IN THE MEDIA
AIJAC welcomes the deepening of Jewish-Muslim engagement in Australia
Apr 26, 2023 | J-wire NewsDesk
J-wire – 25 April 2023
Jeremy Jones, Director of International and of Community Affairs of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, has participated in five iftars during Ramadan this year, including a keynote address to a gathering of NSW South East Asian Muslims– as part of his commitment to improving inter-community relations.
Iftar is the breaking of the fast evening meal for Muslims during Ramadan.
Jeremy Jones said he would have accepted more invitations, but he had to decline at least six additional ones due to Pesach and Shabbat.
He said: “This is about building bridges, educating each other and fostering friendships.
Each iftar provided wonderful opportunities – which I took – to talk about Judaism and Jewish concerns with people from a variety of religious backgrounds, who included parliamentarians, religious leaders, human rights workers and community activists.”
At the Iftar hosted by the Foundation for Islamic Studies and Information (FISI), I was a keynote speaker for an audience of hundreds of Muslims, predominately of South-East Asian background, where I spoke about the need to break down stereotypes and work together, and received an overwhelmingly positive response.
At some of the larger Iftars, hosted by Church and Government organisations, it was good to see rabbis and representatives of Jewish communal organisations, as there were many people with whom to meet and renew friendships”, he said.
At the Iftars hosted by new NSW Premier Chris Minns and by the Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long, I had the opportunity to congratulate in person a number of re-elected and newly-elected State MPs as well as seeing friends from many parts of our diverse, multicultural city, and at the Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher’s event, I re-connected with spiritual and civil leaders of a number of religious communities.
The FISI event provided opportunities to speak with leaders in interfaith dialogue, community builders and diplomats, as well as the core group of Islamic scholars, while the fifth Iftar, organised by the Affinity Organisation, took the form of a round-table discussion-come-debate on racism, antisemitism, multiculturalism and very much more.
He added: “The generosity of the hosts of the iftars was wonderful, and my kosher food led to interesting conversations about Jewish texts, teachings and traditions.
The hosts of the Iftars I was unable to attend due to Jewish religious commitments were all understanding – and said that next year their iftars will hopefully avoid the calendar clash.”
During the month in which the iftars were held, Mr Jones also attended a major Catholic event and was in contact with many in his multi-religious network.
“Jewish Australians live in a land abounding in opportunities to learn from and to educate people of many faiths and backgrounds”.
We lead the world in interfaith dialogue and from here can be the engine room for changes in attitudes to Jews in a variety of religious traditions”, he added.
In past years Mr Jones has been a keynote speaker at Iftars and post-Ramadan events in Sydney, Jerusalem, Tirana, Skopje and Jakarta.