For the first time ever a traditional Muslim iftar dinner marking the end of the month of Ramadan was held under the auspices of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, The Times of Israel reported  Wednesday. The dinner was arranged by Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren and was held at the Knesset.
The dinner was originally slated to take place in the Prime Minister’s Office, but the 100 guests who gave positive responses to his invitation were too many to be accommodated there, so it was moved to the Knesset. The iftar dinner “marked the first time an event marking the holy month of Ramadan was held at the epicenter of Israel’s executive branch,” according to the Times.
“The State of Israel is proud of its minority populations, who enjoy freedom of religion — Druze, Bedouins, Circassians and Christians,” Oren said. “This is true democracy.”
He added that even though Israel is a Jewish state, it “respects the traditions and the heritage of our region.”
Oren had started hosting iftar dinners when he served as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States. While in Washington D.C. he said that he received invitations for iftar dinners from European embassies. It occurred to Oren, “wow, we have a Muslim population that, by percentage, is much higher than France or Germany. Why is there no Israeli iftar?”
The tradition of an iftar dinner being hosted by the Israeli embassy in Washington has been continued by his successor, Ron Dermer.
Tuesday night’s dinner was attended by members of Israel’s Arab, Druze, and Bedouin communities, and it included religious leaders, council heads, and social activists. A number of diplomats also attended, including the ambassadors of Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Norway, and Paraguay.
During the dinner, a number of Muslim officials praised Oren’s initiative in arranging the dinner, and one suggested that it should be made a permanent, similar to the event marking Ramadan held annually at the President’s Residence.
[Photo: Italy in Israel / Twitter ]