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Letter to President Bush on Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East

 

National Interreligious Leadership Initiative
P.O. Box 6307 Hamden, CT 06517

November 25, 2003

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders united in support of active, determined U.S. leadership in pursuit of peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states - the kind of leadership to which you committed the United States at Aqaba in support of the Road Map to Peace. Evidence of public support among Israelis and Palestinians for civil society peace efforts such as the the Geneva Accord makes this a particularly important and hopeful time for determined leadership.

We are coming to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, December 2, and will hold a Press Conference at 2:00 pm to announce the National Interreligious Initiative. As you know, we hope to meet with you in the very near future to discuss ways we and our constituents can support U.S. leadership for peace in the coming months. At the same time, we are communicating with members of Congress and other elected officials to urge broad, non-partisan support for fair, firm U.S. leadership for peace.

As Palestinian and Israeli leaders consider their options, we believe renewed high level U.S. engagement will be essential to help both sides take the bold steps necessary to rebuild hope that peace is possible. We fear if the Road Map is allowed to fail Israelis and Palestinians will sink even deeper into cycles of violence and counter violence that could escalate into regional confrontation, undermine the global campaign against terrorism, and threaten vital U.S. security interests in the region and worldwide.

As representatives of religious traditions rooted in the Middle East and leaders of communities with deep ties to people on both sides of this tragic conflict, we believe working together for peace reflects a central, shared moral imperative of our Abrahamic religious traditions. We believe the vast majority of Americans, as well as majorities of Israelis and Palestinians, will support more active, determined U.S. and international engagement, including consistent, visible presence of the special Presidential envoy and much more vigorous public monitoring of the steps that each side must take.

We support the Road Map's goal - the goal you articulated more than a year ago - of a viable, independent and democratic Palestinian state alongside the existing Jewish state of Israel, with enduring peace and security for both peoples. Achieving this goal is essential to comprehensive, just and lasting peace between Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states based on U.N. Security Council Resolutions, 242, 338, and 1397.

We support the Road Map's unequivocal call for an end to all acts of violence as essential to building peace. We are encouraged by evidence from polls that majorities on both sides understand that the fundamental aspirations of each side - real security for Israelis and the end of occupation for Palestinians - cannot be achieved by violence, but only by negotiations. We believe pursuing peace requires dialogue and other efforts by people on each side seeking to understand the real fears, grievances, and legitimate aspirations of people on the other side.

We support the Road Map's call for reciprocal, simultaneous steps to be taken by the Palestinian Authority and by the Israeli Government to help restore hope and make tangible progress toward peace in the areas of Security, Palestinian Institution Building, Humanitarian Response, Civil Society and Settlements. So far the steps taken by both sides have been far too timid and the monitoring process practically invisible. In the enclosed document we recommend twelve "Urgent Steps for Peace." We believe U.S. insistence on these steps would be supported by large majorities in our communities, by majorities of Israelis and Palestinians, and would win substantial moral and political support worldwide.

Your creative, determined leadership in the coming weeks and months will be crucial for overcoming the bitter legacy of violence and for building confidence that even in the face of setbacks the Road Map can work. We encourage you to be steadfast as you face the challenges from those, motivated by fear and hate or mere political partisanship, who will seek to block the road to peace. We pray you will have the resolve and strength to persevere.

The God of Abraham gives all of us hope to believe that peace between Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states is possible. We believe that the principles and ideas discussed in official and unofficial talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and also in earlier negotiations between Israel and Syria provide realistic benchmarks for mutually acceptable solutions and that achieving a just, comprehensive peace in the Middle East is essential for progress in the global campaign against terrorism and for the future of world peace. We believe that the land which was the birthplace of all three Abrahamic religions can once again become a source of hope, justice and reconciliation for the whole world and that Jerusalem can become the city of peace.

Respectfully,  

 

List of Signatories

Christian Leaders

His Eminence, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
Archbishop of Washington

His Eminence, William Cardinal Keeler
Archbishop of Baltimore

Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Bishop of Belleville
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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 Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President
Central Conference of American Rabbis

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

Rabbi David N. Saperstein, Director
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Rabbi Peter S. Knobel, Former 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, President
A Different Future

Ronald J. Young, Executive Director
U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East

 

* Organizations Listed for Identification Only



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