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George Mason University Center Leads Delegation of D.C. Area Muslim, Jewish and Christian Leaders on Tour of Israel and Palestine

Jan. 20, 2011

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Group seeks to create and nurture peaceful relationships between people of all faiths in the Middle East

Fairfax, Va. – A coalition of interfaith leaders in the Washington, D.C. area is touring Israel and Palestine as part of an effort to connect with groups that seek peaceful solutions to conflicts in the region. The group is also touring holy sites significant to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths.

Taking place Jan. 16-25, the tour is organized by the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC) at George Mason University's Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR) in cooperation with the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center. The tour marks the launch of CRDC's Interfaith Peace and Justice Initiative of Greater Washington, which seeks to generate interfaith relationships and cooperation in the Washington, D.C. area. These connections will help create and nurture relationships between people of faith committed to peace across the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities of the Middle East.

The coalition includes: Imam Mohamed Magid of the ADAMS Center; Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk, formerly of the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation; the Rev. Elizabeth Hagan, Pastor of the Washington Plaza Baptist Church; John Moyle, Pastor of the Oakbrook Church; and Imam Yusuf Saleem of Masjid Muhammad. The tour participants will be documenting their experiences on site at http://crdcgmu.wordpress.com/ipji-blog.

The first in a planned series of trips, the tour involves an innovative approach toward conflict resolution in the Middle East that encourages the development and expansion of learning, understanding and partnership between peacebuilding networks across the region, in support of sustainable reconciliation.

Dr. Marc Gopin, James H. Laue Professor of Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at Mason and director of CRDC commented, "There is a world of positive cross-cultural and interfaith relationships in the Middle East, led by citizen diplomats committed to sowing the seeds of reconciliation throughout their communities and networks. This initiative aims to express solidarity with these nonviolent peace- and change-makers, learn about ongoing work in the region and forge new relationships between the different faith traditions. We are eager to engage more and more partnerships in order to build together a global future of peace and justice."

Aziz Abu Sarah, CRDC's director of Middle East Projects and Palestinian peacemaker, and Elad Vezana, a peacebuilding practitioner in Israel, will guide Gopin and clergy members of the interfaith initiative in a tour that will take the group to Jerusalem, the border of Gaza at Sderot, Bethlehem, Hebron, Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Galilee. Joined by nonviolent activists from the major faith traditions of the region, as well as a range of peacebuilders who continue their work despite wars, losses and injustices, the clergy will focus on the positive impact of partnerships that transcend culture and religion on building peace.

About George Mason University
Named the #1 national university to watch in the 2009 rankings of U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country. Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University—Where Innovation Is Tradition.

About The Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
At the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (ICAR), faculty and students are committed to the development of theory, research and practice that interrupt cycles of violence. ICAR is an innovative academic resource for people and institutions worldwide. It comprises a community of scholars, graduate students, alumni, practitioners and organizations in the field of peace making and conflict resolution. ICAR is a Commonwealth Center for Excellence, recognized for its leadership in the field and its world-renowned faculty.

About the Center for World Religions Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution
The Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC) operates as a practical component of ICAR. CRDC provides unique opportunities for ICAR students, alumni, and faculty to interact with CRDC's specialized network of peacebuilders. CRDC benefits from the proximity of more than 400 students of conflict analysis and resolution at ICAR, and its wider community, including a diverse membership with indigenous and first-hand understanding of conflicts in every region of the world who are engaging in cutting edge internships, practice and research. CRDC is an incubator for creating and nurturing new relationships in the midst of conflict and in regions of the world and situations that may be volatile, tentative and fluid. CRDC has a history of pioneering and growing such ground-breaking relationships, helping them to evolve into sustainable and productive interactions that set the stage for larger societal transformations.

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