Peace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/ELCA presiding bishop visits companion church in the Holy LandPeace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/228http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/228<div class="ExternalClassA6F4C8DB3C9C4F3EB4163BCD83CDCFD1"><p></p><p><em>Text from ELCA News Service</em></p><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">CHICAGO (ELCA) –</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;In her first visit to the Middle East as presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton led a delegation Jan. 11-17 to meet with leaders and members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land – a companion church of the ELCA. The delegation also met with political and religious leaders, including a meeting with the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.</span></p><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; The ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) are member churches of The Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of 144 churches representing more than 70 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.</span></p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; During their visit, the delegation met with students of the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour and Dar Al-Kalima Lutheran School in Bethlehem. The school and educational programs of the ELCJHL employ nearly 200 educators, administrators, social workers and others, and nearly all faculty and staff are Palestinians from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jerusalem and elsewhere. The delegation visited Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, and they toured the Environmental Education Center in Beit Jala, a ministry of the ELCJHL, to learn more about the denomination's special ecological projects.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The impact of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land upon the lives of all people in the region is out of proportion to its size. This relatively small church does enormous work in education, humanitarian aid, environmental study, advocacy, ecumenical and inter- religious relations and peacemaking all while dealing with the difficult and ever present reality of the Israeli occupation,&quot; said Eaton.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;This land has a unique beauty&#58; green and gentle in Galilee, severe and barren in the mountains and hills around Jerusalem and the West Bank. It wasn't what I expected the first time I saw it. It made me aware of all of the preconceptions I bring with me to this place. That is a dangerous thing to do,&quot; she said. This trip marks Eaton's third visit to the Middle East, first as ELCA presiding bishop.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The delegation visited the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and also toured Augusta Victoria Hospital, a ministry of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The hospital offers the only cancer facility for residents of the West Bank and Gaza, and it employs more than 300 people. The hospital was founded in 1950. Dr. Tawfiq Nasser, the hospital's chief executive officer, and the Rev. Mark Brown, LWF regional representative in Jerusalem, accompanied Eaton on the hospital tour.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Augusta Victoria Hospital is a vital ministry&quot; said Eaton. &quot;It is something that The Lutheran World Federation and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are committed to supporting, have been, are now and always will be.&quot;</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We were very honored by the visit of Bishop Eaton and her delegation,&quot; said the Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the ELCJHL and president of The Lutheran World Federation.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We arranged a program where she could meet all concerned parties, all ecumenical parties, representatives from all of the Abrahamic faiths, and the work of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and The Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem. Through her visit, this accompaniment relationship that started in 1988 was strengthened even more. It has helped us to see that we both in the ELCJHL and ELCA have been called together for a common mission for the love of God in the Middle East and the United States,&quot; said Younan.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA delegation met with representatives of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land – established in 2005 to ensure the ongoing engagement of the leadership and representation of the official religious institutions of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith communities in the Holy Land.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In addition to the council, the delegation met with Patriarch Theophilos III, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem; Patriarch Fouad Twal, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; and Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, Patriarch of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton and others from her delegation met with Palestinian Authority officials, the mayor of Bethlehem, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, Israeli deputy foreign minister officials, the U.S. Consul General and others.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton addressed a gathering of ELCJHL pastors and the denomination's Church Council. The relationship between the ELCJHL and ELCA &quot;is deeply important to us,&quot; she said, adding that she sees hope for the land through the ministries of ELCJHL. &quot;When I think of people, Christian brothers and sisters, who are in situations that seem hopeless and they have hope, they give me hope. This church is a source of hope for me when I think there can be no hope,&quot; she said.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Images of the ELCA delegation's visit are available at&#160;<a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Living-Lutheran/Photos">http&#58;//www.elca.org/Living-Lutheran/Photos</a>.</p><p><strong>Renewing efforts for a two-state peace agreement</strong></p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a Jan. 21 letter to President Obama, members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East urged the president – in coordination with the Quartet (the United Nations, United States, the European Union and Russia) – to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to renew efforts and achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement &quot;before it is too late.&quot; Eaton is among the Christian, Jewish and Muslim endorsers of the letter.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In their letter, the religious leaders wrote that &quot;the Gaza war demonstrated once again that there is no military solution to the conflict&quot; and &quot;given developments on the ground, including dangerous new violent clashes in Jerusalem, simply urging the parties to return to negotiations is no longer sufficient.&quot;</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The leaders said that &quot;the outline for a two-state peace agreement is widely known and would likely be accepted by majorities of Israelis and Palestinians if presented by their leaders as the only viable alternative to more violence and war.&quot;</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The leaders urged the president to authorize U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry – coordinating with the Quartet and &quot;drawing on internationally accepted principles and practical ideas from previous official and informal negotiations&quot; – to offer a balanced and fair framework to the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as the basis for negotiating a two-state peace agreement to end conflict. Religious leaders also offered to meet with Kerry to discuss ways they can be helpful.</p><p><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/7721">Text from ELCA News Release</a></p><p>&#160;</p><p><br></p></div>01/28/2015Religious Leaders Urge the United States, in Coordination with the Quartet, To Present a Framework for Negotiating a Two-State Peace AgreementPeace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/229http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/229<div class="ExternalClassB6B609EB27CE4666B8BB335D6837772C"><p><em>​Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders of twenty-five national religious organizations delivered a letter to President Obama on January 21, 2015&#160;urging &quot;a renewed, determined U.S. effort, in coordination with the Quartet, to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement before it is too late.&quot; The complete text of the letter follows.</em><strong>&#160; &#160; &#160;</strong></p><p>Dear Mr. President,</p><p>Appreciating the several current conflicts and different challenges each presents for U.S. leadership in the global arena, as members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), we write to urge a renewed, determined U.S. effort, in coordination with the Quartet, to work with Israel and Palestinian Authority to achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement before it is too late.</p><p>The extended ceasefire following the most recent Gaza war presents an opportunity for a new international initiative for peace. This war demonstrated once again that there is no military solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If there is no peace agreement, there is a risk of more unilateral actions and more violence that may lead at some point to another war, and, tragically, to more casualties on both sides.&#160; With the region currently in greater turmoil than in the recent past, renewed violence would contribute to more acute instability.</p><p>Political leaders on both sides are exploring or already engaging in unilateral diplomatic initiatives that they think could advance their cause.&#160; The problem is that the starting points for each side are almost certainly unacceptable to the other side.&#160; After nine months of direct negotiations, Israeli and Palestinian leaders were unable to reach agreement on a framework for peace. Given current developments on the ground, including dangerous new violent clashes in Jerusalem, simply urging the parties to return to negotiations is no longer sufficient.</p><p>We believe the outline for a two-state peace agreement is widely known and would likely be accepted by majorities of Israelis and Palestinians if presented by their leaders as the only viable alternative to more violence and war. UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, the Taba Agreement (2001), the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), People's Voice Initiative (2003), the Geneva Initiative (2003), and the (unofficial) Israeli Peace Initiative (2011), taken together, provide practical and reasonable ideas for resolving all the issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees, and the future of Jerusalem.</p><p>While time is running out for a workable two-state solution, it remains the most realistic resolution of the conflict in which both peoples can live in peace, security, and mutual recognition.&#160; With people on both sides looking for a positive political horizon after last summer's war, we believe now is the time for the United States and the international community to work with the parties to launch a new, even more determined initiative for Israeli-Palestinian peace. We are united in urging you to authorize Secretary of State Kerry, coordinating with the Quartet and drawing on internationally accepted principles and practical ideas from previous official and informal negotiations, to offer a balanced and fair framework to the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as the basis for negotiating a two-state peace agreement to end the conflict.</p><p>Active, fair and firm U.S. leadership in such a bold peace initiative will require strong, public support, especially from religious communities. We pledge to mobilize support from our members in synagogues, churches and mosques across the country, and we would appreciate an early opportunity to meet with Secretary Kerry to discuss specific ways that we as religious leaders can help.</p><p>CC&#58; Secretary of State John Kerry</p><p><br></p><p><strong>List of Endorsers follows</strong></p><p><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Christian Leaders&#58;</strong></span></p><p>Bishop Oscar Cantú, Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,&#160;<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Committee on International Justice and Peace</span></p><p>Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington </p><p>Archbishop Vicken Aykasian, Director, Ecumenical Affairs, Armenian Orthodox Church in America</p><p>Jim Winkler, President/General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ USA</p><p>Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., President, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church</p><p>The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</p><p>Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church</p><p>Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)</p><p>Reverend Geoffrey Black, General Minister &amp; President, United Church of Christ</p><p>Reverend Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)</p><p>Reverend Leighton Ford, President, Leighton Ford Ministries, Board Member, World Vision US</p><p>David Neff, Editorial Vice-President (Retired), Christianity Today</p><p>John M. Buchanan, Editor and Publisher, Christian Century​</p><p><br></p><p><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Jewish Leaders&#58;</strong></span></p><p>Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union of Reform Judaism</p><p>Rabbi Rick Block, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism</p><p>Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D. Rector and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, American Jewish University </p><p>Rabbi Burt Visotzky, Jewish Theological Seminary</p><p>Rabbi Jason Klein, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association</p><p>Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College</p><p>Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association</p><p>Rabbi Peter Knobel, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President Emeritus, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman, Rabbi Emeritus, The Temple, Atlanta Georgia</p><p>&#160;</p><p><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Muslim Leaders&#58;</strong></span></p><p>Imam Mohammed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America</p><p>Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America</p><p>Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder of the ASMA Society and Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative</p><p>Dawud Assad, President Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA</p><p>Imam Yahya Hendi, Founder and President, Clergy Beyond Borders</p><p>Eide Alawan, Interfaith Office for Outreach, Islamic Center of America </p><p>Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance</p><p>&#160;</p><p>*Organizations for Identification Only</p></div>01/28/2015ELCA presiding bishop says land occupation is counter-productive to peace, two-state solutionPeace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/227http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/227<div class="ExternalClass709B464195554E6688281E6EBF8A3EC6"><p><em>Text from ELCA news release&#58;</em></p><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), commended the Obama administration for urging the Israeli government to &quot;reverse its recent declaration as 'state land' the estimated 988 acres in the Gush Etzion Jewish settlement bloc in the occupied West Bank.&quot;</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; As a denomination that &quot;calls for a cessation of all settlement activities and withdrawal from settlements on Palestinian territory to the 1967 boundaries,&quot; Eaton expressed hope that the administration &quot;will continue to pursue this reversal.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In her Oct. 22 letter to the U.S. president, Eaton noted that she shares the administration's concern regarding the Israeli government's &quot;reportedly recent move to advance the settlement planning process in the sensitive area of Givat Hamatos in East Jerusalem.&quot; She said the plan for the new neighborhood &quot;would cut the territorial continuity between the Palestinian neighborhoods in South Jerusalem and the future Palestinian state.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton also mentioned the recent occupation of six residential buildings in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem. This occupation &quot;is a provocative act that only serves to escalate tensions at a moment when those tensions have been high,&quot; Eaton wrote. &quot;This new occupation, the largest since 1991, could expand the settler presence by about 35 percent from the number of settlers currently in the area.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;It is deeply distressing to us that these kinds of action, which seek to create new 'facts on the ground,' continue unabated,&quot; Eaton wrote. &quot;Along with Jewish organizations like Peace Now and B'Tselem, we fully agree with your administration that such actions are counter-productive to achieving a comprehensive and sustainable peace based upon a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, where international human rights and humanitarian law are respected and upheld. … such actions reinforce despondency among the Palestinian people, limiting optimism that a political solution will be found.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton urged Obama to call all involved in the conflict to refrain from violent or provocative actions that &quot;could lead to more casualties and further exacerbate the existing barriers toward a return to negotiations and a just final status agreement that results in two viable, secure states living side-by-side in peace.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Grounded in hope, &quot;we pray that the current truce, following the recent war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, will hold so that hope might begin to be restored,&quot; the ELCA presiding bishop wrote, adding that it is imperative that, with the help of the international community, both Palestinians and Israeli leaders return to negotiations to &quot;identify and constructively address the underlying causes of continued tension, so that God's peace and justice will prevail.&quot;</p><p><a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/ELCA_Letter_to_President_Obama_on_Israel_and_Palestine.pdf">Full text of Bishop Eaton's letter</a></p><p><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/7704">Full text of ELCA News Release</a></p><p><br></p><p></p></div>10/24/2014The Patriarchs of the East – “Religious Extremism is a Major Threat for The Area and The Whole World”Peace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/226http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/226<div class="ExternalClass49511C6FBE1649BF8F749EAEC5BCE238"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">The Patriarc</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">hs of the East published a press release condemning conflicts and violence which overwhelm the Middle East, and most particularly the persecution of innocents and Christians. The religious fundamentalism, and those who feed it through financing its armed movements, affecting the balance and stability in the region, is unequivocally denounced. The Patriarchs therefore send forth an urgent plea to the international community. (Text from the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation)</span></p><p><a href="http&#58;//hcef.org/publications/hcef-news/790793990-the-patriarchs-of-the-east-religious-extremism-is-a-major-threat-for-the-area-and-the-whole-world">Click here for the text of the statement&#160;</a>​</p></div>08/26/2014Faith-Based Organizations Call for an End to Iraq ViolencePeace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/225http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/225<div class="ExternalClass46411CD842874F33A8F1B7FB35C4081E"><p>​Find below the August 22, 2014&#160;<a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranworld.org/news/faith-based-organizations-call-end-iraq-violence">press release</a> from the Lutheran World Federation.</p><p><strong>“Concerned and Saddened by Kidnapping and Hostage-taking”</strong></p><p><em>(LWI)</em> - The LWF together with ten faith-based humanitarian and development organizations has issued an “urgent call to stop the horrific suffering” in Iraq.</p><p>“The untold suffering of minority groups as a result of escalating violence and attacks is unacceptable and the violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws is despicable,” the letter signed by Christian and Muslim organizations says.</p><p>“We are utterly shocked at the horrific wave of attacks that has so far led to the killing of many and left hundreds of thousands more homeless, desperate and in flight. We are further concerned and saddened by the many cases of kidnapping and hostage-taking of people, including women and children,” the statement further reads.</p><p>Together with ACT Alliance members, the statement has been signed by among others Islamic Relief, Muslim Aid, Muslim Charities Forum CAFOD and the Human Relief Foundation.</p><p>According to data from the United Nations, about one million people have been displaced by violence and insecurity since the beginning of the year. The militant group Islamic State (IS) is especially targeting minorities such as Yazidis and Christians. The LWF together with partners from the ACT Alliance has started emergency assistance to internally displaced persons (IDP) in the Ninive valley close to the contested city of Mosul.</p><p>“The magnitude at which Islamic State militants are operating is absolutely terrifying and we deplore their actions in the deliberate targeting of civilians,” Michael Hyden, Humanitarian Coordinator for the LWF Department of World Service (DWS) said.</p><p>&#160;“Together with our partners Christian Aid Program in Iraq (CAPNI) we are assessing how best we can assist the affected population in Duhok governate,” Hyden added. According to official government data, the total number of IDP in this governorate alone is 462,270 as of 18 August 2014.</p><p>The signatories also stress the need to protect civilians and apply international law. “We are appealing for the protection of all people, including persecuted religious minorities such as the Yazidis and Christians – hundreds of thousands who have fled in fear for their lives,” Hyden said.</p><p>The organizations call for a lasting solution for peace, reconciliation and justice for all in the region.</p> <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranworld.org/sites/default/files/An_Urgent_Call_to_Stop_the_Horrific_Suffering_in_Iraq.pdf">Click here for the statement</a><div><br></div><div><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranworld.org/blog/people-are-scattered-everywhere">Click here for the LWF Response Team Report</a></div><div><br></div><div><a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranworld.org/news?keys=&amp;date_filter%5bvalue%5d%5bdate%5d=&amp;field_tags_tid%5b%5d=886">Click here for more Response News​</a></div></div>08/22/2014Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders Welcome Ceasefire; Call Urgently for a Two-State Peace AgreementPeace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/224http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/224<div class="ExternalClass60694BF3D0934C839333B17794C5322E"><p></p><p>​Below is the&#160;<a href="http&#58;//www.nili-mideastpeace.org/">National Interreligious Leadership Initiative</a>&#160;for Peace in the Middle East statement&#160;<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">welcoming the ceasefire in Israel and Gaza,&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">with endorsements&#160;by thirty-three national Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">​.</span></p><p><br></p><p>A<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">u</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">gust 14, 2014</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;</span><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;</strong><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;</strong><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders Welcome Ceasefire;</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Call Urgently for Renewed Negotiations for a Two-State Peace Agreement</strong></p><p>As leaders of American Jewish, Christian, and Muslim national religious organizations, united in the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), we welcome the ceasefire agreement of Israel and Hamas, and the negotiations to make it permanent.&#160; We were appalled by the kidnappings and murders of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers. We believe the loss of even one human life is a tragedy that grieves God. &#160;In the recent weeks of war between Hamas and Israel, we mourn the innocent civilians killed. &#160;We offer our prayers as well for the wounded and for the families of all the victims of violence.&#160;</p><p>&#160;This tragic escalation of violence demonstrates once again that there is no such thing as a stable status-quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ideas being promoted in some circles for returning to the previous status quo or managing the conflict are dangerous.&#160; Acknowledging the recent failed negotiations, we call on Israeli and Palestinian political leaders to renew negotiations to achieve a two-state peace agreement, the only realistic resolution of the conflict in which both people can live in peace, security, and mutual recognition. The crucial choice leaders on both sides face now is between negotiating a two-state peace agreement with a new sense of urgency or condemning Palestinian and Israeli children and youth to continued conflict -- more violence, more suffering, and more deaths.</p><p style="text-align&#58;justify;">​We strongly supported Secretary of State Kerry's efforts to achieve a negotiated peace agreement, and urge the United States to renew efforts to reach a two-state agreement as soon as possible.&#160; Recalling President Obama's words in Jerusalem, &quot;Peace is necessary...peace is also just…and peace is possible,&quot; we believe the outline of a possible two-state agreement is widely known, including ideas drawn from previous official and informal negotiations for fair, realistic compromises.&#160; While none of the previous plans present a complete outline, the Taba Agreement (2000), the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), People's Voice Initiative (2003), Geneva Accord (2003), and the (unofficial) Israeli Peace Initiative (2011) are sources for principled and practical ideas to help resolve all the issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem.</p><p>It is more urgent than ever that the United States and the international community press for a two-state peace agreement. While appreciating that maintaining a sustainable ceasefire is now the priority, we would welcome an early opportunity to meet with Secretary of State Kerry to discuss how we can assist with renewed U.S. efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement. We pledge to mobilize active public support from members of synagogues, churches and mosques across the country for active, fair and determined U.S. leadership for peace.</p><p><strong>List of Endorsers follows.</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>NILI Statement Welcoming the Ceasefire</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>In Israel and Gaza - August 2014</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>List of Endorsers</strong></p><p><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Christian Leaders&#58;</strong></span></p><p>Bishop Richard E. Pates, Chairman, USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace</p><p>Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington</p><p>Archbishop Vicken Aykasian, Director, Ecumenical Affairs, Armenian Orthodox Church in America</p><p>Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides, Ecumenical Officer, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America</p><p>Jim Winkler, President/General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ USA</p><p>The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</p><p>Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., President, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church</p><p>Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church</p><p>Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)</p><p>Reverend Geoffrey Black, General Minister &amp; President, United Church of Christ</p><p>Reverend Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)</p><p>Reverend Leighton Ford, President, Leighton Ford Ministries, Board Member, World Vision US</p><p>David Neff, former Editorial Vice-President, Christianity Today</p><p>John M. Buchanan, Editor and Publisher, Christian Century</p><p><br></p><p><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Jewish Leaders&#58;</strong></span></p><p>Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union of Reform Judaism</p><p>Rabbi Rick Block, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi Steven A. Fox, Chief Executive Officer, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism</p><p>Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D. Rector and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, American Jewish University</p><p>Rabbi Burt Visotzky, Jewish Theological Seminary</p><p>Rabbi Jason Klein, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association</p><p>Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College</p><p>Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association</p><p>Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi Peter Knobel, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President Emeritus, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman, Rabbi Emeritus, The Temple, Atlanta Georgia</p><p>&#160;</p><p><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Muslim Leaders&#58;</strong></span></p><p>Imam Mohammed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America</p><p>Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America</p><p>Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder of the ASMA Society and Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative</p><p>Dawud Assad, President Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA</p><p>Imam Yahya Hendi, Founder and President, Clergy Beyond Borders</p><p>Eide Alawan, Interfaith Office for Outreach, Islamic Center of America</p><p>Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance</p><p>*Organizations for Identification Only</p><p><strong></strong></p><p><strong>​For More Information Contact&#58;&#160;<strong>&#160;</strong><strong>Ron Young&#160;(425) 327-7545</strong><strong>&#160;</strong>​</strong><strong>&#160;(<strong style="text-align&#58;center;">usicpme@aol.com</strong>)​</strong></p></div>08/19/2014