MJC 2014 – Day 5

Combatents for Peace address MJC 2014

This year MJC invited Suleyman Kathib (Palestinian) and Uri Ben Assa (Israeli) from ‘Combatants for Peace’ to speak to participants about their personal experiences of rejecting violence in favour of dialogue and cooperation in the pursuit of peace. Whilst the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most challenging and controversial topics to breach between Muslim & Jewish communities, we felt it was necessary to address this issue constructively in a safe and secure space with experienced facilitators. As a rule, the MJC is an apolitical organisation and our purpose for inviting Combatants for Peace was to show how a situation of non-communication can be transformed into one of communication. We are convinced that the opportunity to see how peaceful collaboration between Muslims and Jews is possible despite the Middle East conflict was of benefit to our participants.

Shoah survivor – Helga Pollack-Kinsky – recounts her life experience

The MJC was proud to welcome Helga Pollak-Kinsky, a Holocaust survivor, who recounted her personal experiences during World War II. Participants were able to engage in a Q&A session with our guest as they were particularly interested in Ms. Pollak-Kinsky’s thoughts on injustice, animosity between religious groups and her book “Mein Theresienstädter Tagebuch 1943-1944.”

After lunch, participants reconvened to their committee sessions.

In the evening, the MJC were proud to invite participants, honorary guests and one of Austria’s most popular broadcasters, ORF, to their 5th annual Opening Ceremony at the Korea Kulturhaus.

After welcoming the guests, Secretary General of the MJC, Ilja Sichrovksy, explained the urgency of sustaining organizations such as the MJC for its provision of a safe space for people to engage in sincere and honest dialogue within an interfaith context in order to demolish cycles of hatred, injustice and inequality. Due to current turbulent political situations, the objectives of the MJC of cultivating a sense of understanding between one another, enhancing cultural and religious sensitivity and building friendships has never been as necessary as it is today. ‘Enough’, stated Mr. Sichrovsky in Arabic, Hebrew and English, ‘Enough.’ We change now.

Session on Srebrenica genocide of 1995 unites Muslim & Jewish participants

In 2011 MJC visited Babi Yar (Ukraine) where Muslim and Jewish participants held a joint prayer for those massacred during the Shoah, which is a memory that our Secretary-General – Ilja Sichrovsky – recalls vividly. Since then MJC has actively begun visiting sites of genocide and conflict, and our 2013 delegation performed the prayers of both traditions in Srebrenica (Bosnia). We felt it was necessary to share this experience with MJC 2014, and invited our Bosnian chair of the ‘Collective Memory’ committee to hold an open lecture on the atrocities committed against Bosniak Muslims in 1995. The session included Q&A and discussed opportunities for European students to visit Srebrenica on funded projects.