Why is Israel so important to Jews

Jews, Christians and Muslims in Israel Peace with Abraham's Help?

A good two dozen young people are still looking for a seat this winter evening at the Ben Zvi Institute in Jerusalem. In a few months they will begin their army service, which is compulsory for women and men in Israel. They use the months before that for various learning programs.

On this evening they meet the so-called Abrahamic Team: representatives of the three Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Jewish human rights organization "Rabbis for Human Rights" organizes meetings of this kind. They include an Islamic scholar, a pastor and the reform rabbi Levi Weiman Kelman:

"The program aims to show that members of different religious traditions take different positions and disagree - but do so with respect or even lovingly. This is particularly important here, where arguments often lead to violence."

The "Tomb of the Patriarchs" in Hebron. Abraham, his wife Sarah and their sons are said to be buried here. (Lissy Kaufmann / Deutschlandradio)

The three religious representatives talk about human dignity that evening. They describe the point of view of their religions and show similarities. After all, they all have the same roots, as the Islamic scholar Layla Abed Rabo explains:

"It is important to me to attend these meetings because we are all children of Abraham. It is important that we sit down to show the young people that there are similarities between religions. And on these similarities we can have a dialogue build to foster coexistence. "

"This hype is important"

Dialogue and understanding in the name of Abraham, following in the footsteps of the ancestor - this is booming in a country that some call sacred and yet is marked by conflicts. There is the Abraham Fund, which advocates the coexistence of Jews and Arabs; the Abraham Hostel and Abraham Tours, as well as the Abraham Path hiking trail.

For the Protestant theologian and Bible archaeologist Dieter Vieweger, the hype surrounding Abraham is understandable. He advocates using Abraham even more for peace initiatives:

"Those who want to say something that unites each other, of course, come to Abraham, and that's why the hype is also important. It should be much bigger, not just among the few people who are peaceful and willing to reconcile. That should be said to everyone: Everything you think and say: Remember, we shared all of this, we got it from one root and remember that the other also carries truth within himself. This is a large religious community, Jews, Christians and Muslims. "

Orthodox Jews pray in the synagogue at the "Tomb of the Patriarchs" in Hebron. (Lissy Kaufmann / Deutschlandradio)

Abraham is a father figure for the three great world religions and an important starting point, albeit each in its own way. For Judaism, Abraham is also the first settler in the Promised Land, as biblical scholar Yair Zakovich explains:

"Abraham is the father of our nation, this is how he is presented to us in the Bible. He was called by God to leave the old world and come to the land of Canaan, to Israel. He wanders through the land, building here and there an altar. Foundation stone for all holy places here in Israel. "

Pilgrimage site for Jews and Muslims

Hebron, a good 50 kilometers south of Jerusalem, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Abraham, his wife Sarah and their descendants are said to be buried here, in the "tomb of the patriarchs". Today there are not only 2000 year old Jewish tombs here, but also the Islamic Abraham Mosque and the remains of a Christian church from the time of the Crusaders.

The grave is a place of pilgrimage for Muslims and Jews, but both religions remain to themselves, explains theologian Dieter Vieweger. Even more: they share the grave.

"Machpelah, the tomb of Abraham, is also one of the bizarre opportunities to see how things work together," says Vieweger. "And the normal rule is that Abraham and Sarah lie in the middle and are divided, are accessible to both. And the other groups each have a patriarch, so Isaac and Jacob and their wives. That is bizarre, but it is at least a modus vivendi. "

A group of tourists is led through the Abraham mosque at the "Tomb of the Patriarchs". (Lissy Kaufmann / Deutschlandradio)

The travel company Abraham Tours shows tourists from all over the world the region - in the footsteps of the nomad Abraham. The Dual Narrative Tour takes you to the controversial city of Hebron.

A former Jewish settler and a Muslim resident show a group of tourists their city one after the other. They each describe their view of things - not neutrally and unfiltered. Tour guide Mohammed leads to the Abraham mosque:

"We are here on the Muslim side of the tomb of the patriarchs. This iron grating separates us from the Jewish part. The grating has been around since the massacre in the mosque. It was a turning point, with the massacre everything changed."

Massacre in the grave complex

In the 1994 massacre, the Jewish assassin Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Muslims. To get to the other side of the grave today, the tourists have to walk around the outside, past security guards, and then back in through a second entrance.

Here, on the Jewish side, a group of ultra-orthodox is praying. But in a historical and multi-religious place, a complete separation between Jews and Muslims is hardly possible, says the Jewish tour guide Adam.

"Three times a day the Israeli police escort a Muslim through the synagogue, through this corridor we just came through. There is a room in the back with a microphone, and there the Muslim calls to prayer."

"There will be peace when everyone talks to each other"

Security guards and soldiers - they are part of the Hebron cityscape. There are always arguments. And in the middle of it is possibly buried Abraham, in a certain way the source of all quarrels.

And yet the progenitor is also a glimmer of hope for peace in this very place. Because it reminds you of the similarities. Noam Arnon also seeks contact with the other descendants of Abraham. He is the spokesman for the Jewish settlers in Hebron:

"I meet heads and clan leaders on the Arab side. I believe that there will be peace in this country if everyone talks to one another. Hebron, the city of the forefathers and mothers, should, can and will be the place for a new peace concept." . "