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Trip to Israel and Palestine showed 'Christians
and Jews can work together to achieve peace'
New York, September 23, 2005 -- Sixteen Jewish and Christian leaders returned today from a week-long trip to Israel and Palestine September 18-23 with members expressing the conviction that "we have demonstrated that Christians and Jews can work together to seek peace even when there is disagreement on specific policies and solutions."
"As a result of these days," delegation members said, "we will now be even more effective advocates for a secure, viable and independent Palestinian state alongside an equally secure State of Israel, affirming the historic links that both the Jewish People and the Palestinian People have to the land."
Delegation members returned promising "to mobilize each of our communities of faith ... in a concerted effort to bring reconciliation and peace to Israelis and Palestinians alike."
"That Jewish and Christian leaders representing their denominations and organizations are going on this trip together is in itself a significant statement of trust and hope," said Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, National Council of Churches USA Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations, said when the journey began.
“Many of us have been there before and have seen the realities on the ground and met people who are suffering as well as the religious and political dignitaries. The difference this time is that we are hoping to see and hear with the eyes and ears of the other, those same realities and voices. We are hopeful that the trip will help transform us and our dialogue table.”
Christian and Jewish leaders who made the journey are:
Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, Director of Interfaith Affairs of the Anti-Defamation League; Vidette Bullock Mixon, Director, Corporate Relations, General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, United Methodist Church; Dr. David Elcott, U.S. Director, Interreligious Affairs of The American Jewish Committee; Ethan Felson, Director, Domestic Concerns of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Richard Foltin, Legislative Director and Counsel of The American Jewish Committee; Dennis Frado, Director, Lutheran Office for World Community, Evangelical Lutheran Church In America; Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, Director, Peace & Justice Ministries, The Episcopal Church; and Dr. Darrell H. Jodock, Chair, Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations, Evangelical Lutheran Church In America.
Also, Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn, Director of Jewish Affairs of The American Jewish Congress; Dr. Peter Makari, Executive for the Middle East and Europe of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations, National Council of Church; Rev. John E. Roberts, Alliance of Baptists; Rev. Dr. Jay Rock, Coordinator for Interfaith Relations, Presbyterian Church (USA); Emily Soloff, Executive Director, Chicago Chapter of The American Jewish Committee; Mark Waldman, Director of Public Policy, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; and Jim Winkler, General Secretary, General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church.
The full text of the delegations' statement follows:
JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN LEADERS on mission OF PEACE to Jerusalem
Leaders of the mainline Christian and Jewish communities of the United States have been working for over a year constructively to address issues that concern the two communities, of which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is among the most serious. Standing on the rich tradition of working together to address questions of social justice, sixteen of these leaders representing eight Christian denominations and national organizations and six national Jewish organizations and religious movements spent the past five days together in this land that is holy to all Abrahamic faiths.
We came to see and we came to listen – and to try to understand the human dimensions of an unholy situation in a land most holy. We each encountered the voices of individuals, organizations and officials that we had never heard before. In session after session, we confronted the realities on the ground and gained new understandings of, and an appreciation for, the deep complexities of the conflicts that consume Israelis, Palestinians and us alike.
As representatives of mainline Christian Churches and the American Jewish community, we have demonstrated that Christians and Jews can work together to seek peace even when there is disagreement on specific policies and solutions. As a result of these days, we will now be even more effective advocates for a secure, viable and independent Palestinian state alongside an equally secure State of Israel, affirming the historic links that both the Jewish People and the Palestinian People have to the land.
Upon our return, we are committed to:
A trip that started from many different places has brought us closer together in hope and faith. While there were many difficult moments, our trust in each other deepened. We sustain hope and faith in each other as agents of peace. We affirm hope and faith in our two religious communities as partners and advocates for a two-state solution. We also have a renewed hope and faith in the future of this holy land and these two peoples.
On this day, we together affirm our partnership with God in bringing about justice, compassion and peace.
The Jewish and Protestant leaders who made this journey represent the Alliance of Baptists, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, National Council of Churches of Christ, Presbyterian Church (USA), Religious Action Center of the Union of Reform Judaism, United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
Click here for the delegation's pre-trip statement.
Picture: Jewish leaders led the delegation in a Prayer Walk through several holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Contact NCC News, Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2252
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