Middle East bishop meets Jimmy Carter on peace mission

By staff writers
November 20, 2007

Peace and justice advocate Bishop Munib A. Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) has met with former US President Jimmy Carter to discuss initiatives relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Bishop Younan was also invited by Carter that to speak about the Middle east situation to an Atlanta, Georgia, audience of about 250 people who had been invited to the Carter Center to view a new film about his life, 'Jimmy Carter Man from Plains.'

Younan, who returned to Jerusalem on 13 November, had been in the United States for several days with a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders from Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The group from the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land met with several members of Congress and religious leaders in Washington DC.

Bishop Younan continued on to Atlanta, where he preached and spoke to area Lutherans before meeting with ex-President Carter, a Baptist.

Mr Carter plans to visit the Middle East in January 2007. He said he would visit the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land along with other religious and civil society groups, Bishop Younan told the ELCA News Service in a phone interview.

In the meeting with Jimy Carter, Bishop Younan said he told the former president of the plight of Palestinian Christians and decsribed the work of the Council of Religious Institutions.

"President Carter brought peace to Egypt and Israel," Younan said. "We can cooperate with him in waging peace and human rights for all people in the region." The former president has good access to the media and the public and could be an important ally, Younan said, adding that "the message of peace and justice for all people (in the Middle East) must be heard in the United States."

Recently, Jimmy Carter wrote 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,' a book that drew criticism from some people for its assessment of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Carter's experiences in the Middle East are portrayed in the new film, Younan confirmed.

Reflecting on the US visit to Washington by members of the Council of Religions Institutions, Bishop Younan commented: "Lutherans are seen as partners in peace and justice" in the Middle East. "They have seen how much the churches are working with each other for peace and justice."

Council members released a communique with their priorities for peace. Members are meeting next week to discuss a plan to establish rapid communication procedures to address and advise government officials regarding protection of and access to Holy sites before conflicts arise, Bishop Younan explained.

Other priorities include promoting education for mutual respect and acceptance in schools and in the media, and matters related to the future of Jerusalem.

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