American Muslims' Interfaith Initiative to Bring Peace in Palestine
By Kaleem Kawaja
Board Member
United Muslims of America


Several major American Muslim organizations led by the Islamic Society of North America have formed a coalition with religious leaders of major US multi-denominational Christian and Jewish religious organizations, to usher peace between Palestinians and Israel. The coalition is called the National Interreligous Leadership Initiative.
On February 28, 2006, a meeting was held to this affect in Washington DC of thirty-six Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders, including heads of 25 national organizations. On that day the coalition launched a new initiative in the form of a nationwide appeal, urging President Bush to make Israeli-Palestinian peace an urgent priority of the US policy in the coming months.
In view of Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian elections, religious leaders wrote a letter to the President saying, "It is more important than ever that Palestinians be assured that the United States, in coordination with the Quartet, will provide consistent and determined leadership for progress toward peace between Palestinians and Israel".
In the letter to the President, religious leaders expressed support for the President's "careful response to the Palestinian democratic election results" and for the US "not acting precipitously to cut off aid to the Palestinian people." While urging the Bush Administration to work immediately "to get the Palestinian Authority and Israel to agree on a lasting ceasefire", they also supported that "Hamas recognize Israel and consistent with the documented views of Palestinian and Israeli majorities, join the international consensus for a two state solution."
The religious leaders held a press conference on the afternoon of February 28 at the National Press Club, Washington DC, and later
met with Karen Hughes, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, US State Department.
The following religious leaders attended the above meetings and endorsed the initiative.

Christian Leaders
His Eminence, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington
John Carr, Dir. Social Development & World Peace, US Conf. of Catholic Bishops
Fr. Constandinos Pavlakos, Representing Greek Orthodox Archdioces in America
Vartkess Valbalian for Bishop Vicken, Armenian Orthodox Church in America
Bishop Ray W. Chamberlain for the Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church
Bishop Allen Barlett, for Presiding Bishop Griswold, Episcopal Church
Maureen Shea, Director of Government Relations, Episcopal Church
Rev. Gareth Icenogle, Pastor, Nat'l Presbyterian Church, for Mainline Evangelicals
Rev. Dennis Frado for Bishop Hanson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Catherine Gordon for Rev. Cliff Kirpatrick, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rev. Chris Hobgood, Past President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. John Deckenback for Rev. John Thomas, President, United Church of Christ

Jewish Leaders
Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Exe. Vice President Emeritus, Central Conference of America
Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman, Vice President, A Different Future
Mark Pelavin, Associate Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Brett Isserow, Beth El Hebrew Congregation, Alexandria, VA

Muslim Leaders
Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, Secretary General, Islamic Society of North America
Eide Alawan, Liaison for Imam Hassan Qazwini, Islamic Center of America, Detroit
Dawud Assad, Preident Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA
Kaleem Kawaja, Board Member, United Muslims of America
Imam Yahya Hendi, Chaplain, Georgetown University

National Co-Coordinators
US Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East
Dr. Bruce E. Wexler
Ronald J. Young.

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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