On July 25th, 2011, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development organized an Interfaith Eco Forum in Jerusalem. At the event, Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders spoke out on environmental issues as a joint panel. The panelists were Bishop William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Deputy Minister of the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Religious Affairs Haj Salah Zuheika, and American Jewish Committee International Director of Inter-religious Affairs Rabbi David Rosen. They are members of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, which represents the high religious authorities of the Holy Land: the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Palestinian Ministry of Religious Affairs (Waqf), the Palestinian Sharia Courts and the assembly of the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem. In April of 2011, this Council endorsed the Holy Land Climate Change Declaration, which the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development submitted. The event was held at The American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem.
Prolonged drought, the recent fires in the north, the drying up of rivers, and significant ecological changes all underscore the Holy Land’s particular vulnerability to environmental changes. The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land (CRIHL) recently endorsed a Holy Land Declaration on Climate Change, which articulates a religious call, based on the respective teachings of the Abrahamic faiths, for action to address climate change. For the Declaration text, go to www.interfaithsustain.com
Rabbi Rosen said, “Our responsibility to future generations is a cardinal tenet of our respective religious heritages.”
Bishop Shomali said, “We are accountable for how we use this Earth. The earth is like our home, and those who live in the same home should know how to live together. The main religions should study ecological issues together because we have a common destiny. We need to put all of our energies together to solve the environmental crisis, which is ethical, moral, and spiritual.”
Haj Zuheika spoke about the roots of environmental awareness in the Koran, and contemporary environmental challenges in the Middle East.