It's a good sign that the Saudis are sponsoring this event. It's just a pity that it cannot take place IN Saudi Arabia. Because to do so would involve the arrest and possible death or imprisonment of all non-Muslim attendees. The Saudi government is single-handedly responsible for the spread of Wahabbism in the Islamic world and for funneling its oil money (of which there is now more, thanks very much)into 20,000 madrassas worldwide which spread this kind of radical thought. It's difficult for me to believe that when one compares the Saudi purchase of influence and the aura of legitemacy bestowed on it by its generous sponsorship of various Middle Eastern and Islamic studies programs in universities throughout the United States with its insistence on an extreme form of Wahabbism which it likewise generously sponsors, that this conference is nothing more than a publicity stunt.
However, if there is one thing that is redeeming about this talk it is that even the Saudi royal family sees that there is some benefit to talking about differences. This in and of itself indicates some level, however minimal, of willingness to listen to other points of view. And that, in and of itself, is a positive development regardless of the short-term public relations benefits that it might see as the result of this conference. With the rise of radical Shi'ia majorities in, for example, Iran, the Saudis clearly have an understanding that a lack of rapprochement with the West (e.g., Christians and Jews) will lead to revolution - buckets of blood - all over the Sunni world and the concomitant loss of power and money to which they are ultimately and really betrothed to.
Money don't care who owns it.
The grave implications of how Islam and Christianity have dealt differently with their Jewish roots.
Avi Beker, The New Republic Published: Thursday, July 10, 2008
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Jews themselves have historically recognized the difficult situation imposed on them by their "chosen" status. Sigmund Freud, using his theory of the subconscious, blamed this special categorization (in his words, "the first-born, the favorite child of God") for the world's obsession with and hatred of Jews. In turn, Jews throughout history have looked upon the "chosen" concept as controversial and arrogant, and many have tried to reject or deny it. In 1885, the Jewish Reform movement in America adopted the Pittsburgh Platform, declaring that they didn't wish to be a nation at all and thus reinterpreting the concept of chosenness as part of a moral mission to help the world. About 50 years later, Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of the Reconstructionist Movement, proposed a Judaism that rejected, in his words, the "anachronistic" and "arrogant" concept of the chosen people that perpetrated "race or national superiority." Early Zionists also tried to escape the fate of "the chosen" in order to be a "normal" nation. Yosef Haim Brenner, an influential writer for the socialist Zionism and the Kibbutz movement, wrote at the beginning of the twentieth century: "I would blot out from the prayer book of the Jews of our day the [words] 'Thou hast chosen us' in every shape and form."