In the President’s State of the Union address, he stated, “American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there.” Secretary Kerry has been at the forefront of these talks and the negotiations process, and the Office of Public Engagement and his Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations have come together to engage various leaders and discuss the influence and role they can have in this process.
Arab-, Israeli-, Palestinian-, Jewish-, Christian- and Muslim American youth leaders from across the country gathered at the White House for the first time earlier this month to share the work of their organizations and student groups, and to discuss ways to promote and organize efforts in support of the current negotiations process and a two-state solution between Palestine and Israel as difficult conversations currently take place in the region. These young leaders have an imperative place and role to play in this negotiations process and in the future of the conflict as next generation leaders.
Also earlier this year, Secretary Kerry joined a luncheon with Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith leaders at Georgetown university, coordinated by the Office of Public Engagement, State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations and the new Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives launched by Secretary Kerry last summer. Imam Yahya Hendi, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Rabbi Sharon Brous came together to give opening prayers on the shared responsibility of people of all faiths in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Following the prayers from the three clergy, Secretary Kerry discussed current U.S. government efforts in the negotiations process. He also listened to the perspectives, concerns and recommendations of the various prominent faith leaders in the room, and encouraged interfaith and/or faith-based efforts to support peace in the region.
“Humanity once shared an ark, why not again?” – Imam Yahya Hendi
Rumana Ahmed is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Public Engagement.