Bethlehem Bible College Launches the Palestinian Academic Forum for Interfaith Dialogue in Cooperation with An-Najah University

Bethlehem Bible College and the Faculty of Sharia at An-Najah National University launched the Palestinian Academic Forum for Interfaith Dialogue.

This initiative was carried out by Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, the Academic Dean at Bethlehem Bible College, and Dr. Amjad Abu El Ezz, Professor of Political Science at the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at An-Najah National University. The initiative aims to promote civil peace in Palestine by creating real opportunities for communication between Academics in Islamic law and theology to work together on changing misperceptions on both sides, strengthening brotherhood and rejecting extremism and racism, and creating a solid foundation for discussing fundamental ideas of interest to Christianity and Islam.

The meeting was attended by a delegation from the College consisting of Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, Prof. Salim Munayyer, Prof. Shireen Hilal, Prof. Daniel Bannoura, and Prof. Yousef Al Khoury. In addition to Prof. Dr. Jamal Kilani, Dean of the Faculty of Sharia at An-Najah University, Prof. Dr. Odeh Abdullah, Dr. Nasser al-Din al-Shaer, Dr. Ghassan Badran, and Dr. Amer Joudallah.

Dr. Isaac pointed out the need to always open channels of communication between members of the same community at a time when religion is exploited for political reasons and spreading discrimination, stressing that the challenge before us is how to contribute, as academics in theology and Sharia, in spreading a culture of peace, justice, civil peace and renounce extremism and racism.

Dr. Isaac said, “Today, there is a great ignorance among the followers of the Christian and Islamic religions about the other, and there are distorted images of the other, which necessitates the need to communicate and build bridges.” He added, “What distinguishes Palestine with its history and present is religious and cultural pluralism, and we have stressed in our first meeting that diversity is a source of wealth.”

“Historically, we have a very good relationship with Muslims, but after ISIS, Christians have become ignorant and fearful of Muslims,” said Professor Daniel Bannoura. “It is time to think about how to love and share with our Muslim neighbor, how to develop long-term relationships, preserve our cultural and religious pluralism in Palestine, and preserve the testimony of the Gospel as being salt and light in our country.” He added that the aim of this initiative is not to melt or compliment and to deny differences and variances, but to work together in building our society.

The first workshop of the Forum came up with a recommendation to form a committee to draft the internal system and structure of the initiative. They also agreed on several axes for discussion that will be discussed at the next meeting, which will be held at Bethlehem Bible College building in Bethlehem on 28/10/2019. These include the Palestinian civil peace in Shadow of religious concepts, the concept of comprehensive citizenship, the rights of citizens, and the role of religion in the preservation of the land and holy sites, in addition to the concepts of diversity and their impact on the preservation of the Palestinian identity.