- The Washington Times - Monday, June 27, 2005

Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders in the United States, the Middle East, London and South America appealed in a “transnational town-hall meeting” yesterday for religious moderates and President Bush to stop the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

“We all know that violence is not the way to achieve anything,” said Rania Kharma, coordinator of World Bank emergency services, speaking from the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem.

Listening and watching on the Internet in the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in the District were scores of religious adults, including Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders who were captured on video with similar comments.

“Let us work together for peace in the Middle East,” said Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University.

“There is no such thing as a solitary religion,” said Leighton Ford, former associate of Rev. Billy Graham and president of Leighton Ford Ministries.

The Bush administration should focus on the crisis in the Middle East and put it on the front burner, said Rabbi Paul Menitoff, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

“The president of the United States has to be there. The president of the United States has to bring the leaders to the table,” Rabbi Menitoff said. “How many Israelis and how many Palestinians will have to die in the interim?”

Dan Rather, “60 Minutes” correspondent and former CBS news anchor, was a moderator for the 90-minute program going out to churches, synagogues and mosques in the Middle East, South America, Australia, London and the Netherlands and in 50 U.S. cities.

The speakers agreed that wars are anti-religious and are carried on by extremists. They appealed to religious moderates to express themselves and speak out for peace and against wars.

“We need to monitor justice among people, for all people,” said Sheikh Imad Falouji, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. “There are people who use religion for killing. There are people who use religion to occupy other lands.”

In Jerusalem, Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al Quds University, said yesterday’s transnational meeting was a marvelous surprise. More similar meetings in the future provide hope for peace in the future, he said.

The event was organized by Bruce Wexler, Yale University professor of psychiatry, who two years ago founded A Different Future, a nonpartisan group that promotes peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Participating in the organization was the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East.


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