If the Muslim world sees how tolerant and welcome Israel is, new opportunities for peace and cooperation will open up, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Sunday ahead of the inaugural event of his Friedman Peace Center through force on Monday.
“I want to build trust through religious tolerance, to show how Israel respects the religious rights of all people, and especially the Islamic world,” he said.
“Of the two billion Muslims in the world, only a small fraction was in Al-Aqsa,” he said. “They have limited information. Often the media in the Arab world has not been honest on this issue. “
In reality, “although not perfect, Israel is doing a truly extraordinary job of facilitating Muslim prayer in al-Aqsa and other holy places,” he added. “I want the Muslim world to see it.”
With direct flights to Israel from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, which are signatories to the Abrahamic Agreement, as well as new flights from Egypt, Friedman sees an opportunity for Muslim tourism in Israel.
“I think Israel has a story to tell here,” he said. “I think it’s important because then it will start everything else. When there is trust among people, you can achieve everything. “
Friedman hopes that Muslim leaders, students and business people will promote tourism, which will “remove this suspicion that Muslims are somehow not treated fairly in the third holiest place of Islam. We can radically and quickly change perception for the better. “
In practice, this means that the Friedman Center, a non-profit organization, is working with the Israeli government and other organizations to create a welcoming atmosphere for Muslim visitors to the Jewish state, including facilitating the construction of new hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
This, in turn, could help in hiring and encouraging entrepreneurship of the Arab inhabitants of Jerusalem and areas in the tourism industry.
“We can create opportunities in Jerusalem, and maybe in all of Judea and Samaria,” Friedman said. “Job creation, and also goodwill – when you put them together, I think politics takes care of itself.”
Friedman hopes to be able to use the relationships he has built and the experience he has gained in his four years as ambassador to help the Friedman Center succeed in fostering peace and cooperation.
“In the end, gathering people under the right circumstances, setting politics aside and creating a pleasant, optimistic environment that drives everything else,” he said.
The ceremonial premiere of the Friedman Center for Peace through Power will be presented at a gala dinner on Monday Abrahamic Agreement, a five-member documentary on peace and normalization agreements, produced by Friedman with TBN Network.