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Seeking Peace, Pursuing Justice

Seek peace...and pursue it : Psalm 34:15

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I.ARTICLES & SPEECHES

Jewish, Christian and Muslim Leaders Pray for All Victims of the War, Express Concerns Over Possible Consequences, and Renew A Call for Active U.S. Efforts for Peace in the Middle East

March 21, 2003 -- Now that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has begun, we are concerned for U.S. and British service personnel and for the Iraqi people who already have suffered so much. We pray for the shortest war and fewest casualties possible. Once the war is over, we renew our call for urgent U.S-led efforts for peace between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states.

We share the concern cautiously expressed by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan that "with some more perseverance, this crisis might have been resolved peacefully;" and we also agree with him that, despite strong divisions of opinion, now is the time for people and nations to unite in mobilizing humanitarian relief to help "shield Iraqi civilians from the grim consequences of war."

We are concerned that this war not permanently undermine the Security Council’s role and not set precedent for preemptive war in the future. Eliminating Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction is a step toward a Middle East zone free of such weapons, in the context of comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace.

We are concerned that many consequences of this war are unpredictable. We fear that possible negative effects might include undermining global cooperation essential to preventing terrorism, increased anti-Americanism, especially in Arab and Muslim countries, possible new terrorist attacks on the U.S., and greater government assaults on civil liberties here at home.

We are concerned that reconstruction and democratization of Iraqi society, to which the U.S. is rightly committed, will present complex and daunting challenges. While the Bush Administration did not get U.N. endorsement for going to war, we believe it is essential that future Iraqi reconstruction and democratization be developed with broad involvement of the international community.

We are concerned that abandonment of active efforts for Middle East peace during the last two years has compounded the suffering and loss of hope among Israelis and Palestinians. The Committee has consistently advocated that peace between Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states should be the highest priority of U.S. Middle East policy. We believe it is imperative as quickly as possible as the war in Iraq ends that the United States, working with the EEU, Russia and the U.N. Secretary General, press ahead with the Quartet’s Roadmap for peace in the Middle East.

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The U.S. Interreligious Committee for Peace in the Middle East, founded in 1987, represents 2,500 American Jews, Christians and Muslims, including prominent national leaders of all three communities.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:Ron Young at 360.652.4285 or USICPME@aol.com.