During the 8th Doha Conference of Inter-Faith Dialogue, World Jewish Congress Vice-President Rabbi Marc Schneier defended Israel against a diatribe by Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi, the chief Islamic judge of the Palestinian Authority, who said Israel was "illegally occupying" and "Judaizing" Jerusalem.
Rabbi Schneier declared that "Jerusalem represents Jewish hopes and dreams. For millennia, we have prayed toward Jerusalem. We pray at the Western Wall, we mourn the destruction of our Temple 2,000 years ago, and we tell each other 'Next year in Jerusalem'. Jerusalem has always been the capital of the Jewish state, ancient or modern. It is therefore an insult to all of us to accuse us of illegally occupying the city.
"At the same time, we respect that Jerusalem is a holy place for Christians and Muslims as well. We know that the status of Jerusalem is at the forefront of peace talks, but denying the other side's right to bethere is wrong and counter-productive," the rabbi added.
The WJC vice-president praised the organizers of the Doha Conference, which was opened on Tuesday by Qatar's Justice Minister Hassan bin Abdulla Al Ghanim, for focusing on how to raise future generations in a spirit of respect and understanding for other faiths.
"This is what inter-religious dialogue is all about: winning the future, and not fighting the battles of the past," he said.
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