Musharraf to Address Jewish Congress in Historic September Event

Jack Rosen with Jewish leaders

Special South Asia Tribune Report

WASHINGTON, August 25 (2005): General Pervez Musharraf will become the first Pakistani leader to address the American Jewish Congress at a historic event in New York on September 17, which the Congress has announced “may mark a turning point in the relations between our peoples.”

Musharraf’s address would coincide with his visit to New York for the UN Summit which begins on Sept 14.

“I am pleased to announce that President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan has accepted an invitation I extended to him last May in his Islamabad office to address the most pressing global problem – the need for Moslems to embrace modernity with openness and tolerance,” the Chairman of the American Jewish Congress-Council for World Jewry, Jack Rosen, said in a Memo circulated to the top leaders of the Jewish community.

The Memo also disclosed that Musharraf had indicated that he had tested the domestic Pakistani waters over the Israel issue, and felt that diplomatic ties could only follow an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

Rosen gave details of how this invitation was accepted by Musharraf and disclosed that before requesting Musharraf to speak to the Jewish community, he even consulted President Bush at his Texas ranch, who gave his approval.

But the process started when Musharraf himself invited the Jewish leaders to Islamabad, Rosen’s Memo revealed.

“At President Musharraf’s invitation, I went to Islamabad last May with AJCongress-Council for World Jewry Vice Chairman Phil Baum and Director David Twersky. During our discussions, which addressed the Israeli-Palestinian situation, terrorism, and relations between the Islamic world and the West, we proposed that he publicly address a broad sector of the American Jewish community in New York. I am pleased to announce that President Musharraf has accepted our invitation.”

Rosen’s Memo said: “Given the sensitivities involved, we chose to first consult with officials in the White House and State Department and with senior officials in Jerusalem. Several weeks ago, I spoke with President Bush about it at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.”

“President Bush said he saw it as an important opportunity and understood the significance of this step by President Musharraf. President Bush was enthusiastic about the opportunity that was presented and expressed support for our efforts. I suggested he send a high level representative and he made an initial suggestion and said he would consider who he might send.”

Rosen said: “Since it inception, AJCongress-Council for World Jewry, working with Jewish communities around the world, has set before it the task of building bridges to the Moslem world by pursuing contacts with authoritative Moslem political and religious figures in America and around the world.

“We have approached this mission with sobriety and a hard headedness about the Jewish cause, about current conflicts and impending threats. But we have also been informed by the compelling and urgent necessity to look for significant figures in the Moslem world who, by meeting us at least halfway, would help accelerate the process by which the Moslem world finds its way into a healthy and productive relationship with modernity.”

Rosen revealed that the years of contacts and meetings have now begun to bear fruit. “President Musharraf has repeatedly spoken out against extremism in the Moslem world. His doctrine of “Enlightened Moderation” encourages Moslems to embrace pluralism, openness, and tolerance. This will be the first public meeting between President Musharraf and representatives of the Jewish community. It is a departure which may mark a turning point in the relations between our peoples.

His Memo said: “I need not underscore President Musharraf’s crucial role in world affairs, especially at this moment in history. He is a key ally on the war against Islamic terrorism, and leads a large Moslem country that is the only Moslem nation with nuclear weapons. It is hard to overestimate his significance to America or to the cause of Moslem moderation.”

“As the head of a sovereign Moslem state with a large and devout constituency, his public presentation to an American Jewish audience will inevitably resonate far beyond ourselves and our immediate community. Assuredly it will be an event which will be carefully scrutinized and assessed in many parts of the world. Assuredly, it will have consequences.

In our discussions with him last May, I acknowledged President Musharraf’s support for America in the war against Islamic terrorism; his publicly raising the possibility of establishing normal relations with Israel; and his doctrine of “Enlightened Moderation,” encouraging Moslems to embrace pluralism, openness, and tolerance.

“President Musharraf indicated that he had tested the domestic waters over the Israel issue, and felt that diplomatic ties could only follow an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.”

“President Musharraf reacted positively to our suggestion that during his September visit to New York for the summit of international leaders at the United Nations, he should present his “Enlightened Moderation,” doctrine to an American Jewish audience, speaking from an explicitly American Jewish platform.”

“I am therefore pleased to announce that President Musharraf has formally accepted our invitation to address the American Jewish leadership gathered under AJCongress-Council for World Jewry auspices.”

“This unprecedented event will take place on the evening of September 17 in New York City at the Marriott Hotel. This major leader from a Moslem powerful nation will publicly deliver a major policy address to American Jews, hoping that his message will be heard by Americans as well as by his fellow Moslems everywhere.”

“In the short term, reaching out to authentic Moslem leaders may carry some risk. But the greater risk would be to forgo the long term benefits derived from finding a leader – especially one of the magnitude of President Musharraf – who is willing to be a voice of moderation and reason.”

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