As president of Indonesia, the world’s third largest democracy, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (popularly known as SBY) said he’s setting a good example that “democracy, Islam and modernity can go together in positive symbiosis.”
Rabbi Arthur Schneier was pleased to hear such praiseworthy remarks. For on this 30th day in May the rabbi, aided by Henry Kissinger who celebrated his 90th birthday three days before, bestowed the World Statesman Award upon SBY at the Appeal of Conscience dinner at the Pierre Hotel in New York. Since founding the organization in 1965, Schneier has crisscrossed the globe to stimulate world leaders to promote inter-religious dialogue and protect minorities.
The Indonesian president pledged to preserve a nation where “all God’s children—Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Confucians and other faiths—live as one in freedom and brotherhood.”
One faith seemed to be missing in the framework of his agenda.
Actually those five religions are the only ones officially recognized by the state. Indonesia, with the world’s largest Muslim population, apparently does not recognize the Jew as one of God’s children. Thousands of Jews found safety in Indonesia during the Holocaust; today only 20 are left in Jakarta and Surabaya.
That truly is a minority. But the Jewish presence is still felt. Shaar Hashamayim in North Sulawesi is the last synagogue still open, though little used. A 62-foot tall menorah, erected by the local government, remains on a hill overlooking Manado with its heavy Christian presence.
SBY proudly announced that “we are actively promoting Abrahamic unity so that all the offspring of Abraham can finally live together in total peace in the 21st century.”
One may well ask: How can you strive for Abrahamic unity if you don’t recognize the Jew, the very first offspring of Abraham, long before Christianity and Islam emerged?