French Chief Rabbi Calls for Dialogue Between Judaism, Islam

Rene Sirat, the Chief Rabbi of France, believes Judaism has more of a common language with Islam than with Christianity. He called here Thursday for a dialogue between Judaism and Islam, stressing that the issue was religious, not political.

Political problems should be left to those who deal with them, but the religious leaders of Judaism and Islam should tackle the theological issues and discuss them thoroughly, the Algerian-born Chief Rabbi told a conference here attended by leaders of the French Jewish community and Israelis of French origin.

“We have no major theological problem with the world of Islam. It is Christianity which claims it is versus Israel,” Sirat said. Esau hates Jacob, according to the Midrash whereas Islam regards the Jews as “Ahl Al-Kitab,” the People of the Book. Islam has never claimed to be the true Israel, the French rabbi observed.

He urged Israel to face the East rather than serve as a bridgehead between East and West. He quoted Isaiah: “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.” He added, “If we really know how to be the kingdom of Cohanim (priests) and a sacred people, then peace will prevail.”

Sirat asked those attending the conference, “How many of you have ever read the Koran?” He said he asked because “If we want a dialogue, we have to find out what the partner for the dialogue says about himself.”

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