(JTA) — A Jewish member of the Ukrainian Parliament said it is up to religious leaders to educate young people to ensure that hatred and extremism are stopped.
Oleksandr Feldman, a Ukrainian lawmaker and Founder of the Institute of Human Rights and Prevention of Extremism and Xenophobia, made the comments Tuesday in conjunction with his unveiling a new initiative to encourage the world’s youth to become better advocates for tolerance education and inter-religious dialogue.
The announcement came at the end of a conference in Kiev called World Religions and Civil Society United against Hatred and Extremism.
“More than politicians or any other public figures, clerics and religious leaders bear the heaviest onus of responsibility to ensure that the world become a more loving and tolerant place,” said Feldman. “Education is the key to creating tolerance. The children of today need guidance in religious tolerance and sensitivities. If we start with the young, we have hope for the future.”
Feldman also criticized a decision by Israel’s chief rabbinate to refrain from interfaith dialogue with Muslim clerics until they denounce recent violent attacks by Palestinians on Jews in Israel.
"We feel the conversation and cooperation between different faiths must continue,” Feldman said. “Only good can come out of dialogue between our communities. Stopping to talk will solve nothing and will only be viewed by the terrorists as an achievement in disrupting all the successes our communities have already achieved.”
The two-day conference brought participants from the three main monotheistic religions from all around the world including France, the Netherlands, Israel, Jordan, U.S.A., Norway and locals from the Ukrainian community.