Karen Feuer: a Jewish Woman engaged in Interfaith Dialogue in Israel

by Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik e.V. – Even if we know that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a religious one, we are convinced that interreligious dialogue and empathy, interpersonal peace-building can help to start our path to peace and mutual understanding. We talked about it with Karen Feuer, an Israeli-American woman involved in the activities of the Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA). See also our interview with Dr. Yehuda Stolov of the IEA:

Milena Rampoldi: ProMosaik e.V. is convinced that the
interreligious dialogue is very important to promote a culture of peace and
mutual understanding.
What do you think about it?
Karen Feuer: Yes, of course. The more we talk to each other and sit in
the same room with each other the more we promote peace. 
MR: How important is the interpersonal
relationship to struggle against discrimination and racism in your society?
KF: Once you know people personally – even just their names –
you naturally dispel stereotypes and are less likely to generalize about any
given group. It is very easy to label a faceless, nameless group of people as
“terrorists” for example, but when you know individuals — even just
a few — you really can’t generalize anymore. Therefore, these meetings are
very important. 

MR: Which are the most important
obstacles of an authentic interreligious dialogue?
KF: We are still afraid/not ready to discuss differences. We’re
still at the stage of building up trust and getting to know each other in a
purely positive way and therefore we avoid difficult topics, at least
officially. This is why in our Interfaith Dialogue groups we share only on
topics on our religions and we seek out what we have in common and not what
divides us. This is an important stage, but sometimes it’s frustrating to me
personally because I feel as though the bridges we are building aren’t that
strong. What will we do when we disagree? We don’t yet have tools for that.
Once in a while, over snacks, hard issues will come up but everyone is hesitant
to address anything difficult because we are very focused on staying positive
and friendly. 
MR: I am convinced that the
conflict in the Middle East is not a religious, but a geo-political one. But I
think that in any case interreligious dialogue can help people to achieve
peace, away from politics. What do you think
KF: Coming together to discuss anything is building peace
because as I said above, you don’t generalize as easily when you know names and
As the mother of five children I can tell you that conflict
is an intrinsic part of the human experience. You don’t necessarily need a
“reason” to want to have a fight with someone. We need to find ways
to disagree without hurting/killing each other (true in a household as well as
a country!)  
MR: What do peace and justice mean to
KF: Peace and justice go hand in hand and I moved to Israel (from
America) 14 years ago because this country, located at the crossroads of the
world, containing all the worlds conflicts within it in such a tiny piece of
land, has the potential to offer a model of peace and justice for the whole
world. Obviously we are not there yet but in such a small country, we actually
could achieve it. It’s a place where a small group of people can truly make an
impact. I hope I will see this country become more just and more peaceful in my

I live in Maaleh Adumim. I have been involved in Interfaith dialogue with Interfaith
Encounter for over 5 years. I can’t say our dialogue group has made an impact
on the country but I can for sure say it’s impacted each and everyone of its
members and that is also very significant.