Interfaith Delegation for Peace in the Middle East

This is the report from the interfaith delegation for Peace in the Middle East that visited Washington, DC. The delegation included one Board Member of UMA, Iftekhar Hai.
National Interreligious Leadership Initiative
for Peace in the Middle East
P.O. Box 6307 Hamden, CT 06517
(On the web at: www.walktheroadtopeace.org )

On December 2, 2003, in a widely reported national press conference, thirty-three of the nation’s most prominent Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders announced a new, unprecedented collaborative effort to mobilize broad public support for active, determined U.S. leadership in pursuit of Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace.

In a letter requesting a meeting with President Bush and in parallel letters to members of Congress, the religious leaders are calling on the Administration to make peace in the Middle East a highest priority; and they warned that if the Road Map is allowed to fail Israelis and Palestinians will sink even deeper into cycles of violence, jeopardizing the prospect of a two-state solution, escalating regional instability, undermining the global campaign against terrorism, and threatening vital U.S. national security interests.

Encouraged by the Israeli-Palestinian civil society peace agreement signed in Geneva on December 1, the American religious leaders said they believe this initiative and the Nusseibeh-Ayalon peace plan, as well as earlier official Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Syrian negotiations, provide benchmark principles and ideas for possible peace agreements, but that active, fair and firm U.S. leadership will be essential to help the parties move toward that goal.

In his New York Times religion column (12/6/03), Mideast Initiative Pushes Beyond Platitudes, Peter Steinfels wrote that what makes this initiative different is who these religious leaders are, what they said, and what they plan to do.

Who the Religious Leaders Are:
* Christian leaders include two Roman Catholic Cardinals, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church, leaders of the Lutheran, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ Protestant denominations, three prominent Christian evangelical leaders, and editors of two of the most influential national Christian publications. 
* Jewish leaders include heads of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the University of Judaism.
* Muslim leaders include leaders of the largest national Muslim religious organizations—Islamic Society of North America and Islamic Circle of North America—as well as the President of the Council of Mosques; and leaders of the United Muslims of America, The Mosque Cares, and the American and International Sufi Muslim Associations.

What They Are Saying - Twelve Urgent Steps for Peace:
The thirty-three religious leaders endorsed four steps the United States and Quartet should take to renew momentum on the Road Map: First, restate the Road Map’s unequivocal call for an end to all acts of violence and work actively for a ceasefire.  Second, keep a special presidential envoy consistently and visibly active on the ground.  Third, make the road map’s simultaneous steps by Israel and the Palestinian Authority even more specific, with a timetable and vigorous public monitoring.  Fourth, support benchmark ideas for possible peace agreements from earlier negotiations and civil society initiatives such as the Geneva Accord..

The leaders advocate four steps for the Palestinian Authority and four for Israel that they believe would have majority support in their communities.  Muslim leaders took the lead on the four steps the U.S. should demand of the Palestinian Authority and Jewish leaders on the four to be taken by Israel.  These include that the Palestinian Authority continue democratic and financial reforms, halt violent attacks against Israelis, and dismantle groups which persist in carrying out attacks; and that Israel dismantle unauthorized settlement outposts and freeze expansion of settlements, take measures to ease the humanitarian situation for Palestinians, and halt construction of the security or a wall where it involves confiscating Palestinian land or threatening the viability of a future Palestinian state.

What They Plan To Do and What You Can Do:
* Call the President (202) 456-1111or E-Mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and your Representative and Senators urging that President Bush meet with the National Interreligious Leadership Delegation and that the United States provide active, fair, firm leadership in pursuit of full implementation of the Road Map to Peace; send the “Twelves Urgent Steps for Peace” to your Members of Congress;
* Utilize church, synagogue and mosque newsletters, e-mail lists and websites to build a broad, interfaith public voice for peace - urge your congregation/community to endorse the National Interreligious Initiative and help communicate its urgent message for peace;
* Publicize Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives, e.g. the Geneva Accord and Nusseibeh-Ayalon principles - plan a community forum;
* Join or create a local interfaith leadership group, modeled on the national leadership initiative, and help communicate its message for peace.  Call (360) 652-4285 or E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for someone to visit your area to help start a local interreligious initiative.
The Delegation List, Letters to the President and Congress,
the Twelve Urgent Steps for Peace and a way to show your support and participation in the National Interreligious Initiative for Peace are available at www.walktheroadtopeace.org

The National Interreligious Initiative for Peace is organized and coordinated by A Different Future (http://www.adifferentfuture.org), the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East (http://www.usicpme.org), and the United Religions Initiative (http://www.uri.org), with assistance of the public relations firm of Ruder Finn and initial financial support form the Nathan Cummings Foundation.


LIST OF NAMES OF
National Interreligious Leadership Delegation
In Support of the Road Map to Peace in the Middle East

Christian Leaders

His Eminence, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
Archbishop of Washington

His Eminence, William Cardinal Keeler
Archbishop of Baltimore

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate
Greek Orthodox Church in America

Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, Secretary, Council of Bishops
United Methodist Church

The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold III, Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church, USA

The Reverend John H. Thomas, General Minister & President
United Church of Christ

The Reverend Wm. Chris Hobgood, General Minister & President
Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)

The Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk
Presbyterian Church, USA

The Reverend John Buchanan, Editor/Publisher,
Christian Century

David Neff, Editor and Vice President
Christianity Today

The Reverend Leighton Ford, President
Leighton Ford Ministries

Richard J. Mouw, President
Fuller Theological Seminary

Jewish Leaders

Rabbi Janet Marder, President
Central Conference of American Rabbis

Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, Executive Vice President
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Rabbi Amy Small, President
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Rector
University of Judaism

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Dean
Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies

Rabbi Harry K. Danziger, Vice President
Central Conference of American Rabbis

Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President
Central Conference of American Rabbis

Rabbi Peter S. Knobel, Member of the Board of Trustees
Union of American Hebrew Congregations

Rabbi Merle S. Singer
Temple Beth El - Boca Raton, Florida

Rabbi David E. Stern
Temple Emanu-El - Dallas, Texas
Muslim Leaders

Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, Secretary General
Islamic Society of North America

Naeem Baig, General Secretary
Islamic Circle of North America

Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, Leader
The Mosque Cares

Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director & Director, Interfaith Relations
United Muslims of America

Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain
Georgetown University

Dawud A. Assad, Former President
Council of Mosques, USA

Seyedeh Nahid Angha, Co-Founder
International Association of Sufism

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder
ASMA Society

Delegation Co-Coordinators

Dr. Bruce E. Wexler   Ronald J. Young             Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs
A Different Future   U.S. Interreligious Commitee   United Religions Initiative
      for Peace in the Middle East


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