-AMERICAN MENNONITES AND IRANIANS COME TO A POLITICAL UNDERSTANDING

By Alan Simons

OCTOBER 6, 2008 -The American Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) co-sponsorship of the interfaith dinner with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that took place in New York City on September 25, 2008, should be of no surprise to anyone. Ever since MCCs Ronald Dean Fleming visited Iran in February 2007, MCC and the Iranians have gradually cemented a political understanding with each other that we should watch with concern.

On February 21, 2007, jewishinfonews reported that a one-day meeting had taken place in Tehran between Iran’s Muslim community and MCC. What the Iranians heard from the Mennonite delegation must have made sweet music to their ears.

“We are against the policies of the US government in Iraq, Afghanistan and its Middle East policy, which is contradictory to the instructions of Jesus Christ,” said Ronald Dean Flaming head of the U.S. Mennonite delegation. Here’s what we reported at the time:

At today’s one-day inter-religion meeting between Muslims and Christians in Tehran, the need for dialogue, mutual understanding and putting the outcome of the talks into practice was underlined.

According to the Public Relations Department of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO), on Wednesday, the meeting was attended by the Head of American Mennonite Central Committee Ronald Dean Flaming and its 16 members, ICRO Head Mahmoud Mohammadi Araqi and a number of Iranian Islamic intellectuals and experts.

In separate speeches, both Mohammadi Araqi and Flaming reiterated the need for dialogue and mutual understanding between religions.

Flaming said that based on their rich culture and commonalties, the two nations can find the way for a better life and effective communication.

“Ever since their formation in the US in the 15th century, the Mennonites have also paid a high price. Our revisionist attempts based on Jesus Christ’s instructions was suppressed by the state church and a lot of Mennonites were killed, exiled or imprisoned.

“We are against the policies of the US government in Iraq, Afghanistan and its Middle East policy, which is contradictory to the instructions of Jesus Christ,” he added.

Flaming said the MCC has replaced the government’s military service with humanitarian services to the world.

“According to the instructions of Jesus Christ, we believe that our relations with others should be peaceful and based on mutual respect. At such meetings, we seek a way to go beyond dialogue and manage to gain an effective outcome helping to solve the problems currently facing man,” he concluded.

For his part, Mohammadi Araqi said that it is now time to go beyond dialogue and put the outcome of past negotiations into practice. Indeed, on the surface Mohammadi Araqi’s comment might seem to reflect to the unitiated a sense of stability and respect of other religions. However, his message is succinctly clear; for when Mr. Araqi talks about ‘religion’, he is only talking about the religion he follows in Iran. And that message is of Iran’s intolerance and hate towards Jews and of wiping Israel off the map.

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