Last Thursday, a delegation of rabbis joined Adnan Oktar, a prominent Turkish Muslim cleric, at the Çırağan Palace Ballroom in Istanbul for his traditional iftar feast ending a day of fasting during Ramadan. More than 750 people from different religions and nationalities, including Jewish and Christian clergy and lay leaders, joined Oktar for the annual event hosted by Oktar’s organization, the Movement for the Culture of Peace and Reconciliation.
The guest list included a number of illustrious attendees, several of them Israeli: the chief rabbi of the city of Shoham, Rabbi David Stav; retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Rabbinical Court of Israel Rabbi Abraham Sherman; Anglican priest Todd William Kissam from Maryland; and Co-Chairman of the Muslim–Jewish Friendship Organization in France, Imam Mohamed Azizi.
Rabbi Yishai Fleisher, International Spokesman for the Jewish Community in Hebron, was also present. He praised Oktar’s multicultural effort, saying, “I think that by you bringing us here today to Istanbul, you are part of that vision of connecting the peoples of the Middle East.”
“Israel… is a blessing for the entire region and the Islamic world,” Oktar said in reply. “[Muslims] are not aware that Jews are people of love. The love for Moshiach brings blessings to Israel.”
Oktar promised that the Temple of Solomon would be rebuilt in Jerusalem, and that he would help the Jews lay the first foundation stone. He explained that his motives for helping the Jewish People came directly from the Koran.
“You will be in those lands,” Oktar said. “This is the commandment of God; there is no other way. God clearly declares in the Koran that the Jews will reside in Israel. [God says] do not leave Israel. God says that Jews will inhabit Israel, in Jerusalem. You are the ornaments, the beauty of the region. The contrary is impossible.”
One of the highlights of the event was a video message from Likud Party Knesset Member Rabbi Yehudah Glick. Rabbi Glick has attended the event in previous years as Oktar’s guest, and referred to him in the message as “a champion of religious tolerance, champion of love to all human beings, [and] champion of God in the world.”
“He is a Muslim respected by many Muslims around the world, and he is a man of peace,” Rabbi Glick told Breaking Israel News. “I have been working with him for many years, and am proud to say that he is a Muslim figure taking a stand against terror.”
Fleisher returned from his visit with great hope that such meetings could bring necessary changes to relations between Israel and Turkey.
“Oktar uses his influence and wealth to bring clergy and opinion-makers to Istanbul to discuss the bringing of the Messiah and the building of the Jewish Temple,” Fleisher explained to Breaking Israel News. “He believes that the Jews are helping return Muslim youth to Islam and God, drawing them away from the negative influence of communism. He bases this all on the Koran.
“He is an unconventional individual,” Fleisher admitted. “But to be a Muslim in Turkey today, to be a high-profile figure in the Islamic world and call for peace, you have to be out of the box. This is especially true for a Muslim who believes it is a Muslim imperative to help the Jews and Israel.”
He saw the event as the “beginnings of a reformation” in the Muslim world, expressing, “This is a huge movement in Islam that just needs a leader and a partner among the Christians and Jews to really take off.”
Oktar has hosted other esteemed rabbis in the past, including the former Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Holon Rabbi Avraham Yosef, and Rabbi Avraham Sherman of the Rabbinical Supreme Court of Israel.