Seville: Aladdin and Three Cultures Foundation Forge Strategic Partnership

                                                    Seville: Aladdin and Three Cultures Foundation Forge Strategic Partnership

A roundtable discussion at the headquarters of the Foundation for the Three Cultures of the Mediterranean in Seville, Spain, between the leadership of the foundation and a delegation from the Aladdin Project on Friday, September 14, resulted in an agreement to forge a strategic partnership with the aim of promoting intercultural dialogue and engagement on a Euro-Mediterranean level.

The two organizations will co-organize an international forum in November 2019 on “Jews in the Land of Islam” to explore the philosophical, religious, literary, musical, artistic and scientific bridges that have existed between the two cultures over centuries of coexistence.

The meeting, entitled “Diversity Management in the 21st Century,” had received the Royal Patronage from His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain. It was co-chaired by Andre Azoulay, Advisor to the King of Morocco and President of the Foundation for the Three Cultures, and Leah Pisar, President of the Aladdin Project. The foundation’s director general , Jose Manuel Cervera Gragera, and deputy director Carmen Fernandez, and Aladdin’s executive director Abe Radkin were also present.

The Aladdin Project’s board of directors was represented by Vice-President Bariza Khiari and Treasurer Yves Kugelmann, and several experts, intellectuals and independent personalities, including UNESCO Special Envoy for cultural diplomacy Judith Pisar; Mounir Bouchenaki, former Assistant Director General of UNESCO for Culture and a recognized expert on cultural heritage; renowned conductor John Axelrod, artistic director of the Seville Royal Symphony Orchestra and Emilio Gonzalez, Professor of Arab and Islamic thought in the University of Seville.

In his opening remarks, Andre Azoulay noted that the foundation and Aladdin pursue similar objectives and a closer and structured cooperation between them was long overdue. The foundation was established nearly twenty years ago to promote greater rapprochement among the three cultures of the Mediterranean. Its ornate and exquisite headquarters, Hassan II Pavilion, had been designed and built for the Seville Expo in 1992.

Leah Pisar thanked the leadership of the Three Cultures Foundation for hosting the meeting, and noted that the scope of cooperation between the two organization was considerable, from organizing musical and artistic events to promote intercultural rapprochement to holding conferences on topics of mutual interest.

Bariza Khiari, President Macron’s personal representative on the board of the International Alliance for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones (Aliph) and also chairs the Institute for Islamic Cultures in Paris, expressed alarm at the rise of the far right on the European political scene, and its grave consequences. She urged a close cooperation between the two organizations to address the questions of anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hate and intolerance on a European level.

Mounir Bouchenaki welcomed the cooperation between the two organizations as a much-needed Euro-Mediterranean initiative. He used the example of archeological discoveries in North Africa to stress the point that the Euro-Mediterranean region has been a multicultural space for centuries where different cultures and faiths have coexisted. Cultural heritage, he pointed out, is an important vector in the dialogue of cultures.

Judith Pisar and John Axelrod developed the idea that music can be an effective means of outreach in promoting better ties among cultures, and stressed the importance of prioritizing education and youth.

Abe Radkin pointed out that the Aladdin Project has recently finalized an agreement with the Bertelsmann Foundation in Germany to organize the European Youth Forum for Living Together in Berlin in June 2019. Aladdin is also working with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation to organize a series of discussions on the contours of European Islam. He welcomed a strategic framework for cooperation between the Three Cultures Foundation and Aladdin that would seek to create a European vehicle for promoting the common objectives of these institutions, namely the promotion of intercultural ties and the rejection of anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.

The meeting concluded with the agreement of both sides to organize an international forum on “Jews in the Land of Islam” in November 2019 in Seville. The forum would explore and display the historic ties that have bound the two cultures in the areas of music, arts, philosophy, literature and sciences.