Prof. Azza Karam, Secretary General of religions for Peace, talks at Ecumenical Churchday.
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/ “Failed Leadership” – Azza Karam Analyzes the Conflict in the Middle East at the 3rd Ecumenical Church Day in Germany

"Failed Leadership" - Azza Karam Analyzes the Conflict in the Middle East at the 3rd Ecumenical Church Day in Germany

The motto of the third Ecumenical Church Day was: "Look, take action. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also among the many guests at the talks. In a video talk, Azza Karam emphasized the importance of cooperation between religions.

(Frankfurt) The ongoing conflict in the Middle East is a consequence of failed leadership – both political and religious. Prof. Azza Karam, general secretary of Religions for Peace, said this Saturday as a talk guest at the 3rd Ecumenical Church Congress in Frankfurt.

“As long as we think only about the interests of one person, one political party or one religion, so as long as we think about the interests of one individual – no matter how small or big that individual is – we will never have security, peace and stability in this region.” The conflict, she said, can be reduced to a simple formula: “No one is safe – neither Israelis nor Palestinians – until both, unless everyone in this region is safe. That’s a simple reality. It’s not rocket science, it’s a simple reality.”

That is why, she said, there is no way around the fact that the leaderships of the political parties and religious institutions must move toward each other, work together to support each other.

„No one is safe - neither Israelis nor Palestinians - until both, unless everyone in this region is safe. That is a simple reality.”

Azza Karam

The “Ecumenical Church Day” is a Christian gathering in Germany organized primarily by the two major denominations – Protestants and Catholics. The first Ecumenical “Kirchentag” was held in Berlin in 2003, the second in Munich in 2010, and the third now in Frankfurt in 2021 – mainly as a virtual event because of the Corona pandemic.

The motto of the Church Day is: “Look at it, tackle it”. The three leading themes dealt with these questions: “All a question of faith and trust?”, “Cohesion in danger?” and “One World – Global Responsibility?”.

The importance of the interdenominational conference was also underscored by the prominence of the participants. For example, the Church Day opened on Friday with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. German Chancellor Angela Merkel took part as a discussion guest on Saturday and discussed the current state of environmental protection in Germany with, among others, renown climate activist Luisa Neubauer, rural youth leader Daniela Ordowski and the two sustainability researchers Prof. Ortwin Renn and Prof. Uwe Schneidewind. Margot Käßmann, co-president of Religions for Peace, was also among the discussion guests.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks about environmental protection at the 3rd Ecumenical Church Congress.

Prof. Azza Karam, herself a Muslim, appeared in the “Talks” series on Saturday. She not only analyzed the current outbreak of violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip. She also talked about why religions around the world have so little voice at the political level: religions are still in competition with each other, religions strive to be “better than the others,” they argue too much about values and about which God is more merciful or kinder. This discussion, she said, prevents true cooperation, causing religions to lose their voice as moral authorities.

„Find those who think and feel and believe passionately about their faith. Find each other, work together and serve together.”

Azza Karam

At the same time, Karam highlighted how helpful and impactful faith communities and faith-based nongovernmental organizations can be in humanitarian affairs, provided they work together. The best example of this, she said, was the Corona pandemic. The quickest and most effective way to help is for faith communities to cooperate with each other, rather than taking individual actions on their own. The Religions for Peace network’s launch of the “Multi faith Humanitarian Fund in Response to COVID-19” was an example of how well this worked.

“Find those who think and feel and believe passionately about their faith. Find each other, work together and serve together. That’s the lesson we learned from the multi faith relief fund, that’s what we want”, she said.

You can find the full conversation with Azza Karam by following this link (there is also a German translation).

Azza Karam im Videotalk auf dem 3. Ökumenischen Kirchentag.
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“Failed Leadership” – Azza Karam Analyzes the Conflict in the Middle East at the 3rd Ecumenical Church Day in Germany

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