Last week (22 November 2019) I had the honour of being invited to participate in the leadership summit which was hosted by the embassy of the United Arab Emirates and the center for human rights at the University of Pretoria.
The summit addressed the concept of tolerance with the theme being, a “Year of Tolerance; Prospects for Peace and Stability in Africa”.
His Excellency Mahash Saeed Alhameli, the UAE Ambassador to South Africa opened the colloquium with messages of acceptance and understanding.
The United Arab Emirates government announced that 2019 would be officially proclaimed the Year of tolerance, to highlight the country’s decision to welcome people of all backgrounds and beliefs and its role in encouraging peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond. It is conscious of its religious and cultural diversity and aims to promote its values globally. It was a great privilege to be invited to represent the Jewish faith and I was asked to talk about peace, living together and doctrines of Progressive Judaism.
The conference focused on how education and knowledge-sharing can be a powerful tool to raise awareness on tolerance in diversity. We tried to analyze the issues on tolerance and peaceful co-existence, and its impact on the social fabric of society. Many people came to chat after the lecture and gave their feedback, I believe that knowledge is power and if I managed to educate the audience to view Judaism from my perspective and to see the religious angle as inclusive then my goal was achieved.
I found the conference to be warm and welcoming fostering the feeling of hope, mutual respect, understanding and focus on our commonalities. I believe the delegates left the workshops and sessions with a better understanding of one another and their cultural and religious beliefs.