. “I believe Bahrain could serve as a model for other countries in the region. I am looking forward to working with King Hamad and his government to bring our two communities closer together.” Schneier also met separately with the Bahraini ministers of justice and Islamic affairs, Khaled Bin Ali Bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, and of industry and commerce, Hassan Fakhro.
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Do you think a political solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians will be achieved in the coming years?
Yes, it will be resolved provided Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, gives up all its settlements in the West Bank and allows the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Yes, it can be resolved if the US and Europe apply strong political pressure on both sides and if bold compromises are made.
No, this conflict is too entrenched and both sides are unable to make real concessions.
No, Islamist terrorism and the attacks on Israel will continue because the Arabs will never accept a Jewish state in the Middle East.
There will only be a political solution when there is better economic cooperation in the Middle East, thus helping the Palestinians improve their livelihood.
I don’t know.