Jewish, Christian Leaders Conclude Mission of Peace to Jerusalem

September 25, 2005 – New York – A group of Christian and Jewish leaders have concluded a   day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, declaring in a joint statement, “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.”

 

David Elcott, the American Jewish Committee’s U.S. director of interreligious affairs, was a principal organizer of the trip, which brought to Jerusalem for five days seventeen senior leaders representing eight Christian denominations and national organizations and six national Jewish organizations and religious movements.

 

The full text of the joint statement follows:

 

Leaders of the mainline Protestant 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 Protestant 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:

 

  • Deepen our engagement with each other and expand the number of Jews and Protestants committed to interfaith dialogue on the local level as advocates for peace.
  • Mobilize each of our communities of faith across the United States in a concerted effort to bring reconciliation and peace to Israelis and Palestinians alike.
  • Together, we seek to mobilize elected officials and our American fellow citizens on behalf of a negotiated peace settlement. 
  • Effectively support those Palestinians and Israelis who are courageously working for reconciliation and a two-state solution with concrete actions that will help sustain their work.

 

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, and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

 

 

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