Muslim religious leaders from Africa visit Israel
MFA DG Gold: " I have just returned from a visit to South Africa where
apartheid existed in the past, with separate hospitals for whites and
blacks. I invite you to visit Hadassah Hospital, where you can see the
staff and patients, Jews and Arabs side by side."
(Communicated by the MFA Spokesperson's Bureau)
14 March 2016
Imams and other Muslim religious leaders from a number of central African
states arrived in Israel today for a four-day visit (13-17 March 2016). The
visit was arranged by the Africa Division and the World Jewish and
Interreligious Affairs Bureau of the Israel Foreign Ministry, in conjunction
with the American Jewish Committee. The visit aims to familiarize the
visitors with socio-political aspects of Israel; to generate an
interreligious, intercultural dialogue; and to explore possibilities for
economic and agricultural development cooperation.
The delegation is comprised of senior religious leaders and imams from six
African states spread throughout the continent, which gives the visit high
strategic importance with regional implications and media impact beyond the
states represented by the delegates. In most cases, the Muslim religious
leaders serve also as community leaders and have broad political influence;
their visit will contribute to strengthening the diplomatic ties between
Israel and Africa.
The agenda for the visit includes meetings with senior officials; diplomatic
and strategic briefings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; meetings at the
Knesset; meetings between the imams and the chief rabbis on the subject of
coexistence; a visit to the holy sites of the three religions, including
Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem; and tours of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa and
Acre - cities that serve as models for interreligious coexistence in Israel.
At the present time, when African states are confronting threats from
Islamic jihadist terrorism, we attach prime importance to meetings with
moderate Muslim religious leaders. These meetings could serve as a
stabilizing factor and boost Israel's connection to these sectors of African
MFA DG Dore Gold meets with delegation
Foreign Ministry Director General Dr. Dore Gold, met this on Monday morning
(March 14, 2016) with a delegation of religious leaders and imams from
Africa, guests of the Foreign Ministry. Dr. Gold welcomed the delegation to
Israel and noted that "Prime Minister Netanyahu plans to visit Africa this
year, saying, "Israel is coming back to Africa; Africa is coming back to
He added, "I am pleased that you will have the opportunity to see the
situation in Israel first-hand. I have just returned from a visit to South
Africa, where apartheid existed in the past, with separate hospitals for
whites and blacks. I invite you to visit Hadassah Hospital, where you can
see the staff and patients, Jews and Arabs side by side. We also established
a field hospital in the Golan Heights to treat wounded Syrians. They are by
definition of our enemies, but we treat them as a humanitarian mission of
the first order."
The delegation numbers nine leading Muslim religious figures from the
Republic of South Sudan, Zambia, Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
Interreligious dialogue holds a central place on Israel's diplomatic agenda
in Africa. Israel's ambassadors to Africa are involved in activities to
strengthen ties with the Muslim community, such as donating sheep for the
Eid al-Adha holiday, engaging in interreligious dialogues, and more.
Delegations of Senegalese imams and senior clergy visited Israel several
years ago (2013 and 2014). The visits were very successful, showing the
visitors different aspects of Israeli life and Jewish-Arab coexistence. The
visitors returned to their country with high motivation to strengthen
diplomatic ties with Israel and improve Israel's public image through the
media and academia. Long after the delegation returned, the media continued
to portray Israel as a multifaceted and open society.