The relationship between Jews and Muslims in Germany is sometimes not so easy: if, for example, the conflict in the Middle East boils over as it did in May 2021, it can also lead to tension and open aggression in this country. Specifically, synagogues were attacked in several cities at that time. Jews are threatened by Muslims. On the one hand. On the other hand, there are longstanding strong friendships, well-functioning working relationships and various networks.
Dialogue One of them is Shalom Aleikum. The project of the Central Jewish Council in Germany sees itself as a forum for dialogue between Jews and Muslims. In mid-September, it was announced that it had been turned into a “think tank”.
The goal is to explore “socially and politically important topics that are discussed from a Jewish and Muslim perspective.” Events, books, blog posts and position papers are planned.
Committed individuals, research institutions and experts must be involved to stimulate debate, for example at the policy level. The initiators also see in it the strengthening of democracy and social cohesion.
One of the first actions of the new panel of experts is to launch a new book, Flight and Engagement. Jewish and Muslim Perspectives” December 7. “Flights have been a major issue since at least 2015. – as well as people’s commitment,” says Dmitrijus Belkin, head of the expert group.
December 7 the panel of experts will present the new book “Flight and Engagement”. Jewish and Muslim Perspectives’.
He already led Shalom Aleikum when it was still a dialogue project. Belkin lists that there have been more than 30 events, five books and a digital exhibition. For example, Muslim and Jewish businessmen, people in the catering industry and doctors gave their opinion: “We created a very good network on both sides.”
As you continue to develop into an expert group, this experience should be used to analyze experiences and changes.
financial support Shalom Aleikum received financial support from the Federal Government’s Commissioner for Integration, first Annette Widmann-Mauz (CDU), now Reem Alabali-Radovan (SPD). “We are very hopeful that we will continue to be promoted,” says Belkin. Ten people currently work in the expert group.
When it was founded in September, Alabali-Radovan said the institution brought together Jewish, Muslim and, in addition, Christian perspectives. “It strengthens our commonality and respect for each other.”
At the time, the chairman of the Central Council, Josef Schuster, and the sociologist and Islamic scholar Yasemin El-Menouar also assessed Jewish-Muslim dialogue as essential in the fight against anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim resentment. Anti-racism and anti-Semitism are problems that Jews and Muslims face in different forms and that they can fight together.
This is not the only Jewish-Muslim dialogue group in Germany: Karovas-Qareeb started its activities in 2019. It was jointly developed by the Jewish Ernst-Ludwig-Ehrlich-Studienwerk (ELES) and Avicenna, an organization for the promotion of Muslim gifted students.
In the same year, the then general director of ELES, Jo Frank, spoke in general about the cooperation with Avicenna: »There is tension between the two religious communities. But Jews and Muslims are not as opposed to each other as non-Jews and non-Muslims often think.
“Religion and politics must be thought of together.”
Dmitry Belkin, director of Shalom Aleikum
At the societal level, there is more that unites than divides: “for example, migration experience, religious practice. At the political level, we have a lot to argue about – sometimes painfully. In any case, we would like to decide for ourselves what our relationship is,” emphasized Frank.
Publicity Belkin raises the question of what the interfaith conversation might look like in the future. From his point of view, at least not in the way it was done decades ago on the Christian-Jewish level. Rather, it means that the dialogue engages the wider public and makes them curious about relevant topics in a society that is becoming increasingly secular and increasingly reported through social media channels.
One thing is clear to Belkin: “Religion and politics must be thought of together, but not in the form of outdated, old conversational formats…