Faith leaders describe Indonesia outreach


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A group of U.S. Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith leaders briefed lawmakers on their tour of Indonesia, Jordan and Israel.

The six-day trip on the role of religion in advancing Middle East peace was led by Rabbi Sid Schwarz and included 12 religious leaders from the United States and 12 religious leaders from Indonesia. It was organized by the Interfaith Mission for Peace and Understanding. 

On Wednesday, the group briefed the U.S. House of Representatives Indonesia Caucus, which is co-chaired by Reps. Jim McDermott (R-Wash.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who were in attendance.

Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the community’s public policy umbrella, highlighted the importance of the partnership between the U.S. and Indonesia. 

“Indonesia matters to us as Americans and as supporters of Israel. The largest Muslim democracy in the world deserves our attention and I have had a chance to spend time with and work toward Middle East peace with faith leaders from that democracy,” Gutow said in comments provided to JTA. 

In addition, during his remarks before the caucus, Schwarz, a senior fellow at Clal: National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and a founder of the Panim Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values, stated that the U.S. and Indonesia have “the ability to play a crucial role to advance Middle East peace.” 

“The road to peace will only succeed when hundreds of thousands of people coming from different sides of the conflict come face to face with each other to realize that their hopes for their children are the same–a world of peace, a world of prosperity, a world of human dignity, and a world of equal rights,” Schwarz said in his remarks.

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