Could Haredim Make Peace?

Could Haredim Make Peace?

By Anshel Pfeffer, via The Jewish Chronicle
 
 
01.01.12
via The Jewish Chronicle (click here for original article)
 
 
It is often that the ultra-religious parties are left out of the mainstream discussions, expecially in terms of the peace process. The Geneva Initiative recognized years ago that this perception is wrong and has been working with one of the largest Jewish religious parties - Shas - for years. They have been instrumental in bringing about a positive message for peace and a two-state solution to the ultra-orthodox communities.

 
[Excerpt]
 
 
the best chance for an engagement between Israel and the "new" Arab world could be through Israel's own religious fundamentalists: Charedi political parties.
 
 
Quiet talks between Charedi politicians - mainly from the Sephardi Shas party - and Arab politicians have been going on for years. The Geneva Initiative, a joint Israeli-Palestinian NGO, has been organising these meetings over the past decade. The aim has been to promote a two-state solution. "The talks have been very cordial," said a Shas participant, "and we find that when we sit with them across the table, we have a lot in common in matters of faith and tradition in a modern and secular world. But when it gets down to politics and the specifics of a peace plan, there still a chasm between us. All the same, I think this could be an effective channel of engagement."
 
 
In an interview with the Economist this month, Yaakov Mergui, Shas's religious affairs minister, said: "Men of religion understand each other better, I am ready to meet the Muslim Brotherhood any time, any place."
 
 
While the majority of Shas's voters are resolutely right-wing, as are many of its politicians, including party chairman, interior minister Eli Yishai, the party's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadya Yossef is more of a moderate.