World’s largest Muslim organisation hosts AIJAC’s Jeremy Jones

August 19, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest membership Muslim organisation, has hosted Jeremy Jones, the Director of International and of Community Affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.

Jones speaks at the National University of Indonesia

Jones speaks at the National University of Indonesia

Jones was a guest of the Organising Committee of the 33rd Muktamar (Summit) of NU in Jombang, Indonesia, earlier this month in an historic breakthrough in Jewish-Muslim relations. Elected delegates from around the country met for the first time since 2010.  Jones  was introduced as a friend of NU and a pioneer in Jewish-Muslim dialogue.

The summit was addressed by Indonesia’s President Jokowi, and other official guests included a former Indonesian president, a large contingent of serving parliamentarians, diplomats and Islamic scholars from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Prior and subsequent to the Summit, Jones embarked on a speaking tour organised by the NU participants in this January’s Muslim-Jewish dialogue in Israel hosted by AIJAC.

Amongst the highlights of the visit were:

  • Speaking at an international symposium on religion and peace attended by over 600 scholars and students, hosted by well-respected Pesantren leader Sheikh Qoyim Yakub;
  • Participating in a panel discussion at the University of Indonesia, attended by foreign affairs officials, academics and activists in Islamic organisations, on Religion and Middle East conflicts;
  • Conducting a round-table on Judaism and Dialogue hosted by the Shariah Law Faculty at the State Islamic University at Semarang;
  • Answering more than 30 questions on Judaism and Israel at a Q & A session hosted by Indonesia’s teaching interfaith organisation, Interfide, in Yogyakarta;
  • Addressing 200 Alumni of Al Azhar University (Cairo) on the importance of (former Indonesian President) Gus Dur to international interfaith dialogue;
  • Participating in a symposium on multiculturalism in Indonesia and Australia at the University of NU in Jakarta;
  •         Reciting psalms at the gravesite of former Indonesian President Gus Dur.

He also met politicians, political advisers, human rights NGOs, representatives of both the historic and new organisations of Jewish Indonesians, academics and religious leaders, represented Judaism at the Jakarta Interfaith Hallal BiHallal (a post-Ramadan event designed to improve interpersonal relations) and visited the historic Jewish cemetery in Surabaya.

Jones participates in a seminar on multiculturalism

Jones participates in a seminar on multiculturalism

“In the audiences of mainly religious Muslims, there was enormous interest in Jewish prayer, the contrasts between the Torah and the Koran, the sources of Jewish wisdom and foundations of Jewish law”, Jeremy Jones said.

“There was respect, curiosity and a stream of intelligent questions, many of which presented me with the opportunity to correct misconceptions”, he added.

“When the discussions had a focus on the Middle East, it was often apparent that much of the anti-Israel antagonism was the result of ignorance rather than malice, and shaped by the media rather than by ideology”, Jones noted.

“Questions relating to Australia were often concerned with Reclaim Australia, challenges to Hallal Certification and perceptions in Australia of Indonesian political figures”, he said.

Amongst many highlights in addition to the participation in the Muktamar Opening Ceremony, were the presentation to Jeremy Jones of the prayer hat of the Koran Reciter at a university symposium, who said that he was happy and surprised to be so inspired by the first Jewish person he had encountered; a three-minute ovation when he demonstrated laying tefillin to a large group of students, and being thanked by senior academics for “removing false conceptions” concerning Jews.

He said that Nur Munir, from the Law Faculty at the National University of Indonesia, assisted by Miftahul Jana and supported by other NU colleagues, had gone out of their way to try to maximise the benefits to Jewish-Muslim and Jewish-Indonesian relations from the visit.