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Topic: 3.Church

Holy Land – Religious Leaders Met with US Secretary Rice

Posted by: LWF-Asia on Nov 13, 2007 – 09:09 PM | Read 1039 times

Religious leaders from the Middle East meet Condoleezza Rice For the first time, Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to explain the importance of involving religious leaders in the peace process for the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

Rabbi David Rosen said that this meeting was an important empowerment for the efforts of this newly-formed Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land. "We need this empowerment for our work with justice and peace," he said.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III began the meeting expressing his frustration that the Israeli government has yet to recognize his official status as Patriarch, despite ecclesiastical affirmation which should warrant recognition.

Sheikh Tamimi, the Chief Judge of the Islamic Court, followed with his frustration at Muslim leaders being denied permits for simple worship and his being denied access to important interfaith meetings with the newly Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land attempting to aid the peace process. He also expressed fears that recent excavations at the Temple Mount might be re-started after a cessation due to Muslim objections.

Bishop Younan quoted "how blessed are the feet of those who bring peace." He noted that this new interfaith Council of Religious Institutions was the first initiative of its kind. He said that interfaith dialogue was imperative, but that it must be prophetic and deep, confronting concrete realities such as settlements and draconian movement restrictions. "Extremism must be fought with education, not with bombing and shelling," he said.

He told the Secretary of State about the goals of the Council, which are:
1. To promote respect for holy places of the different faith communities and to combat any expression of disrespect for such by establishing a monitoring office.

2. To promote education for mutual respect and acceptance in the national educational systems and in the media and to support the review of educational materials and changes and additions where appropriate and necessary.

3. To seek to demonstrate through our relations that differences can and should be addressed through dialogue rather than through violence and to strive to bring this message to our respective communities.

4. To encourage respective political leadership to do the utmost to bring a peaceful resolution of the conflict that would lead to a two state solution ending violence, occupation and denial of the other.

Religious leaders from the Middle East meet Condoleezza Rice The Bishop said that the council is discussing substantive issues such as whether the root cause of the conflict is the occupation (the Muslim and Christian view) or Palestinian violence (the Jewish view). They also discussed the importance of a shared Jerusalem where all religions are free to worship without restriction or permit.

The Council is also designed to be a reference group for future peace negotiations, Bishop Younan said, given that one of the reasons the Oslo and other peace agreements have failed is that they failed to take seriously the religious sensitivities of Jerusalem in particular. The group has been invited to Washington for further talks in November.

Secretary of State Rice recalled that having grown up in pre-civil rights Alabama, it would have been inconceivable that she, an African-American, would be Secretary of State. She said that though we must recognize the injustice of the history of this region, the peace agreements from here on must shape the future to regain justice and peace.

(ELCJHL Newsletter)
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