ICCJ Issues Reflections on Religion & the Middle East: "As Long as You Believe in a Living God, You Must Have Hope."

Heppenheim, Germany − The International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) has issued a major statement on religions and the Middle East on the occasion of the 2013 observances of the Jewish feast of Shavuot and the Christian feast of Pentecost. It is entitled, "'As Long as You Believe in a Living God, You Must Have Hope': Reflections on the Role of Religious and Interreligious Groups in Promoting Reconciliation about and in the Troubled Middle East."

The text is the result of a week-long meeting of the ICCJ Executive Board that was held in London, U.K. in February 2013 in response to difficulties experienced by national member organizations when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict becomes the subject of local interreligious dialogues.

The ICCJ serves as the umbrella organization of 38 national Jewish-Christian dialogue organizations world-wide. The CCJR is the ICCJ national member organization in the United States.

After noting the frustrations that many people feel about the unresolved issues in the region, the statement notes that religious and interreligious groups such as ICCJ will not resolve a conflict that is geopolitical in nature.  Rather, the primary role the "Abrahamic" religions should play with respect to the Middle East is the promotion of reconciliation and peace among their three traditions. The statement advises that reconciliation is possible only through the active pursuit of respectful dialogue that avoids self-serving religious appeals and recognizes the legitimate and contradictory rights of all involved in the conflict.

The document considers the diverse understandings of some key terms that arise when discussing the Middle East: Israel, Holy Land, Zionism, and prophecy. Listed as well are general principles that ICCJ will use to guide its own activities, which might also be helpful for ICCJ member organizations.

An executive summary and the full text of the new ICCJ statement can be found HERE.