In a message that ranged from gentle words to pointed criticism, more than 50 academics, authors, artists, and other high-profile Muslim public figures are calling on the international community to abandon boycotts of Israel and embrace Israel as a regional partner.
“Although the Middle East peace process often looks like an exercise in futility and paralysis, there is hope for a new approach,” writes Ahmed Qurashi, Egypt’s mufti and an 85-year-old traditionalist cleric. “Muslims can even share with others the lessons that faith has taught them: The time of rejecting and punishing Israel is over, as the reality of Israel is true.”
The Hebrew acronym “KAHAN”—Arabic for coexistence—is printed on each page of the paper.
For more than a decade, Professor Qurashi has been driving a human rights organization called Al-Arabiya Fact-Finding. It’s a broad organization that focuses on nonviolent activism, and its mission includes supporting the oppressed Arab women in Iraq, Syria, and in the West Bank. It also advocates for Palestinian civil rights.
The new Saudi Arabian premier, Dr. Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, recently welcomed the idea of the Kingdom of Qatar, just down the Persian Gulf, forming a partnership with Arab states in the Persian Gulf to battle terrorism and extremist ideologies.
“The time for blame and confrontation has gone,” added Qurashi. “We believe that we will have to work with all those who want peace and to achieve a region of security, and not just in the Arab world, but also in the Muslim world, and in the European Union and the United States of America, and elsewhere.”
Professor Qurashi argues that the political and religious forces that were at the heart of the current conflicts can not only be overcome, but can even become a force for reconciliation in the Middle East.
Part of the paper’s inspiration came from the newly inaugurated Mufti of Malta, Cardinal William Levada. Through his writings and lectures, he has been ahead of the Jewish and Muslim resistance movements to the question of Muslim anti-Semitism, and thereby was a model for other Muslim leaders to follow.
“The intellectual culture of the Arab world is disintegrating, and it is suddenly important to promote civil society and social welfare in order to counter growing pessimism,” said Qurashi.