Religious Leaderships in US Are for Peace in Middle East

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Religious Leaderships in US Are for Peace in Middle East

By Fr. Rif'at Bader — New York

Ten years ago, what is still being called nowadays as the "National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East" was established in the United States, with the aim of pushing the United States to move in earnest in a roadmap for hammering out a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement.

 

This initiative was launched by thirty-two leading religious figures headed by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington and Jordan's yearly cherished guest. Its members were of Christian, Islamic and Jewish denominations, with each party providing eight members.

 

 

Peace has not prevailed so far, yet peace efforts are still taking an assiduous path, the latest of which was a message highlighted by the US media and addressed by the initiative members in late July to US Secretary of State John Kerry. The message accentuated their unwavering support for the US foreign diplomacy in its new endeavour to give the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian peace a priority in American policy. They also asserted that the two-state solution is the cornerstone, and that the more time is wasted, according to the message, peace becomes further afar.

 

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Members of the initiative lauded a statement made by Secretary Kerry about definitely reaching a final formula in the near future for a solution after returning to the negotiating table. They said that peace has not been achieved in spite of many previous efforts, but the recent efforts have undoubtedly led to reaching the "clues" for a solution acceptable to both parties.

 

What is important in the message of the heads of three religions is that it does not offer a peace initiative or new solutions, but it expresses the commitment of the heads of the three religions--including, of course, the diversity within each religion--to firmly move the public opinion in the US and the world in the direction of bolstering the new determination of the US administration towards the attainment of peace. They also mentioned that their roles are not political but are limited to prayers in churches, mosques and synagogues—as well as the efforts  of their affiliated social institutions, or those compatible with what the initiative calls for—in support of the efforts under way.

 

The signatories concluded their message by saying: "The path of peace is thorny and difficult, but we firmly believe that peace is still possible."

 

The initiative of the heads of religions for peace in the Middle East marks its 10th anniversary, and it is reassuring to hear that it did not lose hope of bringing peace. Throughout the past ten years, the peace process in the East has stumbled, particularly in the wake of the so called bloody Arab Spring revolutions and prior to that the Gulf wars. We are still unable to define the number of victims who fell over the past decade, nor the millions of the displaced who seek security and bread. We hereby encourage every initiative that lights a candle rather than simply curse the dark, in order to maintain the flame of hope glowing.

We also confirm that the initiative is greatly based on the fact that religious leaders, in any religion, have a duty to be advocates for peace at every time and in every place, through prayer and social work which would serve human life and dignity. It is definitely unacceptable that any cleric turns into an advocate of war and destruction.

Abouna.org@gmail.com

Wed, 11/27/2013 - 13:48
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