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Facing White House criticism for her decision to include Syria on her latest Middle East tour, Nancy Pelosi in Israel said security must be attained not only with arms but through diplomacy. We must counter the terrorists vision of apocalypse and despair with our own pure path for hope and dignity, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives said at a state dinner held in her honor at the Knesset on Sunday night. And we must do this with strength, but also with wisdom. In the Middle East for the second time since assuming her position as House speaker, Pelosi is due to visit Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia before returning home. In Israel and the Palestinian territories, Pelosi held closed-door meetings with Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and toured Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem s Old City. She also met with the families of the Israeli soldiers kidnapped last summer by the Palestinians in Gaza and by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim-American member of Congress and a participant in Pelosi’s bipartisan tour of the region, said meeting with the families of the soldiers was “heart-rending.” Responding to questions about his unique position to build bridges between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East, Ellison told JTA, In terms of whatever role I can play one day, today is not that day. I m here to learn.

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