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WTAS: Ernst Leads Abraham Accords Caucus in Pushing State Department to Facilitate Interfaith Dialogues in Middle East

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), co-chair of the Abraham Accords Caucus and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led the caucus last week in pushing the State Department to facilitate interfaith dialogue between Abraham Accords member countries. Ernst and her fellow co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan caucus sent a letter to the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Rashad Hussain, urging him to increase opportunities for interfaith and intercultural dialogue in the region.


Over twenty outside organizations have announced their support for the effort.


What They Are Saying About the Effort:


“More than two years after its signing, the Abraham Accords continues to open new opportunities to foster trust and understanding in the Middle East and around the world,” said the Anti-Defamation League. “ADL supports the call for increased interfaith dialogue between member countries, candidate countries, and the United States. We thank the leaders of the Abraham Accords Caucus for leading this important effort.”


“The Abraham Accords have ushered in a new era of peace and are paving the way for increased understanding and celebration of diversity,” said Jason Isaacson, the Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer of the American Jewish Committee. “These normalization agreements with Israel have brought together religious faiths and diverse communities and showcased to the world not only the importance, but also benefits of interfaith respect and cooperation. Continued American engagement is critical and is why we applaud the Senate and House Abraham Accords Caucus for spearheading this important initiative to encourage greater engagement through interfaith dialogue programming among Abraham Accords member countries.


"The Abraham Accords gave new impetus to the entire Middle East region, and we have seen an array of extremely positive developments in the last couple of years, including interfaith and intercultural dialogue,” said Jack Rosen, President of the American Jewish Congress. “It is important that American leadership and activism remain at the forefront of the efforts to bring the people of the region together and to combat discrimination of all sorts. We need to double down on this paradigm shift. The American Jewish Congress applauds the Abraham Accords Caucus in both the House and Senate for their leadership on these crucial issues."


“We join our Abraham’s Missing Child Initiative partners in commending the Senate and House Abraham Accords Caucus’ letter to the Administration,”said Jason Guberman, Executive Director of the American Sephardi Federation. “The Middle East and North Africa was at its most peaceful and prosperous when a mixed multitude of indigenous Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others made cities like Basra, Beirut, and Benghazi bustling centers of trade and innovation. Recent progress cannot be taken for granted and failing to prioritize funding will once again enable the forces of fanaticism to plunge the region into darkness. Identifying and increasing America’s support for pluralistic projects based on intercultural exchange is essential to countering these threats, empowering our allies, and achieving a better future.” 


“The Abraham Accords heralded a new era of interfaith relations in the Middle East, and this historic paradigm shift offers the United States a unique opportunity to advance religious tolerance, cross-cultural understanding, and social harmony among the Muslims, Jews, and Christians who have long called the region home,” said Sacha Roytman Dratwa, CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM).


“Coptic Orphans acknowledges any serious effort to promote peaceful co-existence in the world, especially in the Middle East,” said Coptic Orphans.“We see firsthand the progress Egypt has made in achieving unity, and we support its efforts through the success of programs like our Valuable Girl Project. We are confident that funding from the Office of International Religious Freedom will enhance these evidence-based results and amplify the growth of interfaith dialogue in Egypt and the rest of the world. For this reason, Coptic Orphans is proud to support the bipartisan, bicameral request from the Abraham Accords Caucuses to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue and support religious freedom among Abraham Accords member countries.”


“We commend the co-chairs of the Abraham Accords Caucus for encouraging the State Department to promote interfaith grants to strengthen efforts to build the bonds fostered by the Abraham Accords and to encourage other Arab nations to reduce barriers and advance peace,” said William C. Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “The signing of the Abraham Accords marked a momentous era of cooperation and a shift towards normalization between Israel and her Arab and Muslim neighbors. Opportunities for further engagement and interfaith dialogue in the spirit of the original agreement are critical to achieving peace and ultimately saving lives in the Middle East.”


"Supporting interfaith dialogue amongst current and potential Abraham Accords nations is a key step in creating lasting people to people connections between different societies that will transcend the political and strategic realms of the accords,” said Sandra Parker, Chairwoman of CUFI Action Fund.


“The Abraham Accords brought much needed hope and optimism to people of the Middle East,” said FDD Action. “Sustaining it can’t be taken for granted. FDD Action supports the Abraham Accords Caucus’s leadership to leverage the energy of interfaith communities to build on the Accords’  successes to date. A stable, prosperous region not only benefits the people if the region but serves American interests as well.”


“Pluralism and tolerance are the hallmarks of American democracy,” said the Muslim American Leadership Alliance. “Our nation leads the example by supporting the groundwork for promoting religious freedom and tolerance. MALA continues to advocate for intercultural and interreligious exchanges as a national nonprofit that represents a plethora of American diasporas from regions represented by the Abrahamic Accords.”


"I'm encouraged by this effort from Senator Ernst and Senator Rosen to take full advantage of the incredible opportunity for a more pluralistic future created by the Abraham Accords,” said Robert Nicholson, President of the Philos Project. “Religious minorities in the region, especially Christians, are on a path to extinction. We need more work like this to create a sustainable environment for these indigenous communities."


"We are grateful to the Abraham Accords Caucus members and their efforts to see peace succeed in the Middle East,” said Heather Johnston, CEO of the U.S. Israel Education Association. “The accords are leading to major breakthroughs and increased collaboration in many areas, especially in the healthcare sector. Dialogue between people of all faiths is essential to advance religious tolerance and understanding.”