Today's question: Americans are deeply concerned about terrorism and political assassinations in the Middle East. As a "peacemakers summit" opens today in Egypt, is there anything on an individual level that Christians, Jews and Muslims in Southern California can do?
The Rev. George Gross
Presbyterian minister and president of the Academy for Judaic, Christian and Islamic Studies at the University Religious Conference at UCLA
This problem will not go away tomorrow. We must think about the immediate and the long-term. The immediate is to call your priest, minister, rabbi or imam and ask that special prayers be offered. Make sure they do it. Personal prayer is also important. In the long term, we must face up to the fact that the three communities, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are bonded together and have intertwining destinies, and will to the end of time. We must stop going about as if the other two communities had no religious connection with us. In the United States, we must maximize the good in this bond that we have together. What we do here will have an impact in the Middle East. Many Jews and Muslims here have family there. So do the Coptic Christians.
Rabbi Marvin Hier
Dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles
They should register their support for the counter-terrorism bills now before the Congress, urging that they be passed. They should also write the State Department urging that those countries that have shown an indifference to international terrorism be held up to scrutiny by the United States and should not receive any foreign funding that can be held up. For example, Syria is mentioned in a State Department report as sponsoring or allowing terrorist groups to live or reside in Syria. They refused to attend the summit. Individuals basically should voice their concern to the appropriate legislative bodies. That is the best way to influence our legislators to show how concerned we are.
Dr. Maher Hathout
A physician, author of books on medical ethics from an Islamic perspective and spokesman for the Islamic Center of Southern California, Los Angeles
I hope that people like us in America who have the opportunity to feel a very broad-based pulse should alert the summit to the sore spots. A major sore spot for Muslims is the double standard. You rarely find a Muslim who will justify a terrorist attack. But you will find lots of Muslims asking why the huge reaction just now? Where were all those people when villages in south Lebanon were leveled and when homes were bulldozed? Those were Arab civilians also who were killed. When something terrible happens to them, nobody cares. When something terrible happens to Israel, the whole world is rallying to it. Terrorism should be condemned across the board. If Jews and Muslims in Los Angeles express this, we might be able to shed some light on the darker corners the summit needs to be aware of.