Keynote speech by Israel President Shimon Peres at the Interfaith Conference in Kazakhstan
The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev,
I thank you for the opportunity to participate in this important gathering which aims at building a better world: A world of justice, a world of fraternity, a world of peace.
Your decision to initiate an interfaith dialogue in your country can serve as an example for the rest of the world, a world that parts of it seem to have forgotten that we all share the same God, who created man in His image and called him to sanctify life, uphold the covenant of peace, to follow in a good and straight path.
While the monotheistic and humanistic believers, Christians, Muslims and Jews, used to believe that there was just one God for all, compassionate, merciful and righteous, there are nowadays others, luckily a minority, that sanctify a different God, a God that permits massacres, forgives cruelty, and calls upon his believers to destroy, kill, lie and ruin.
This distorted stream constitutes a defamation of the Lord. It is not a religion, it is a crime, a crime against God and man. We must separate religion from terror. This should be a common effort by all believers, regardless of faith, creed or gender.
I recently spoke to His Holiness the Pope when he visited the Holy Land, and he too joins this endeavor. It so happened that his visit took place when our scientists concluded a development of new wheat, that has four heads instead of one. We call it enriching wheat. People should enrich wheat rather than enrich uranium.
Many Muslim religious leaders also expressed their concern at the terrible correlation between religion and terror. And my friends, the Chief Rabbis of Israel, have strongly condemned those that call the name of God in vain, and in His name kill innocent people. Thousands, if not millions of Muslims, have lost their lives at the hands of extremists that call the name of Allah. In the Twin Towers of New-York, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and atheists, all lost their lives as one.
Cultivating interfaith ties of understanding and friendship is vital, not only in interfaith relations, but in the religions’ perception of God.
The first question is always whether God created man in His image, or whether man is trying to create God in his compromised image. Whether we should adopt God’s moral code, or whether we should refer our personal desires to God.
The real concept of monotheism is that God created all human beings in His image, that we were all born equal, and that none of us has the right to appoint himself as a superior force. Only God who created man has the right to determine life. The one that can not give life should not end life. God had no partners in the creation of the world, so there is nobody that can declare war against.
Bolshevism advocated Baz Buzinkiut – an ideology without God. They believed it would be possible to attain social justice without the moral values of God. Bolshevism failed to achieve justice, it failed to discard God. For humanity, it would be difficult to live without a God of justice and without a God of peace.
Our sixth commandment expresses the major point of humanities struggle in the 21st century: “Do not kill.” And it is said in the Holy book Leviticus: “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord. This leitmotiv of our religion is that “All human beings were created in the image of God.”
We must stand up and reject fanatics, and to oppose promoters of hatred and conflicts. Their so-called god is not our God. Their faith is not our faith. Our answer to them is to hold and encourage peace initiatives.
We are aware of the big change which has occurred in the positions of a majority of Arab countries towards peace with israel: a transition from the three Khartoum “no’s”: no to negotiations, no to recognition, no to peace – to the three “yes’s” of the Saudi Initiative.The King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, King Abdullah II, defined this a readiness for peace between the State of Israel and 57 Arab and Muslim states.
Here, from this platform, with your permission, Mr. President, I call upon the King of Saudi Arabia, King Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, the initiator of the Arab peace plan, to meet in Jerusalem or in Riyadh or to travel to Kazakhstan, and together with other Arab leaders we will all be able to realize your vision, our vision and the vision of all believers in our shared God of peace and justice.
Together with the participants of this prestigious conference, we must stretch our hands one to the other, in a spirit of mutual commitment and a prayer for peace and prosperity in the world; for the brotherhood of man, for his freedom, health and well-being; for social justice, and progress, while respecting our separate and unique heritage and differences.
We have the right to be equal, and we equally have the right to be different. And swords will be beaten into ploughshares, and wars will be forever a thing of the past.
Let it be. Amen.