The 44th meeting of the Dialogue took place at the Centre for Theology and Ministry in Melbourne on Tuesday 16 May.
Uniting Church and Jewish members of the Dialogue discussed a report from a trip to Israel and Palestine made by members of the Dialogue between the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Synod of NSW/ACT.
Members considered the positive framework in which significant discussions about Israel/Palestine and Christian/Jewish relationships took place on the trip and how further discussions could be modelled from the group’s experience.
We observed the value of listening to the multiplicity of narratives and experiences and how this helps us to see that it is not a simple, two-sided issue.
There has been a commitment from both Uniting Church and Jewish Dialogue members on the trip to work together to tell the stories and relate their experiences.
We observed how this commitment will strengthen the relationship, validate each other’s experience and help all move towards new insights.
We also discussed ongoing debates over free speech and the Federal Government’s failed bid to amend sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Among Dialogue members there was unanimous support for the retention of Racial Discrimination Act. We agreed that Government’s proposal to remove 'offend and insult' would weaken rather than strengthen the legislation and the support for minority groups.
We spoke about various forms and impacts of racism whether it be physical, verbal, psychological or spiritual and how there is often links with religious discrimination.
The Dialogue will meet again in November in Sydney where it will discuss recognition and relationship with Indigenous Australia among both faiths. We will also further explore how interfaith relations can help overcome religious discrimination and the status of blasphemy laws in our region.
Rev. Dr Matt Wilson is Co-Chair of the UCA-ECAJ Dialogue.