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American Muslim

POLL: Majority of Americans support Mideast cease-fire

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/4/06) - A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today released the results of a survey, called "The War in Lebanon and American Public Opinion," showing that a majority of Americans support an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East.

The random telephone survey, commissioned by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked more than 1,000 Americans about their views on U.S. policy in the Middle East and whether the United States should call for an immediate cease-fire.

CAIR's survey was conducted July 28 to August 2 by
International Communications Research, a Pennsylvania-based polling and market research firm. Poll results have a margin of error of +/-3 percent.

Highlights of the survey:

* Almost 54 percent of respondents support an immediate Mideast cease fire.
* Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of those surveyed favor American neutrality or disengagement from the
  Middle East conflict.
* 37 percent of respondents believe U.S. policy in the Middle East is balanced, favoring neither side.
* 36 percent believe the U.S. is biased in favor of Israel.
* Only 2 percent believe the U.S. favors the Palestinians and Lebanese.
* 35 percent believe media coverage of the conflict is "balanced and fair to all sides."
* 21 percent said media coverage favors Israel.
* 15 percent said it favors the Palestinians and Lebanese.

At today's news conference, CAIR also announced the launch of an online petition drive, called "Not in America's Name," urging elected officials to support an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East. Also see: http://www.notinamericasname.org/

The petition website also features educational materials about the conflict and suggests actions individuals can take, such as contacting elected officials and organizing town hall meetings, to help bring the violence to an end.

"The Bush administration's Mideast policy should reflect the opinion of the majority of Americans, not the narrow political agenda put forward by special interest groups," said CAIR Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed.

Ahmed said a small but growing number of elected officials are speaking out in favor of a cease-fire. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) drafted a resolution urging President Bush to demand an immediate end to Mideast violence. Other members of Congress supporting a cease-fire include
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Representatives David Price (D-NC), Lois Capps (D-CA), James Leach (R-IA), and Bob Filner (D-CA).

Kucinich calls for Middle East cease-fire

In Cleveland on Aug. 3, 2006, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich called for a cease-fire for the conflict in the Middle East.

Kucinich drafted a resolution and, in part, it urges President George W. Bush to appeal to all sides in the current crisis and demand an immediate end to the violence.

Local Jewish and Arab leaders agreed with the congressman's idea.

"We believe that the United States, it's the most powerful country on earth, and it certainly can be a force of good in the region," said Julia Shearson of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "We've done it before, we've brought peace between warring parties. We know our country has the moral authority to do that."

Kucinich said garnering support for the resolution is just a short-term goal. He said the long-term goal is a long-term settlement.


Jewish Journal – August 4, 2006

Mideast fighting strains fragile interfaith ties

By Marc Ballon

For more than three decades, Rabbi Allen Krause has believed in the power of interfaith and intercultural dialogue, especially between Jews and Muslims. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the head rabbi of Temple Beth El in Aliso Viejo offered to have members of his congregation guard local Muslim day schools, he stood alongside other religious leaders to publicly decry a vicious assault on a Yorba Linda Arab American high school student and he invited a Palestinian to address his congregation to talk about the hardships of living in the territories.

However, the interfaith ties that Krause and others like him have carefully cultivated are now being tested as never before. Against the backdrop of Hezbollah rockets raining on Israel and Israeli bombs exploding in Lebanon and Gaza, friends are splitting into two sides. In mid-July, several Muslim members of Common Ground, an Orange County interfaith group Krause helped found, declined to attend a scheduled meeting, because they "might say things they might regret," he was told.

Krause's experience is not unusual. As war in the Middle East rages, one of the casualties has been the fragile ties between Muslim and Jewish interfaith and other groups. Already weakened by the failed peace promise of Oslo and the second intifada, in recent weeks Muslim-Jewish relations have hit their lowest ebb in more than a decade. The increased strain has re-sown the seeds of mistrust in some interfaith group that enthusiasts hoped to have forever banished.

To be sure, a few Muslim and Jewish groups have redoubled their efforts to bridge the growing chasm. The Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA) will soon announce a sweeping interfaith collaboration with a yet-to-be-named Muslim group, said PJA Executive Director Daniel Sokatch.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple, which has a longstanding relationship with the Islamic Center of Southern California, soon plans to open a Center for Religious Inquiry that would invite members of all faiths, including Muslims, Jews and Christians, to discuss and examine the world's major religions, said Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein. A new outfit named L.A. Jews for Peace recently held two peace vigils outside the Israeli Consulate and sent a representative to a large anti-Israel peace protest co-sponsored by Muslim and other organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). . .

For Hussam Ayloush, Israeli "aggression" is personal. The executive director of the Southern California chapter of the CAIR said he grew up in Lebanon and left in 1989 during the civil war. Coming to America to study, he eventually settled in Southern California. Now married with three children, he said he returns to Lebanon once every couple years to visit family members, including a brother who lives in the capital city of Beirut.

Soon after Israel's air campaign began, Ayloush said he fell out of contact with his brother and his parents for four long days (His parents were in Lebanon visiting their son). Scared for their safety, Ayloush said he barely slept. He checked e-mails incessantly and watched the news round-the-clock. Although relieved when he finally reached his loved ones, he said he knows their lives continue to remain in peril.

"We would be fooling ourselves if we didn't realize that this new conflict will increase hatred among Arabs, Muslims and Jews. It's not going to just increase anti-Semitism but also Islamophobia and anti-Arab feelings," Ayloush said. "That's a tragedy."

But not all hope for continued dialogue has been dashed. Despite the July disappointment, Temple Beth El's Krause persisted with his group, and after some heart-to-heart talks, the Muslim members have agreed to attend a mid-August gathering, much to Krause's satisfaction and relief…..