U.S. Civilian Diplomacy Delegation Departs for Iran; Woman Rabbi Makes Historic Visit for Peace
In the wake of comments on April 21st by U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, who responded to a question of a theoretical future attack by Iran on Israel by saying, "I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," a 21-person interfaith peace delegation to Iran will depart New York on Tuesday, April 29, 2008. The two-week delegation is organized by the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), the oldest and largest interfaith peace organization in the United States, and is FOR's seventh fact-finding and friendship delegation to Iran.
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, one of the first ten women rabbis in the history of Judaism, will co-lead the delegation, becoming the first woman rabbi to visit Iran and the first U.S. rabbi known to travel there in a formal peacemaking capacity since the 1979 revolution. "I am deeply concerned that Senator Clinton, a national political figure, discussed the prospect of military action against Iran and even stated, 'we would be able to totally obliterate them'," said Rabbi Gottlieb. "This is a time for finding common ground between our two nations, not threats. When our elected leaders choose belligerent rhetoric over dialogue, it is up to us as everyday Americans to serve as civilian diplomats."
The group will be hosted by Iran's Center for Interfaith Dialogue, an official entity committed to supporting interaction between different religious communities. The interfaith delegation includes people of Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and Indigenous spiritual commitments. The delegates hail from 11 different U.S. states and include best-selling author Sam Keen, author of Faces of the Enemy (also an award-winning public television series), and a diverse group of six young adults who are of Afro-Brazilian, Indigenous (Navajo), Jewish American, Iranian, European, and Korean American heritage.
"More than half of Iran's population is under the age of 30, so I am especially excited to meet with young Iranian artists and educators to discuss our passions and concerns for the world," said Shauen Pearce, an artist and co-director of FOR's Youth & Militarism program. "I think that through such people-to-people relationships we will lay a foundation for resolving the tension between our governments and stand in community with one another."
The delegation will travel to Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Hamadan, and Qom, and meetings are scheduled with educators and students, politicians, artists, and religious leaders from the Muslim as well as minority Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian communities. The delegation's reports will be published on FOR's blog, and background information about the Iran program can be found online on FOR's web site.
Members of FOR's April 29 - May 13, 2008 Iran delegation:
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