Dry Bones - interfaith relations with Jordan
Dry Bones - interfaith relations with JordanY. Kirschen

Jordan’s failure to promote interfaith relations between Muslims and Jews has once again witnessed rioting on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

More than 400 Arabs were arrested and more than 150 wounded by Israeli police – reacting to lethal rocks and other objects being stockpiled inside the Mosque and stones being thrown at Jews worshipping below at Judaism’s holiest site – the Western Wall.

Jordan and Israel committed to undertake the following obligations under the terms of article 9 of their 1994 Peace Treaty:

1.Each Party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.

2.In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.

3.The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.

Jordan has done little to promote interfaith relations with Jews – whilst actively promoting interfaith relations with Christians.

On 13 October 2007 a document titled “A Common Word “ -was launched – authored by Jordan’s H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad and signed by 138 leading Muslims.

The opening paragraphs state:

“Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.

"The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity. “

Jordan’s ruling Hashemite family have used their symbolic status as Muhammad’s descendants to give weight to this Muslim-Christian interfaith message

Jordan’s King Abdullah has reportedly carried this interfaith message to the UN General Assembly, the Vatican, and capitals across the West. Jordan’s Prince Hassan and Prince Ghazi crisscross the globe as ambassadors for this message.

Abdullah was awarded the prestigious 2018 Templeton Prize for doing:

“more to seek religious harmony within Islam and between Islam and other religions than any other living political leader”.

Abdullah apparently overlooked promoting Muslim-Jewish interfaith relations as promised in the Peace Treaty during these important overseas trips.

A Common Word explains why Jews have been excluded from Jordan’s interfaith program:

“Jewish scriptures are invoked repeatedly and respectfully in the document. It is quite normal for documents to be bilateral without implying the exclusion of others. Moreover, this is a Theological document and the problems between Jews and Muslims are essentially political and thus religious de facto and not Theological de jure, with both religions having essentially the same understanding of the Unity of the One God — as we see it at least. Also, Jewish Scholars and Rabbis have participated in the Common Word Conferences in Yale and Cambridge.”

Abdullah has been remiss in not promoting this message out of respect for his father King Hussein’s memory.

.28 years later – with relations between Jews and Muslims improving following the Abraham Accords - Jordan and Israel need to promote interfaith relations between Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem – sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims - more than ever before.

Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades.