In response to the Hamas-Israel War, on August 14, 2014, thirty-three American Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, representing the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East, issued a statement welcoming the ceasefire in Gaza and Israel, mourning the innocent civilians killed, offering prayers for the wounded and families of all the victims of violence, and calling urgently for renewed efforts by the United States and the international community to press for a negotiated two-state peace agreement, the only realistic resolution of the conflict in which both peoples can live in peace, security, and mutual recognition.
Recalling the words of President Obama in Jerusalem, “Peace in necessary…peace is also just…and peace is possible,” the leaders said, “we believe the outline of a possible two-state agreement is widely known. Ideas drawn from previous official and informal negotiations (including) the Taba Agreement (2001), the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), People’s Voice Initiative (2003), Geneva Initiative (2003), and the (unofficial) Israeli Peace Initiative (2011) provide sources for principles and practical ideas to help resolve all the issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem.
At a time when events in the Hamas-Israel war and our different responses pull some in our communities in opposite and conflicting directions, it is especially important that we all are aware of and support this ongoing united interfaith leadership initiative for peace.
Facing today’s challenges in peacemaking, we need to remember a basic principle of cooperation that unites Jews, Christians and Muslims in this interreligious peace initiative.
"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."
E-Mail NILI's statement welcoming the ceasefire, with list of endorsers to your Senators and Representative with a personal note from you.
|To send messages to your Members of Congress, see their e-mail addresses and telephone numbers at: Senators and Representatives.|
|Contact President Obama via email or phone: 202-456-1111.||Contact Secretary of State Kerry via email or phone: 202-647-4000.|
Highlights of our Efforts
- August 14 Statement Welcoming the Ceasefire in Gaza and Israel
- May 20 Letter to Secretary of State Kerry
- February 28 NILI letter to Secretary Kerry and Press Release
- July 25 NILI letter to Secretary Kerry
- April 8 NILI letter to President Obama
- January 25 NILI statement is released declaring "Twilight Has Fallen on Hope for Israeli-Palestinian Peace" and calling for "a bold new initiative for a two-state solution before it's too late."
- March 1 Statement with list of endorsers is released declaring, “Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace Is More Urgent Than Ever.”
- January 31 thirty national religious leaders meet in Washington, DC to consider next steps in efforts for peace in the Middle East. Interreligious leadership delegations meet with Senator Kerry (D-MA), Representative Fortenberry (R-Neb), and Deputy Secretary William Burns.
- May 23-24 Advertisement with Politico, featuring excerpts from the Letter to the President during the visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
- May 20 Letter to President Obama with copies to every member of Congress, endorsed by heads of more than twenty-five Jewish, Christian and Muslim national religious organizations. The religious leaders urged strong, sustained U.S leadership for a two-state solution before it's too late.
- April 14 Letter signed by 33 national Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders urging President Obama
to support an outline for Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace as the focus for urgent peace negotiations.
- April 14 Press Release urges strong Presidential Leadership for Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace.
- September 29 — A delegation of NILI leaders met with National Security Advisor James Jones, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman. That same day, NILI released a statement entitled — New Hope for the Peace of Jerusalem.
- Spring — A small representative NILI leaders delegation met with Under Secretary William Burns, in preparation for a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
- December — A NILI delegation of 15 Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders visited Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. They issued a consensus statement that was widely circulated by national organizations involved in NILI.
- May 2009 — NILI letter to President Obama.
- February 10 — NILI wrote to members of Congress endorsing House Resolution 130 in support of George Mitchell's appointment and active U.S. leadership for peace in the Middle East.
- January — More than 30 Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders, heads of 25 national religious organizations, sent a letter to President Obama supporting his making Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace a high priority from the start of his Presidency and supporting the appointment of George Mitchell as Middle East special envoy. They also urged U.S. support of specific steps to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and to renew momentum in Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Syrian negotiations for peace.
- December — Based on daylong discussions hosted by His Eminence Cardinal McCarrick, Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, heads of more than 25 national organizations, endorsed a new consensus statement A Window Hope for the Peace of Jerusalem, and issued a Press Release. The religious leaders sent a letter to President-Elect Obama, urging him to make Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace an urgent priority from the start of his presidency.
- March 20 — the religious leaders wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rice urging active, determined U.S. support for the diplomatic initiative led by Egypt to achieve a permanent, comprehensive ceasefire covering Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. The letter also urges U.S. support for the formation of a new unified Palestinian government capable of representing Gaza and the West Bank, and committed to rejecting violence and negotiating a two-state solution with Israel.
- January — Following the Annapolis Conference, Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders of NILI wrote a letter to President Bush on January 30, 2008 supporting his commitment to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement by the end of the year and urging several steps they believe are essential to peace.
- January 29 — A delegation of leaders of the National Interreligious Initiative meet with Secretary of State Rice to advocate on behalf of the consensus statement and express support for renewed, active U.S. leadership for comprehensive and just Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace. Following-up this meeting, Under Secretary Burns offers to meet regularly with NILI leaders to continue the dialogue on U.S. efforts for peace and how religious communities can help.
- September — Senate Resolution 321, sponsored by Senators Feinsten, Lugar, Dodd and Hagel, closely parallels the NILI statement in calling for robust U.S. leadership for peace.
- August and November — NILI leaders meet with Under Secretary Burns and present recommendations for the Annapolis Conference. (See 8/17 NILI Press Release and 11/1 Letter to Secretary Rice.)
- September 7 — Cardinal McCarrick hosted 25 leaders of the National Interreligious Initiative at a meeting in Washington, DC, to develop a united, consensus response to the current situation. In December, the consensus statement, Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace: From Crisis to Hope, is endorsed by 37 Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders, including heads of 25 national organizations, and is released and circulated nationwide.
- February — In response to Hamas' victory in Palestinian democratic elections, leaders of the Interreligious Initiative call for a careful response to the situation and urge the President to declare Israeli-Palestinian peace a top priority of U.S. policy, to work for an immediate, lasting ceasefire, to find alternative non-Hamas mechanisms for providing aid to the Palestinian people, and to appoint an on-the-ground envoy to manage and monitor negotiations. The new Appeal to the President is released nationally and in 40 cities, coinciding with a meeting by 25 national Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders with Karen Hughes, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
- November — Leaders of the Interreligious Initiative thank Secretary of State Rice for her hands-on leadership in achieving agreement on opening Gaza and call for restarting negotiations to implement the Road Map. The Initiative mobilizes Congressional support across the country for the Hyde/Capps letter to Secretary Rice along these lines.
- A series of Conference Call Briefings for national and local religious leaders is initiated in
support of interreligious cooperation, starting with a Briefing Call following the Summit between President Abbas and President Bush. Speakers on this call were Ziad Asali, President of the American Task Force on Palestine, and M.J. Rosenberg, Director of the Washington, DC office of the Israel Policy Forum.
- October 26 — A program is hosted at Notre Dame, sponsored by the Kroc Institute for Conflict Resolution, "When Faiths Unite: Religion and U.S. Policy Toward the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," with reflections by Rabbi David Saperstein, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Ron Young on the National Interreligious Initiative.
- June 26 — A transnational video conference (via the Internet) takes place with 50 local U.S.
host sites (more than 3,000 participants) at churches, synagogues and mosques across the country, as well as live audiences in Jerusalem and Washington, DC, and internet sites in Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Jordan and the Netherlands. An approved, updated version of the
national leaders April "Letter to the President" is offered as a model letter for participants at the fifty U.S. host sites, both to send to the President and as a basis for communication with their Senators and Representatives.
- April-June — A Different Future, in cooperation with the Interreligious Initiative, organizes a Town Meeting for Peace (via the internet), with speakers from Jerusalem and Washington, DC, and interfaith gatherings at local host sites nationwide. Intensive contacts with key members of Congress leads to bipartisan "Dear Colleague Letters" initiated by Representative Hyde and Senator Lugar that acknowledge public support and urgency for more active U.S. leadership
- April — Letter to President Bush signed by (now) 38 national religious leaders, supporting Israeli disengagement from Gaza, increased aid to the Palestinian Authority, and the President's call for both sides to fulfill their obligations on the Road Map. Letters to key leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives.
- February — The Office of Social Development and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launches the Catholic Campaign for Peace in the Holy Land in cooperation with the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative. The Campaign "calls on diocesan bishops and Catholic leaders to partner actively with local religious leaders in the Jewish, Muslim and other Christian traditions" guided by the principles and advocacy posture of the Initiative.
- January-March — Meetings with religious leaders in ten more cities, including four in Texas, to form local initiatives.
- January — An Urgent Appeal to the President and Press Release is announced by national religious leaders. Also, Cardinal William Keeler participated in a Press Conference in
Washington, DC. Simultaneously the appeal was endorsed by more than 250 local religious
leaders in fourteen cities. The Appeal is sent by local leaders to their Senators and Representatives. Local, national and international media coverage again is extensive, with Google listing it as the #1 story of the day.
- June-December — Meeting with key Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders in fifteen U.S. cities to form local interreligious initiatives modeled on the National Interreligious Initiative.
- June — Meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Press Conference, again with extensive media coverage.
- January-June — Circulation of "Twelves Urgent Steps for Peace" endorsed by the national religious leaders. Conversations with the White House about a meeting with the President and additional contacts with Congress.
- December — First face-to-face meeting of the Interreligious Initiative national leadership and Press Conference in Washington, DC, led by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, with very good national and international media coverage.
- NILI's public launch generates broad bi-partisan support from key Republican and Democratic members of Congress.
- Peter Steinfels, Religion Editor of The New York Times, devotes his column to the National Interreligious Initiative with the title, Mideast Initiative Pushes Beyond Platitudes.
- September-December — Agreement by consensus among the twenty-five national Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders on Twelve Urgent Steps for Peace in support of the Road Map to Peace. The leaders request a meeting with President Bush.
- June-September — In the Fall of 2003 the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI) is organized by A Different Future, the U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East (founded in 1987), and the United Religions Initiative. NILI receives an initial grant from Nathan Cummings Foundation, and public relations assistance from Ruder Finn. Based on Principles of Cooperation and united support for the Road Map to Peace, 25 national Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders form the unprecedented, high-level Interreligious Initiative for Peace.
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.