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A priest, a rabbi and a sharia judge walk into a climate change conference

From L to R, Kadi Zahalka, Rabbi David Rosen, Father Francesco Patton at an interfaith event to fight climate change in Jerusalem July 26 2017.
The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD)
A letter from 36 Israeli orthodox rabbis who demanded action on climate change was also released at the event

Just a few minutes walk away from the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday, where Jews and Muslims are at violent loggerheads over conditions of access to a site holy to both, religious unity was flourishing over an entirely different issue: climate change.

A sharia court judge, rabbi and Christian priest shook hands at an event organized by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD) at the Jerusalem Press Club, asking the followers of all three faiths to combat man-made climate change.

"We are part of creation, so we have to take care of our common home and take responsibility for creation,” said Father Francesco Patton, the head of the Franciscan order in the Holy Land.

A letter from 36 Israeli orthodox rabbis who demanded action on climate change was also released at the event.

“Reducing climate change must be a central focus of Jewish life today,” the letter reads.

The rabbis quote religious teachings including Genesis 2:15: "The Lord God took the human being, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and conserve it."

“Based on these and other Jewish teachings, we believe Jews should be on the forefront of efforts to help avert a climate catastrophe,” the rabbis say.

The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD)

“Making this even more important is that Israel is especially threatened by climate change. The Middle East is a very hot, dry area and projections are that it will become hotter and dryer, making instability, violence, terrorism, and war more likely.”

Rabbi David Rosen, the international director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee (AJC) advocacy group said “today climate change is a matter of life and death. Because of this, everything else becomes secondary—it's like rearranging the deck chairs on the ship Titanic as we head for the iceberg.”

"The interfaith event also included the director of Israel’s sharia court system, Kadi Iyad Zahalha. He emphasized the need to "take care of everything for the coming generation. We need to do our part in saving and preserving nature and all the earth."

The head of the Jerusalem-based ICSD, Yonatan Neril, said that studies show “increased drought and extreme heat in the Middle East, which are exacerbating conflict and threat multipliers.”

The global fight against climate change copped a blow in June when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement whereby 195 countries committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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