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Peace Not Walls

Jewish, Christian and Muslim Leaders United In Support of Secretary of State Kerry’s Peace Initiative

NEWSPeace-is-PossibleIn a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry this week, thirty key Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders “voiced strong support for his determined initiative for Israeli-Palestinian peace.”  In similar letters, the leaders called on key members of Congress “to support Secretary Kerry’s continuing urgent efforts for peace.”

The group, including ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, represented The National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for the Middle East.  Inspired by the Abrahamic traditions,  a similar group met in January, 2013, declaring “twilight has fallen on hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace.”  They called for “a bold new initiative for a two-state solution before it’s too late.”

The religious leaders warmly welcomed Secretary Kerry’s announcement a week ago of an agreement “that establishes the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” Appreciating the progress made in earlier formal and informal negotiations toward resolving final status issues, the religious leaders noted that “while these talks have yet to yield a blueprint for peace, they have identified ideas for addressing key issues that must be resolved in a manner acceptable to both sides.”

The Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders offered their prayers for Secretary Kerry’s efforts and pledged that they “are prepared through the national organizations we represent to activate members of synagogues, churches and mosques across the country to support bold American leadership for peace.”

“We know the path to peace is complex and challenging,” the leaders said, “but peace is possible.”

Read the full letters below:


Recent Announced Expansion of Gilo Settlement Shows Larger Plan

The recent expansion of the Gilo settlement is part of a larger plan to encircle Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements.


The recent 1100-unit expansion announced for the south of the Gilo settlement – on the heels of the US and Quartet plea to resume negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis and that neither side should carry out provocative actions – reveals yet another chapter of the expansive illegal settlement enterprise surrounding Jerusalem.


See for more on the status of Jerusalem, click the photo for a presentation specifically about the Mordot Gilo South expansion.

“Budrus” film shown free online Wednesday night Sept 21

The award-winning documentary “Budrus” will be made available for free online for 24 hours at on September 21st, the International Day of Peace, accessible by anyone living in the US.

Budrus is an award-winning feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines.  Struggling side by side, father and daughter lead the local non-violent movement that wins a small victory, evidence of the strong and growing Palestinian non-violent movement.

Palestinian leaders are calling for non-violent protests Friday when Palestinian President Abbas is expected to present a bid for statehood  to the UN.  The IDF has been working with settlers and arming them with stun grenades and tear gas in preparation.   Some settlers are reportedly preparing to take the initiative and march on Palestinian towns   

We pray for this to be a peaceful time that moves the peace process forward and breaks the stalemate in the situation.

ELCA Presiding Bishop Joins Interfaith Call for Middle East Peace

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and 32 Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders, said in a letter that a new peace initiative by former Israeli government, intelligence and security officials offers a useful sign for Middle East peace. The leaders, writing as the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), sent the letter to President Obama April 14.

Speaking of the latest Israeli initiative, as well as the Arab Peace Initiative and the Geneva Accord, the leaders said:  “The main elements of these peace initiatives reflect years of official and informal, unofficial negotiations,” the religious leaders wrote. They wrote that “the peace initiatives include creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, based on the 1967 borders with possible limited land swaps as mutually agreed; a fair negotiated resolution of the issue of refugees that does not threaten the demography of Israel; the sharing of Jerusalem by Israel and the Palestinian state with both having their capitals in the city; and Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights as part of a peace agreement with Syria.”

NILI is an initiative composed of a broad range of Jewish, Christian and Muslim national organizations in support of a common, substantive message for Middle East peace.  It’s focus is on building support for strong U.S. leadership for a two-state solution to the conflict that brings security and recognition to Israel and establishes a viable and independent state for the Palestinians—two states living side by side in peace and security—with peace agreements between Israel and all her Arab neighbors.