Jerusalem, Israel - July 9, 2019 - The U.S. Embassy Jerusalem and the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) held a discussion on the State Department's recently released 2018 International Religious Freedom Report, in Jerusalem, Israel on Monday morning. Since 1998 the US has been investigating freedom of religion around the globe and publishing its findings.
Dr. Shuki Friedman, director of the Center for Religion, Nation, and State at the IDI opened the meeting and introduced Curtis Ried who presented the United States State Department's most recent findings.
Ried mentioned that Israeli government cooperated with their investigation as opposed to other locations in the world where they received no cooperation.
Southern Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raid Bdir spoke in Hebrew with his comments translated to English. The village Bdir grew up in decided not to oppose the state of Israel and work to improve their community and situation.
Former Member of Knesset Rachel Azaria, who is Modern Orthodox and was concerned with family and women's issues when in Jerusalem Municipal government, mentioned the conflict of Israel being Jewish and Democratic. Reform, Masorti, and pluralistic movement representatives followed with comments.
First of the various participants called on for comment was Akiva Tor representing the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry who concluded his remarks saying, “the situation in Israel is imperfect and it always will be imperfect. " However, he ended, "But, we are on a positive trajectory.”
The proceedings were broadcast live on both the IDI website and by the Jerusalem Post.