At the end of August, I joined the International Reference Group of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel to discuss ways of increasing interreligious understanding through action.
A beautiful video featuring my teacher Rodef Shalom Eliyahu McLean and my ordination at the April 2018 Praying Together in Jerusalem - the video takes about 15 second to load
Article source: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/a-voice-of-hope-and-justice-in-a-sad-context
22 February 2018
By: Claus Grue
In June last year, human rights advocate Raanan Mallek appeared as one of the ”12 Faces of Hope” in WCC’s #SeekJusticeAndPeace campaign to commemorate 50 years of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Last week he participated in the ”Meeting on the Implementation of the Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could lead to Atrocity Crimes”, which was held at the United Nations in Vienna with the World Council of Churches (WCC) as co-host.
In both cases, his presence is a sign of his firm commitment to equal rights, regardless of religion, race or other differences.
A concrete example of that is his engagement in Hands of Peace, which is an interfaith organization developing peace-building and leadership skills in Israeli, Palestinian and American teens through the power of dialogue and personal relationships.
Raanan is also a driving force behind the Praying Together in Jerusalem, a movement, where Muslims, Jews, Christians and people of other faiths gather on the last Thursday of every month to pray their respective traditional prayer together side-by-side.
As positive as such a program is, Raanan is well aware of the reality confronting the Palestinians:
”I feel religiously mandated to represent a voice of justice for the others in our land, first and foremost the Palestinian people. Putting myself into their shoes, the outlook is indeed bleak. Nothing has changed with the occupation and no one seems willing to deal with the real issues of it. It is incredibly sad, because we are meant to be together and our destinies are wrapped up in one another.”
Since his participation in WCC’s 12 Faces of Hope campaign, he has received plenty of both positive and negative feedback.
"As a board member of the Rabbis for Human Rights, I’ve been accused of being used as a token of a pro-Palestinian agenda of the WCC, which by some has been deliberately misinterpreted as anti-Israeli. That is of course not the case. WCC is committed to taking a non-biased position and I am personally committed to helping it express this to potential Jewish partners. My participation in the campaign is solely a human rights issue,” Mallek says.
In spite of a seemingly deteriorating situation for the Palestinian people, with both under-employment and alarming unemployment rates, he is still cautiously optimistic about the future.
”Palestinians are at the very lowest point and things will either continue as they are or get better. There always has to be hope, because the potential is incredible,” he explains.
Mallek sees rays of hope through the programmes in which he is involved, where young people of different faiths find each other, where people pray together and where a vast majority want lasting peace and justice for all.
”I believe in empowering the youth to realize what needs to happen to effectively end the occupation, which is to ensure equal rights for all people in the Holy Land. Quality of life for Palestinians is much more important than the relocation of the US embassy”, he explains.
But nothing comes easy and there is a lot of work to be done to move things in the right direction. The potential is there, but there are strong extremist forces working against peace because “peace will disenfranchise the fanatics”, according to Mallek.
Still, hope prevails and religious leaders are well positioned to prevent and encounter all kinds of hate speech and fanaticism, and to promote equal rights globally. That is what the Plan of Action, discussed in Vienna recently, is all about and this is what drives Raanan Mallek.
Seek #JusticeandPeace in the Holy Land
Implementation Meeting for the Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes- Feb 13-15, 2018
We have spent the past three days here in Vienna, Austria looking at ways to implement the Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes.
The most fascinating part by far were the different people represented at the meeting. I fondly remember how a Shiite colleague approached me the first day, gave me a big hug, explained that he has heard of my work in interreligious dialogue and then said that he would be honored for me to join a working group on interreligious covenant theology.
Another memory which will stick with me was meeting Ambassador Adama Dieng, Under Secretary-General and UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. He asked me what I thought were concrete steps that could be taken and I explained my work with Hands of Peace. He then requested that I email him details about the program which I promptly did.
One that is focused on helping all people of the Land to civilly discuss how to improve our lives; a discussion that allows for antagonism to grow and become constructive conflict ('adeb el ikhtilaf', Arabic for "ethics of disagreement" and 'machloket leshem shamayim', Hebrew for "disagreement for the sake of Heaven"). Seeing and hearing the other allows for us to resonate so that the conversation becomes productive action as we integrate ways to better each other's lot.