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Leaders call for unity
Historical hatred between brothers has to be resolved to address other social problems, speakers told some 3,000 international, religious, political and community leaders who gathered yesterday to discuss world peace.
“Your theme is right on target — faith, family, freedom and peace centered on God,” former President George H.W. Bush said in a videotaped message to the Common Legacy Breakfast Summit, held in the Wardman Park Marriott Hotel .
“There’s no place for hatred, my brothers and sisters,” said Imam Haitham Bundakji, who tearfully explained how he once persecuted Jews in retaliation for the deaths of his brothers in the Middle East.
Today, Mr. Bundakji works for reconciliation between Jews and Muslims as chairman of the Islamic Center in Orange County, Calif.
“I realized that Jews are my brothers,” he shouted as the audience cheered. “We are sons of Abraham. No more hatred.”
Hundreds of those who attended yesterday’s breakfast are attending related conferences this week sponsored by the American Family Coalition, the American Clergy Leadership Conference and the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace.
The nonprofit Washington Times Foundation, which is separate from the newspaper, also co-sponsored yesterday’s breakfast.
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of News World Communications, the parent company of The Washington Times and United Press International, said that God suffers when his children fight and the “true mission of religion” is to liberate God’s suffering as well as that of humanity and the world.
“Many people think that God will liberate us, but now that we recognize that God’s heart is under confinement, we understand that we should liberate God and bring Him into complete freedom,” said Rev. Moon, who urged American political and ethnic groups to put aside their self-interests and help this country, as an “elder brother” nation, offer selfless leadership and service to other nations.
Ending fratricide was a recurrent theme.
“The Torah — the Bible — begins with a famous question, a sad question: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’” said Rabbi Leonid Feldman, of Temple Beth-El in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Cain killed Abel, and Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, the rabbi said, but “as violent people, sooner or later, have to learn, violence does not work.”
Instead, as the story of Joseph shows, brothers who have wronged each other can be saved if they will humble themselves to God, said Mr. Feldman. “If we want to bring peace, if we want to bring family, we have to bring peace into our families.”
The United States has its fraternal fights, too, said former Sen. Bob Dole, Kansas Republican. In the Civil War, it was blue against gray. Today, some think it’s blue against red, he said.
“I’ve lived long enough to have experienced far greater stresses in the American fabric,” said Mr. Dole, a World War II veteran. “In the heat of war, I saw artificial distinctions melt away: The blood that spilled on foreign battlegrounds came from the sons of farmers and the grandsons of slaves, and it was all the same color.”
“Washington is a town where power is relentlessly pursued, yet even here we acknowledge a higher power to which we must call for an answer,” Mr. Dole said, adding: “This is most emphatically a time to heal.”
President Bush sent welcoming greetings to the participants. “As pastors and community leaders, you are part of the armies of compassion who help to change lives, one heart and one soul at a time. I applaud your dedication and your commitment to serving others. Laura joins me in sending our best wishes,” Mr. Bush said in a letter read by Arizona state Sen. Mark Anderson, a Republican.
Speakers included the Rev. Walter Fauntroy, senior pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the District and former D.C. delegate to Congress; Robin Read Brunelli, president of the National Foundation for Women Legislators; the Rev. Peter Marshall; New York-based clergymen the Rev. Floyd Flake, also a former congressman, and the Rev. Lonnie McLeod; Luis Cortes, president of faith-based Nueva Esperanza Inc., in Philadelphia; the Rev. Helen Fleming of Eastwick, Penn.; and Father Masoud Farid Hatoum of Nazareth, Israel.
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