AIJAC in Indonesia

November 19, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Jeremy Jones, Director of International and of Community Affairs of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council has paid a six-day, seven-city and eight-lecture visit to Indonesia.

Jeremy Jones delivers a lecture

“It was a privilege to be invited to speak to some of Indonesia’s most important academic and Islamic institutions before audiences of in which very few if any, present had ever met or heard directly from a Jewish person before’ Jeremy Jones said.

Jones visited Java and Sumatra

‘The Dynamics of Religion and Politics in the Contemporary Middle East’, ‘Religious Dialogue in the Age of Resentment and Rising Populism’, ‘Explaining the Sources of Conflict in the Middle East’ and ‘Mutual Understanding by Monotheistic Religions to make Progress Towards Peace’ were amongst the formal subjects addressed by Jeremy Jones.

“The question and answer sessions at universities in Surabaya, Jakarta and Padang indicated a real and sophisticated engagement in religion, Middle East politics and international affairs generally and the feedback since the lectures indicated a great appreciation for me coming and presenting some views which would have been novel and others which helped contextualise information they had gained from other sources” Jones added.

Jeremy Jones photographed through Magen David shaped latticework , saying Mincha in Grand Mosque in Padang, Sumatra

‘In discussions with academics in a number of cities there was a real effort to overcome deficits in information generally available to Indonesians, on Jews, Judaism and the Middle East’, he explained.

In religious institutions in Rembang, Cirebon and Tangerang much of the discussion concerned Jewish beliefs and Jewish understandings of Quranic and other Islamic references to Judaism and Jewish people.

He stated: “The thirst for knowledge and the gratitude for the opportunity to hear from a Jewish person, rather than simply hear somebody else talk about Jews, was obvious.

A number of the questions were surprising in their nuance and detail and, although it would not be accurate to conclude that everything I said was accepted without question, every discussion was respectful and sincere.”

During the course of the visit, he met with parliamentarians and political and social activists, as well as individuals involved in social welfare and public safety.

He also had the opportunity to meet with a number of past participants in groups he had led to Israel and the Palestinian Authority ‘In the Spirit of Gus Dur’, honouring the great leader of Indonesia and proponent of interfaith dialogue President Wahid.

In addition, he met with graduates of the Australia Indonesia Muslim Exchange Programme, who he had hosted at the Sydney Jewish Museum when they had been in Australia as guests of the Australian government.

“The trip was not just as exhausting as it sounds but both challenging and rewarding”.

”Indonesia is not only the country with the world’s largest Muslim population but also a near neighbour of Australia. Although under challenge, there is a strong commitment to multiculturalism and also to exploration of ways in which this important country can play a more constructive role as a global citizen. I had many encounters with individuals and institutions demonstrating a capacity to both build a better Indonesia and contribute to the development for an Islam not dominated by insular extremists” he concluded.

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