The University of Haifa held its first international interfaith conference last week, hosting more than 50 religious figures and academics.
The JCM (Jews, Christians, Muslims) Conference included participants from Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Turkey, Albania, Greece, England, Ireland and Germany.
“We live in a highly religious region, where religious leaders wield tremendous influence. We hope to leverage that influence to make them a force for social change in non-religious issues that affect daily lives for all,” said Uriel Simonsohn, head of the university’s Laboratory for Religious Studies, which hosted the conference.
The conference was held in Haifa in light of the “groundbreaking” 2020 Abraham Accords, according to a university statement.
Simonsohn said he wanted to bring the “vision of peace manifested in the Abraham Accords to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At Haifa, we pride ourselves on fostering religious harmony on campus, and it is our hope that holding these kinds of discussions can be the anchor to creating a more sustainable life.”
For more than 40 years, the JCM Conference has gained a reputation across Europe for promoting dialogue, understanding and solidarity among members of the three largest monotheistic faiths.
The conference’s mission is to spotlight how religion can be a vehicle for social and civic changes. Participants specifically discussed how religion can influence issues related to social justice, environmental sustainability and gender equality.
Participants discussed launching an academic network to connect like-minded scholars from the Middle East and the Mediterranean with politicians and other influential figures in their respective countries.