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Guidelines for Supporting the National Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East

We welcome your participation in working with us towards our goals and offer the following guidelines for speaking in support of the statements of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative with members of Congress and/or representatives of the media.

Stay on Message

  • Keep focused on the unprecedented interreligious composition and timeliness of this initiative and on the main points of current NILI advocacy positions.
  • Don't address issues which we have not discussed or agreed on. It's perfectly appropriate to say, "We have not discussed that and therefore I have no comment on it."
  • Emphasize that your local effort is in cooperation with heads of twenty-five national Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious organizations.

Main Points of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative

  • See our most recent advocacy statement for guiding your message.
  • To make Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace an urgent, top priority of U.S. policy. The United States has an inescapable responsibility and an indispensable role to provide creative, determined leadership for building a just peace for all in the Middle East by advancing the goal of a viable, independent and democratic Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, with security and peace for both peoples and peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors. U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397 provide the internationally agreed framework for comprehensive and lasting Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace.
  • While we are not experts in diplomacy, the Initiative has made several specific suggestions for the U.S. role:
    • Address warnings to both sides to prevent violence, and undertake diplomatic efforts, in coordination with the Quartet, to help maintain a durable, effective ceasefire; all attacks on civilians must immediately end;
    • Continue to support Palestinian state-building and economic development capacity, including immediately lifting the Congressional hold on humanitarian aid;
    • Support Palestinian efforts to form a government capable of representing the West Bank and Gaza on the essential conditions that it agree to halt violence, respect all existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and negotiate a two-state peace agreement with Israel;
    • Urge Israel to halt all settlement expansion, including in East Jerusalem; and
    • Urge a resumption of negotiations for a two-state peace agreement, based on U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, and drawing on elements from the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), the unofficial Israeli Peace Initiative (2011), and the Geneva Accord (2003) which might lead to an agreement acceptable to both side.

Conflict and tension between our communities

  • In response to questions about tensions between our communities in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we urge that your responses reflect the foundational Principles of Cooperation adopted by national leaders of the Interreligious Initiative.
  • Note especially the second principle: "Recognizing and appreciating the deep, precious bonds many of us have with different sides of this conflict and how these bonds sometimes cause us to have different and conflicting viewpoints, we believe our areas of agreement are more important than our disagreements, and we commit ourselves to work together conscientiously and sensitively to emphasize our common agenda for peace."
  • While various religious leaders in any of our three communities may at some time have made contentious, partisan statements related to the conflict, including justifying or seeming to justify killing of innocents, this does not rule out or invalidate our working together now based on agreed upon Principles of Cooperation and our united support NILI advocacy statements. After all, many Israelis and Palestinians who now are working together for peace in the past may well have participated in fighting against each other.
  • Indeed, this interreligious initiative takes inspiration from the more then 500 Israeli and Palestinian families of the Parents Circle who have lost family members in the conflict and now are committed to working together for peace and reconciliation. These Israeli and Palestinian parents of kids who were killed set a high moral standard for all of us.

Specific issues in the conflict

  • If reporters ask questions about specific issues, e.g Palestinian tensions and reform, suicide bombings, the security "fence," or "wall," settlements, etc., we advise that you stay focused on the main message and points of the current NILI advocacy positions.
  • Remember you are not simply responding for yourself or your organization, but for an interreligious Jewish/Christian/Muslim initiative. Think how a particular question or issue may be viewed by your colleagues for peace in the other two communities.

Emphasize actions you are taking or plan to take

  • Communicating your support of the Initiative’s statements to your Senators and Representative.
  • Joining with other endorsers to seek appointments with your Senators.
  • Announcing the Initiative and distributing materials from the National Initiative to congregations.
  • Urging members of congregations who support the Initiative to write to their Senators and Representative.
  • Planning a public interreligious community event for peace.

Sample Press Release

(CITY)'S JEWISH, CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM LEADERS JOIN TOGETHER TO SUPPORT THE ADMINISTRATION AND CONGRESS IN MAKING ARAB-ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE A TOP PRIORITY (or)
LOCAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS JOIN UNPRECEDENTED NATIONWIDE INTERRELIGIOUS INITIATIVE FOR PEACE (or)
INITIATIVE FOR PEACE AIMS TO ACCOMPLISH THE VISION OF A NEGOTIATED TWO-STATE SOLUTION AND COMPREHENSIVE ARAB-ISRAELI PEACE

(DATE) Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders in (city or area) today publicly joined an urgent appeal to Congress supporting the United States making Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations a top priority of U.S. policy. This unique, local interreligious effort is part of an unprecedented nationwide initiative led by more than 35 eminent Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders of national organizations. Together they are working to advocate the moral and political imperative for active, determined U.S. leadership for peace in the Middle East.

The religious leaders believe that U.S. leadership is essential to renewing progress toward the goal of a viable, independent and democratic Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel with peace and security for both peoples. Since its inception the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East has issued numerous appeals to Republican and Democratic Presidents and the Secretaries of State urging strong U.S. leadership. Local religious leaders in U.S. cities throughout the country have endorsed these appeals to the government.

Local endorsers of this initiative, including (LIST LOCAL ENDORSERS), are communicating and encouraging their congregations to communicate with their Senators and Representatives to urge active bi-partisan support for the message of this interreligious effort.

NILI leaders believe the United States has an inescapable responsibility and an indispensable role to provide creative, determined leadership for building a just peace for all in the Middle East. Achieving Arab- Israeli-Palestinian peace will have positive reverberations in the region and around the world.
The leaders also state that military action will not resolve the conflict. The only authentic way forward is a negotiated settlement built on difficult, but realistic, compromises and security arrangements with international guarantees. The path to peace requires a rejection of violence and an embrace of dialogue. Such a path could lead to a future of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace with security and dignity for both peoples and to a future of stability in the region with Israel living in peace and security with its Arab neighbors.

The religious leaders believe the Geneva Accord and other model peace agreements negotiated by prominent Israelis and Palestinians are very important because they help to demonstrate that peace is possible. They offer realistic, compromise solutions to even the toughest issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem.

Launched in December 2003, the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative unites some of the most prominent American religious leaders in support of active, determined U.S. leadership in pursuit of peace. The delegation members believe that both the deepest values of their religious traditions and the urgency of the situation necessitate strong, united interreligious action immediately to mobilize their communities across the country to support U.S. leadership for peace.

The religious leaders believe that "the land that was the birthplace of all three Abrahamic religions can once again become a source of hope, justice and reconciliation for the whole world. Jerusalem can be the city of peace and U.S. leadership is urgently needed to help make it happen."


Please feel free to copy and distribute this material, using the citation:
From The National Interreligious Initiative For Peace In The Middle East
For more information, please contact Ron Young.