Middle East Peace Initiative
The Middle East Peace Initiative, sponsored by the Interreligious and International Peace Council (IIPC), a project of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, has for more than one year been sponsoring pilgrimages to the Holy Land, making great strides in interreligious reconciliation and cooperation among the religions and ethnic groups of that precious historical area.
World Peace Pilgrimage - September 2004
During this summer of 2004 IIPC has called the world – all seven continents – to come to Israel
in a spirit of reconciliation as true peace ambassadors. Latin America,
Africa, Oceania, Europe, North America, and Asia are all sending 500 pilgrims
each during July, August, September, and October. This was truly a mighty
and historic movement for peace.
History of the Middle East Peace initiative
formally launched its Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) with an
international consultation held on February 27-March 2, 2003, in Washington,
DC, called, Beyond Coexistence Toward a New Culture of Peace: Focus on the
Middle East. That and subsequent consultations have been designed to offer a
broad approach to the challenges facing the Middle East with a focus on
bringing religious leaders to the table along with political, academic and
IIFWP’s approach to this
global crisis is innovative. Perhaps what speaks loudest about this approach
is that in September of 2003 the Al Aqsa’ Mosque hosted the first
international and interreligious gathering since the second Intifada of
October 2001. Supporting this breakthrough, IIPC initiatives have repeatedly
gathered together people from the three Abrahamic faiths. Jews, Christians and
Muslims have reconciled their past histories of enmity and recommitted to one
another with a new vision of peace for the Middle East.
has not been approached from this angle in any substantial way before. The
International Peace Council (IIPC) initiated
a unique process that starts from the most “internal” points of
convergence—from the most profound and critical convictions that Jehovah/God/Allah
is the one Origin and Source of all, and whose Will is for peace and
prosperity, not for violence, poverty or hatred. This becomes the core and
starting point for the peace process.
in the above fundamentals, IIPC’s efforts at this time could best be
described as “The Restoration of the Family of Abraham” and has three
I: includes consultations, conferences, roundtables, grassroots programs,
peace walks and seminars, giving all people the opportunity to come together
on “common ground”—recalling our common origins, convergent aspirations
and unique contributions as individuals and members of various religions and
nationalities. By establishing our common origins, ancestry and desired
destination (a world of peace), and by recounting that we are all acting
within a set of universal principles at play in our lives, we can then start
another critical part of the process.
II: seeks to establish recognition of accountability to a “higher” source—one
to whom all are equally accountable. By recognizing past grievous actions on
all sides, what becomes most critical is that each person commits to
constructive, self-giving preventive actions rather than resentment and
revenge. To accomplish this phase quite literally requires each person to
genuinely turn and face their God. Then to seek and adopt that point of view
as their own, as a sign of submission to, or faith in, or obedience to Him.
Component III: builds solidarity to strengthen the tenuous “new beginning” of the first two phases. Actions will take the form of interreligious and international cooperation guided by the needs of the “larger good.” In other words, we will start to see the emergence of one “family of Abraham” seeking the greatest opportunities for peace and prosperity for all in the region.
Heart-to-Heart Rally for Peace
enlightened religious leadership has been crucial to the advancement of
justice and morality, from the movements to abolish slavery and end colonial
oppression to the movement for civil rights. Why do we march and rally for
peace? In biblical times, Joshua led the Israelites on a march around the city
of Jericho, bringing down the walls. In modern times, Gandhi’s march to the
sea grew from hundreds to thousands, overcoming scepticism and derision, and
sparked a movement that touched the conscience of the world, leading to Indian
independence. In 1963 when an American president refused to consider civil
rights legislation, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched on Washington, DC with
hundreds of thousands of freedom-loving Americans of many races who shared a
dream, and changed the course of American history.
too, share a dream, and if we march together as never before in history we,
too, can “bring down the walls” of resentment, prejudice and hatred, heal
the wounds of war, and change the course of history. Whether Jewish, Moslem,
Christian or Druze, the leaders of the world, and all who love and long for
peace, will demonstrate that the power to create peace lies in the hands of
those of us who truly love God and love our fellow human beings, those who
will to join us to proclaim with one voice, “Peace! Shalom! Salaam
The IIPC’s Philosophy of Peacemaking
IIPC sees peace as the establishment of a permanent condition of prosperity,
joy, equality of opportunity, and respect for every person and every family.
It is predicated upon the removal of enmity and historical resentment. Peace
is characterized by giving more than receiving, a common respect for the
origin of life, and by a life lived for the greater social good and support
key to peace lies with God, who is the Parent of humankind and the Revealer of
each of the monotheistic religions. Therefore, an essential precondition for
peace is reconciliation among religious leaders of Judaism, Christianity and
Islam, along with their commitment to work in solidarity for peace and
understanding among their peoples. Violence and conflict form the saddest
chapters of human history. The IIPC encourages parties to express their
legitimate grievances in non-violent ways as part of a social dialogue aimed
at helping the sides to understand each other and to have compassion for each
leaders and believers are those whom history would expect to respond first and
having opened the way, would then encourage others to follow. The
accomplishment of peace is in large part a spiritual undertaking. Good will
and trust must be generated in order to change the political atmosphere and to
give governments the political will to make the sacrifices that meaningful
peace entails. This calls for leadership from religious leaders to generate a
spiritual atmosphere of reconciliation and good will. Political and social
leaders, educators and the media, should collaborate with enlightened
religious leaders to promote and extend that spirit throughout the society.
Partnerships for Peace
hope needs to be installed in the hearts and minds of the religious leaders no
less so than in the hearts and minds of all people, including political
leaders. This is where the support from international religious leaders is so
important; they can catalyse the process.
of the preliminary work of the MEPI has been to create the necessary
international support system and foundation for the overall IIPC strategy.
Without this tremendous level of support from outside, those in the region
will not be able to take the necessary, life-threatening steps to peace. The
support that comes from “outside” must be a total investment, i.e. “at
the cost of their lives.” Otherwise, it will not be taken seriously.
Persistence, commitment, sacrifices are needed. Financial sacrifices are
needed to enable this process and mobilization to move forward, just not from
governments, but from the people and families all over the world.
the banner of the IIPC, a series of gatherings and peace walks
“re-establishing the Family of Abraham” will take place, binding together
hearts, families, nationalities—and faiths—in partnerships for peace.
For further information please contact your IIFWP chapter: