Judaism and Islam: their wonderful living together before and beyond Zionism

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi – for ProMosaik e.V. – published Prof. Rabkin’s article about the perspectives of the Muslim Other in the Jewish tradition. The conclusion of the article is a very positive one: Judaism and Islam have always had a very good relationship in history, before the arrival of Zionist ideology and before the foundation of the colonialist state of Israel.

Milena Rampoldi thinks that the consideration of this wonderful living together in history in Muslim countries – which were much more tolerant than the Christian world – can be a very productive starting point to start living together again today, without and beyond Zionism, in a land where both can live  together in peace and respect of their identities.

Zionism is a nationalist and colonialist ideology opposed to Judaic ethics, and to the Judaic perception of the Muslim other as monotheist brother.

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: ProMosaik e.V. is convinced that the emphasis on positive relations between Islam and Judaism in history can help us today to find peace and justice beyond Zionism. What do you think about that?

Prof. Yakov M Rabkin: It is precisely the reason why I wrote my article. I am well aware that massive propaganda efforts are directed towards falsification in order to “prove” that the current animosity between many Jews and many Muslims is rooted in history and theology. Little by little people of good will, including historians, are providing solid materials showing centuries-old rather friendly coexistence.

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: Which strategies did Zionism use to separate Muslims and Jews?

Prof. Yakov M Rabkin: In fact, these strategies are quite recent. Zionism is a secular, even anti-religious political movement. However, in the last two decades a new trend developed, aiming at undermining any hope of coexistence between Jews and Muslims.  These strategies succeed but remain suspect in many countries, such as Canada, South Africa, the USA, where this coexistence is an obvious fact.

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: Which problems of discrimination against Israeli Arabs prevail in Israel today?

Prof. Yakov M Rabkin: They face discrimination in education, employment and, of course, real political rights. This practice has faced opposition from the Supreme Court but it seemed to subside. The court cannot remain aloof from the dominant societal mood that has moved steadily to the right.

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: ProMosaik e.V. does not consider the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a religious one, but a neo-imperialist conflict. But anyway I believe that there can be an interreligious solution to the problem. How optimistic or pessimistic are you?

Prof. Yakov M Rabkin: There are religious Muslims and Jews that have striven to reach peace. The late rabbi Froman and sheikh Yassin of Hamas, assassinated by Israeli forces, tried – in vain – to influence the dominant political forces. Such efforts must continue, and strictly religious Jews opposed to Zionism have not lost hope.

Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: Your article is essential to understand Jewish views about Muslims. What are the most important aspects you would explain to somebody who has not read of this issue already?

Prof. Yakov M Rabkin: Judaism has traditionally viewed Islam as a religion unto itself, in terms of both practices and values.


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