Unification News for February 2005

IIPC of the Holy Land

Druze and Moslem Communities Celebrate Id Al Adha

The Director of Interreligious Affairs in IIFWP, Israel Sheik Ali Birani has conducted a special congratulatory tour to the Druze and Moslem communities on the occasion of the high holyday Id Al Adha. Accompanied by the Secretary General of IIFWP - Mr. Hod Ben Zvi they began the tour visiting the Carmel town on Saturday 22nd January 2005, the 3rd day of Id Al Adha. They were hosted by the former mayor of Daliat El Carmel (a Druze village now part of Carmel town) Sheik Nawaf Halabi. Among the dignitaries present was Benjamin "Fuad" Ben-Eliezer the newly appointed labor minister of infrastructure in Sharon's coalition government. Ben-Eliezer, apparently a good friend of the Druze community for 30 years, gave the following remarks:

"I believe we have a breakthrough. Our purpose for being in the government is for the disengagement to succeed. Solution is found around a table because when we talk people don't die. The PA has a new chairman who thinks like Arafat but stands against terror violence and incitement. He wants to sit around the table and understands that the fight is like a drug to the extremists. He initiated the deployment of the Palestinian policemen to stop the rocket shooting in coordination with Israel and we should commend him on that. And maybe there will be a comprehensive peace and the world will know that this infamous Middle east enables people to live together in Harmony."

Also present in the meeting were the present Mayor of Carmel- Dr. Akram Hasoun, the former mayor of the town of Usfia Sheik Shrif Abu Roken, the Bishop Riah Abu El-Asal - Head of the Anglican Church, 10 Imams and several city council members.

The IIFWP's representatives were commended by the host for their work for peace and greeted by many of the dignitaries as well as the new minister present.

The second stop was at Dir El Asad a Moslem town in the Galilee. Sheik Ali Rafa and his Wife Sara hosted the small delegation and invited them to celebrate together. They exchanged traditional greetings and discussed future possibilities of mutual visit to enhance the work of peace.

The last stop was at the Druze town of Julis visiting the home of the spiritual leader of the Druze Sheik Mowafaq Tarif. The home is considered a holy ground for the Druze as the great sage Sheik Amin Tarif the grandfather of Sheik Mowafaq is berried there.

The place was crowded with many of the Druze leaders from all around the country. Welcoming remarks were given by Sheik Tarif who related to the significance of the holyday as well as the state of the present Druze community. He was especially addressing 3 new Governmental ministers who came join the Holyday celebration. The Community explained Tarif, is in a desperate need for more job creating business as well as allocation of land for young couples to build their homes.

The three ministers have responded one by one. First spoke the Minister of Interior Ophir Pines-Pas (Labor-Meimad) who dramatically declared his intention to change direction in his office. So far he said huge funds were allocated to the development of the settlement in the west bank and Gaza however he intends to redirect the support towards the Galilee and the Negev. He turned to the local leaders and said my door will be open for you. Though I can't do magic but I can certainly work hard to advance your situation.

The second speaker was the Minister of Housing Isaac Herzog (Labor-Meimad) who acknowledged his father's (the late President of Israel- Haim Herzog) friendship with the late sage Sheik Amin Tarif. He also joined to the Pines-Pas call for equalization of the minorities' rights in Israel. Finally spoke the Minister of the Environment - Shalom Simhon (Labor-Meimad) - a long time friend of the community who happens to be also from the next door Jewish village. The visit ended with a beautiful feast prepared by the host on the backdrop of the pastoral village.

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