A Tale of Two Encounters Jews, Muslims Dialogue to Counter D.C. Protests

June 13, 2007

Author: Richard Greenberg

Source: Washington Jewish Week


As pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups staged competing rallies on Capitol Hill Sunday, a collection of Jews and Muslims ‹ some no doubt with equally disparate views on the Middle East impasse ‹ had a close encounter of a different kind in Potomac.

About 100 of them assembled at a palatial home to find common ground in hopes of diffusing tensions arising from the nearly simultaneous confrontation in Washington over Israel's occupation of disputed land in the West Bank. The more long-lasting goal of the Potomac session was to foster mutual understanding between Jews and Muslims and to establish support for moderation over religious extremism.

"On this day, it's important to have a dialogue," said event co-organizer Steven Roy Goodman, co-chair of the American Jewish Committee's intergroup relations committee. "We have respect for each other, but we don't always agree."

Sunday's session was co-sponsored by the Maryland Muslim Council, which has partnered with the AJCommittee for the past three years on symposiums such as this one, community service projects and cultural exchanges.

How best to improve cross-cultural relations and blunt religious extremism?

"We must see the humanity that exists among all people," said Alex Kronemer, one of two featured speakers. A writer, lecturer and documentary producer of films promoting interfaith diversity, Kronemer was raised as a Jew and later converted to Islam.