Leah Pisar: “Let us do away with preconceptions and embrace new perspectives”

During her welcoming speech, Project Aladdin’s Chair Leah Pisar reminded the participants at the Tangier Dialogue that “our diversity is the very reason we are here, along with the recognition that there is so much more that unites us than sets us apart.”

Remarks by Project Aladdin’s President Leah Pisar – Opening Session – June 10, 2022

Dear Minister Bourita, Dear Minister Moratinos, Dear André Azoulay,
Excellencies, Dear Friends,

It has really happened! We are here… less than a year after Minister Bourita
received Abe Radkin and me so graciously in Rabat.

It was a memorable meeting. The discussion was fascinating and very animated.
We spoke about the world, about its problems, and about the need, in these dark
times, for hope, dialogue and light.

We spoke about my love for Morocco, my fascination with this country – its rich
millennial history, its multifaceted culture, its colors, sounds and delicious tastes,
the diversity of its terrain… and its unique geopolitical position.

And thus came to be the idea of the Tangier Dialogue. A wish to convene you – all
of you, who hail from all parts of the world, who traveled from near and far to be
here, who bring together so much knowledge, so much diversity, such a wealth of

A wish to look toward the future and to think about how we can forge a new
Enlightenment, a shared Enlightenment – together.

Minister Bourita, how can I begin to thank you for hosting us, and your indefatigable
team for working so hard, under complicated international circumstances, to bring
this together?
The participation and patronage of Minister Moratinos, and of the UN Alliance of
Civilizations, gives this initiative very special meaning, and resonance — as does
the message from Secretary General Guterres, who received us so warmly a few
months ago in New York.

Your Excellency, I must pay homage to your mythical city of Cordoba which, across
these Straights, stands as a historical and breathtakingly beautiful echo of what
brings us here today.

I am simply in awe of this assembly. Excellencies, dear Ministers and
representatives from so many places, your presence here today gives me wings.
It makes me believe that what we are trying to achieve is real, that it can happen,
that it must happen. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking the time out
of your busy schedules to be here.

And it is proof that you share my own belief that, even if we do have differences,
our diversity is the very reason we are here, along with the recognition that there is
so much more that unites us than sets us apart.

Morocco holds a very special place in my heart and, more importantly, in the history
and mission of Project Aladdin.

Dear André Azoulay, our debt of gratitude to you is immense. You have played
such an essential role since Aladdin’s very inception in 2009, with the support of His
Majesty King Mohammed VI, to promote intercultural dialogue and rapprochement
through “mutual knowledge, mutual respect.” We are deeply honored by your
presence here today and for your steadfast support.

On a personal note, I am profoundly grateful for your friendship and your wise
counsel. You encouraged me to take on this challenge a few years ago, and you
never stop pushing me to be bold and try to do what is right.

You are here today on behalf of the King.

As the daughter of a survivor of Auschwitz, I would like to humbly pay homage to
His Majesty for his historical decision to have the history of the Holocaust taught in
Moroccan schools.

This is so dear to the mission of Project Aladdin: a duty to teach the lessons of
history as a universal and contemporary call to vigilance.

So as to better understand, and thus better combat, the roots and manifestations of
so much of the hatred and violence that is roiling our universe today; to warn
younger generations of all races, colors and creeds, and very directly those who
pray to the same Abrahamic God, that the fanaticism and violence that are infesting
our planet could well destroy our children’s world as they once destroyed that of our
parents. Unless we DO something about it.

So I respectfully salute the King for having the courage and vision to show the way.
And I pray that others will follow his noble example.

His Majesty is the proud grandson of King Mohammed V, whose bravery and moral
strength during World War 2 deserve our everlasting respect, and who stood as a
beacon of light, humanity and righteousness in the darkest of times. May his
memory be a blessing.

Light… Yes, light is the leitmotiv of this gathering. You will find it in the sky above
Tangier during the day, and very powerfully as the sun goes down and paints the
horizon with the most dazzling colors.

Now, let me conclude by sharing my hope for this gathering… and be a bit directive:
Dear Friends, I wish for you to live this experience with utter freedom and
informality. I wish for an open, lively exchange. I want each of you to speak, I want
each of you to listen, and I want everyone here to come away with new perspectives,
having had their eyes opened to new viewpoints and ideas.

I want you to do your very best to throw away your preconceptions.

And if, as it bound to happen, you take issue with something that another participant
says, I ask you to keep in mind one of my guiding principles: If I want you to listen
to me, then I must listen to you. Mutual respect is an absolute condition for your
presence here.

I must reiterate one point that I deem essential: We are not here to see eye to eye
on everything. We are here precisely to get to know each other, to meet women
and men with whom we might never otherwise have crossed paths.

In fact, if we do agree on everything over the next two days, then I will not consider
that we have fully accomplished our mission. Rather, we are here to converse and
to try to forge a path forward – a beautifully complex and sinuous path toward the

The title of this meeting might include the word Dialogue. But we must do more here
than just speak.

Our words must be followed by deeds.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not a mere conference. It is a call to action.

Now let us get to work.