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U.S. Jewish, Christian leaders to work for Middle East peace

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A UMNS file photo by Aaron Chan

Palestinian children cross through a gap in a wall separating the town of Abu Dis from Jerusalem.
Sept. 29, 2005

By Michele Green*

JERUSALEM (ENI) - A group of Christian and Jewish leaders from the United States has pledged to work together for Middle East peace, despite disagreements over issues such as Israel's West Bank barrier and divestment.

The 16 Jewish and Christian leaders made the Sept. 18-23 visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories to calm tension created by disagreements over recent decisions by a number of mainstream Protestant groups in the United States.

Two United Methodists were part of that delegation: Vidette Bullock Mixon, director of corporate relations for the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits, and Jim Winkler, chief executive, United Methodist Board of Church and Society.

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Vidette Bullock Mixon
Several Jewish groups described the decisions to re-examine investments in companies seen as helping Israeli occupation, as well as criticism of a barrier to separate Israelis and
Palestinians, as being one-sided and anti-Israeli.

The delegates said their five-day visit succeeded in strengthening ties and proving that "Christians and Jews can work together to seek peace even when there is disagreement on specific policies and solutions."

"As a result of these days," delegation members said in their statement, "we will now be even more effective advocates for a secure, viable and independent Palestinian state alongside an equally secure state of Israel."

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Jim Winkler
The Jewish delegates included leaders from the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League, which has been particularly critical of decisions by prominent U.S. Protestant denominations, including the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ.

The Christian delegates included leaders from the National Council of Churches, the Presbyterian Church and the Alliance of Baptists.

The delegates want to mobilize their religious communities as well as ordinary people to support the establishment of a Jewish and Palestinian state side by side in peace.

*This article was distributed by Ecumenical News International. United Methodist information was added by United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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