A Prayer Vigil for Protection Offered by Rev. Cliff Cutler

6 July, 2021

Abrahamic Reunion. 10 Jun 2021. YouTube.

On 25 March Sufi Sheikh Ghassan Manasra asked if I would offer a meditation and prayer on “protection” for the group he founded eighteen years ago called Abrahamic Reunion to activate religion as a force for peace in Israel/Palestine.

Back in 2009 through the assistance of the late Episcopalian and Congressman Amory Houghton, Sheikh Ghassan and the late Rabbi Menachem Froman met with Senator George Mitchell, Special Envoy for Middle East Peace for the Obama administration. The Sheikh asserted his desire for equality. He wanted full citizenship for all Arabs including both Christians and Muslims in the State of Israel.

Rabbi Froman teared up. Jerusalem is the holy city of all Jews, Muslims and Christians, he said. It is the city of peace, the city of God. Jerusalem is the center of western and Islamic encounter. “If we can work it out in Jerusalem, then there is great opportunity for understanding everywhere.”

I was impressed with how intently Senator Michell listened to each man, Sheikh Manasra first, then Rabbi Froman. He did not interrupt but seemed to absorb what each speaker had to say. His focus was impressive. The meeting unfortunately had little impact on the politics for peace. George Mitchell concluded his work as Special Envoy for Middle East Peace in 2011 saying, “The process in which I engaged as U.S. envoy to the Middle East was largely contentious and disappointing, one quarrel and setback after another” (his memoir, The Negotiator, p, 320).

Josh Ruebner in his book Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace argues that George Mitchell never stood a chance. Abe Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, in Mitchell’s first year as Envoy condemned him for his “neutrality.” In 2009, Dennis Ross was appointed to the National Security Council covering the Middle East. Ross met with Israeli officials behind Mitchell’s back. Ruebner reports that President Obama “told the quintessential ‘Israel-firster’ policymaker Dennis Ross that Ross would now ‘quarterback’ all Middle East issues” (p. 280). Mitchell’s efforts to broker peace were crippled from the start.

Though the politics of this outreach failed, Abrahamic Reunion, based upon the “sure foundation of (God’s) loving kindness” (Collect, Proper 7), continues its work to create understanding and empathy between diverse faith communities in Israel/Palestine to foster constructive cooperation in the cause of peace.

Episcopal Peace FellowshipPalestine Israel Network (PIN)
PO Box 15, Claysburg, PA 16625

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