Friday, February 28, 2014

  • Friday, February 28, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
After my two posts expressing concern over Shaun Casey, the head of the State Department's Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives, and his silent visit to the West Bank with some viciously anti-Israel (and antisemitic) Christian leaders, I asked Matthew Lee of AP if he would ask the State Department about what happened on this trip. (Lee is well known for his relentless questioning of State Department officials. )

He kindly agreed and submitted the questions yesterday. Here was the exchange that happened at today's press briefing:

QUESTION: Okay. So then, on the meetings that Mr. Casey had --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- with the religious leaders, including some that are allegedly anti-Israel, can you – what do you have to say about that?
MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, during his recent trip to the region, Special Advisor Shaun Casey met with a wide range of religious leaders, from the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths. So this is – part of the context here is, of course, very important.
QUESTION: Okay, wait. Just before you go on, he did not just meet with Palestinian and Christian leaders? He met with all members of all their different faiths?
MS. PSAKI: Correct. Exactly.
QUESTION: Or leaders of all --
MS. PSAKI: Exactly.
MS. PSAKI: And this was, of course, part of our ongoing outreach to religious communities vis-a-vis the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. He also met with local interfaith organizations and international faith-based development groups, and he hopes to continue to engage on an even more diverse range of religious voices in future visits. As you know, this is kind of a newer position and he just came to the State Department a couple of months ago, so this serves an interesting utility in terms of reaching out to faith groups around these important policy issues.
QUESTION: And what do you think of the concerns expressed by some in Israel that he met – that he was giving credibility, credence to anti-Israel figures?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I would point to the fact that he met with a very broad range of officials from across the faith spectrum. And it’s important to us, it’s important to Mr. Casey, to hear from a range of officials, to have a dialogue with them. And that was the pure purpose of his engagement.
QUESTION: Right. Well, there was one specific meeting that caused some extra concern. Do you – can you say anything about that?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more to say about it.
QUESTION: All right. 
My very simple question is - what Jewish (and Muslim) leaders did he meet? No one seems to know.

UPDATE: Yisrael Medad found one more Christian site he visited, Bethlehem Bible College.

The President of Bethlehem Bible College, Rev Dr. Jack Sara together with members of the college leadership team, Dr. Bishara Awad, President Emeritus, Dr. Munther Isaac, Mr. Jamal Ateeq and Ms Nisreen Nassar, met Dr. Casey and his officers and together they discussed issues of importance to Palestinian Christians, and in particular, the role of the Palestinian church in politics and in the peace process. They also talked at length about the up-coming Christ at the Checkpoint Conference and the impact that such an international event can have in promoting peace.

"Christ at the Checkpoint" is a virulently anti-Israel conference that last year portrayed Israelis as "The Impossible People" who stand in the way of peace. It has speakers who support the PFLP terror group.

So far, Casey's record of who he secretly visited does not seem to be very conducive to peace.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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