From the Worldwide Faith News archives

WCC - Jesse Jackson emphasizes need to encourage hope for

From "Sheila Mesa" <>
Date Mon, 24 Jun 2002 18:16:44 +0200

peace in the Middle East

World Council of Churches
Press Release, PR-02-16
For Immediate Use
24 June 2002

On visit to WCC, Jackson emphasizes need to encourage hope for
peace in the Middle East

The Rev. Dr Jesse Jackson, on a visit today to the Geneva
offices of the World Council of Churches (WCC), met with WCC
general secretary Konrad Raiser for an exchange of views about an
interreligious initiative on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 
Jackson's proposed initiative hopes to mobilize religious leaders
in advocating active non-violent approaches to peace, justice,
and reconciliation in the region.  To this effect, a visit of a
delegation of Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders to Palestine
and Israel is being considered.  

Jackson is seeking ways to bring religious and other leaders to
break the current state of what he calls "political paralysis" in
Washington, D.C. and other capitals.  The Palestinian and the
Israeli peoples, both victims of violence, are locked in a "death
grip" on each other.  We must do something urgently to help them
loosen that grip and step back to be able to see the humanity in
the other, Jackson said.  We cannot simply stand by and watch. 
Both need our help.  International action is needed now more than
ever before, since neither side can free itself alone.  

Expressing his appreciation for the WCC's important role as a
world ecumenical organization, Jackson said that he did not want
to pursue his own initiative further without first learning more
about the Council's thinking and present strategy in the region. 
In responding, Raiser emphasized that the WCC approach builds
first and foremost on the witness of the local churches in
Jerusalem and Palestine to promote an end to violence and
occupation.  Despite the efforts by the thirteen heads of
churches and Christian communities of Jerusalem to speak to these
issues, few people around the world have seen and even fewer
heeded their statements and urgent appeals, Raiser said. 

Jackson called for the formation of a "third force", led by
religious and other leaders committed to the principles of active
non-violence, as a way of holding up the "promise of peace" in a
situation where few see any hope left.  Raiser agreed, pointing
to actions being taken now through the Ecumenical Accompaniment
Programme in Palestine and Israel - a programme that was built on
the Council's commitment to active non-violence through the
Decade to Overcome Violence.  It is encouraging, he said, to see
that more and more people on both sides are committing themselves
to such a "third way" as the only hope to break out of the rising
spiral of violence in which both peoples are trapped.  

Raiser welcomed Jackson's forthcoming interfaith delegation
visit to the area as an important sign of international
solidarity and hope for peace.  Jackson and Raiser agreed to
remain in touch in preparation for that visit, and exchanged
views about possible further international and interfaith
initiatives that could help strengthen the resolve of all those
committed to the path of active non-violence in the midst of this
terrible conflict. 

For further information, please contact Media Relations Office, 
tel.:  (+41.22) 791.61.53

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a fellowship of churches,
now 342, in more than 100 countries in all continents from
virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is
not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The
highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately
every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in
Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general
secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.

World Council of Churches
Media Relations Office
Tel: (41 22) 791 6153 / 791 6421
Fax: (41 22) 798 1346

PO Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

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