For weeks I've been looking forward to seeing Rabbi Steven Jacobs tonight in Portland. We were scheduled to be on a panel discussion together. I first met Rabbi Jacobs during the 2004 election cycle when we were both involved with the Clergy Leadership Network. But as I was getting ready to head off to the Interfaith Alliance town hall meeting where the panel would take place it was announced on CNN that Jesse Jackson, another veteran of the Clergy Leadership Network, would be leading a peace delegation to the Middle East. The AP reports:
CHICAGO -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Wednesday he would lead an ecumenical delegation to the Middle East this week to meet with political and religious leaders about troubles in the region, including the kidnapping of two Fox News journalists.
Jackson, the veteran civil rights leader and head of his Chicago-based Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, said the group would leave Friday night for meetings in Syria, Lebanon and Israel. He declined to release his planned itinerary because of security concerns.
"We had been working with the Middle Eastern Council of Churches, but couldn't get in earlier because of the bombings," Jackson said.
He said his delegation would consist of about 10 people representing Jewish, Muslim, Roman Catholic and Protestant groups.
Jackson said his mission would have three goals: urging the extension of the cease-fire in Lebanon, arranging humanitarian aid in Lebanon and in the Israeli city of Haifa, and inquiring into several hostage situations.
He said his group is concerned about the fate of Israeli soldiers held hostage by Hezbollah, as well as by the kidnapping of Fox News correspondent Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig, who were kidnapped Aug. 14 from their TV van near the Palestinian security services headquarters in Gaza City.
Jackson has had success several times in the past in negotiating the release of political hostages.
So instead of hanging out in Portland, Oregon Rabbi Jacobs, a longtime associate of both Jackson and Martin Luther King, is heading off with Rev. Jackson to save the world. Again. Please pray for their safety and the success of their mission.