Rabbi Menachem From and Ibrahim Abu el Hawa

A Letter to President-elect Obama

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Click here to read the article in the New York Times which explains the background to the letter

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mr. Dan Shapiro
Mr. Alan D. Solomont
Prof. Marshall Ganz
Ambassador Dennis Ross
Ambassador Dan Kurtzer

Dear Friends

The Inauguration Ceremony and the President’s address set the stage for presenting the grand vision of a great new President. President Elect Barack Obama has spread a sense of hope around the globe, touching people in every corner. His victory has ignited our spirits and has renewed our faith in the ability of the United States to be a peace maker in the world today.

We would like to propose that a group of 6 religious leaders from Jerusalem come to the Inauguration Ceremony on January 20, 2009 and give their blessing to the new President. Two Rabbis, two Muslim Sheikhs and two Christian Bishops from the Holy Land delivering a message of peace from the Holy City to the new President and to the American people would serve as a strong symbol for the renewed hope for peace in the world. It will also signal to the world the President’s belief that peace in the Middle East is possible and is high on his agenda.

Imagine the image of these 6 religious leaders from the Holy Land sitting together amongst the invited guests on the patio of the Capitol building. Imagine the attention and the attraction of this scene as President Obama refers to their presence in his Inaugural Address. Imagine these spiritual leaders offering the Prayer and Blessing at the Inauguration itself. This is exactly the kind of image that President Obama should wish to present as the eyes of billions of people around the world are focused on him.

The initiative for this delegation came from Rabbi Menechem Froman who has worked endlessly for reaching out to Muslims and Christians in a sincere search for understanding and peace and also worked very hard during the campaign on behalf of President-elect Obama and the campaign team particularly with the American Jewish Community. IPCRI – the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, one of the most veteran Israeli-Palestinian joint peace institutions in the Holy Land has gladly undertaken to advance this idea.

We have written some suggestions regarding potential participants. We have not approached any of them yet. If the idea is appealing to the Obama team working on the Inauguration, we would then work together to select the participants.

We hope that you will present this idea to President-elect Obama and have his transition team working on the Inauguration Ceremony planning make contact with us.

We thank you for your response.

Best wishes

Dr. Gershon Baskin and Hanna Siniora on behalf of IPCRI and Rabbi Menechem Froman

Gershon Baskin

Gershon Baskin

Gershon Baskin is one of the most recognizable names in the Middle East Peace process. His dedication to creating a culture of peace and environmental awareness, coupled with his impeccable integrity, has earned him the trust of the leaders of all sides of the century old conflict. Few people have such far-reaching and positive impacts on promoting peace, security, prosperity and bi-national relationships.
Gershon is an advisor to Israeli, Palestinian and International Prime Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process and the founder and director of IPCRI, the Israeli-Palestinian Public Policy Institute. He was the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel between Israel and Hamas for the release of 1,027 prisoners – mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis of which 280 were sentenced to life in prison for planning and perpetrating various attacks against Jewish targets that resulted in the killing of 569 Israelis in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. Gershon is actively involved in research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, environmental security, political strategy, peace education, economics, culture and in the development of affordable solar projects with the goal of providing clean electricity for 50 million people by 2020.
Gershon Baskin