Similar meetings are planned for Ramallah and Hebron in 2019. "I now understand that there are people in every religion who work to improve understanding and who want to live together in peace," said one participant after a meeting.

According to Hefetz, this is exactly the kind of learning effect that the initiative wants to achieve. "We want to show that we have shared values." All three religions forbid the killing of fellow humans and consider respect for others a fundamental value. Despite this, she says, religion is used again and again as a justification for violence.

"This is why," adds Hefetz, "all of us, together, have to consciously decide in favour of a humanist interpretation of the religious texts." Then, she adds, it will be possible to find compromises for religiously charged conflicts such as the Western Wall (or "Wailing Wall") in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Nava Hefetz from the Rabbis for Human Rights initiative (source: YouTube)
"The media don't report about attempts at dialogue," says Hefetz from the Rabbis for Human Rights initiative. "They are only interested in suicide bombings and terrorist attacks"

In Israeli society, such encounters that go against the grain are often frowned upon. Moreover, the media is not interested in them. "The media don't report about attempts at dialogue," says Hefetz. "They are only interested in suicide bombings and terrorist attacks."

Egypt: very little interest among Orthodox Copts

There are only a handful of Jews living in Egypt today, all of whom are over 60 years of age. Finding out anything about Judaism is therefore difficult. Although the Jewish community is officially part of the Abrahamic Forum, which was founded in Cairo in 2016, the Abrahamic Teams have in effect to get along without its involvement.

Tharwat Kades was born in Egypt, but has been living in Germany for decades. He spent many years working as a minister of the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau in Germany. Now retired, he is devoting himself to a subject very close to his heart, namely interfaith dialogue in the country of his birth. Together with Jurgen Micksch, he came up with the idea of building up interfaith dialogue work with the Abrahamic Teams in Egypt.

To this end, Kades approached the Coptic Evangelical, Coptic Catholic and Coptic Orthodox Churches as well as Al-Azhar University and the Baha'i community.

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