The Rabbi Speaks

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Ari Alexander is guest blogging (via Blackberry) from the World Conference on Dialogue in Madrid, organized by the Muslim World League under the patronage of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

I don’t know if its the interpreter’s voice finding a way to make everything sound boring (think opposite of obama) or these speeches are just that sleep worthy?

It’s somewhat excusable to feel supportive towards King Abdullah for making this happen – regardless of the 1-10 score for dynamic delivery. But others here – oy. The teacher is supposed to put you to sleep, but your friends?

This is officially closed-door session 1 of 4 and most of the crowd has intellectually checked out. At least I made a new friend sitting next to me via bberry email exchange. Arthur Schneier is patiently waiting his turn. Its no joke representing the jewish people in the first saudi-sponsored interfaith dialogue conference. Let’s see if his is any more engaging than the previous two speakers…

15 minutes later

He is a good speaker – he got the crowd listening by saying he became an addict of interfaith dialogue because he is a holocaust survivor and personally experienced pain and suffering.

“We reject and refute the idea of a clash of civilizations.”

He said because he survived what he did, including living under communism for a period, he has to be an optimist.

He said: “I firmly believe every conflict in the world comes to an end… Eventually the conflicts subside and people learn to live in harmony with one another.”

First mention of israel-palestine of the conference. We’ll see if/when else it comes up – VERY clear saudi organizers going out of their way to avoid even mention of divisive political issues.

His speech sounds a bit tired at times – and too many mentions of his own foundation and its accomplishments.

Strong conclusion – “dialogue is not sufficient. We have to act together.

And then, he delivered the priestly benediction in the name of aaron the high priest to the assembled crowd. Yes, I get goosebumps easily…

Posted on July 16, 2008

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