Source: Los Angeles Times
On February 12, 2005 the Los Angeles Times reported, "[W]hen his partners at the Wilshire Center Interfaith Council proposed a joint pilgrimage to Israel, [Mahmoud] Abdel-Baset, [director of religious affairs for the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles,] gulped. How, he wondered, could he sell this trip to the Muslim community at the height of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians? Could they separate raging political emotions from religious belief?...some members of his mosque agreed to take the trip. In the euphoria of that achievement, Abdel-Baset's early fears vanished. On Thursday, after months of delicate preparation, he and 45 other Muslims, Christians and Jews left Los Angeles for an 11-day visit to Israel and Jordan in what they say is one of the first pilgrimages from Southern California to the Holy Land that includes all three Abrahamic faiths... 'It's easy to talk,' he said, 'but this trip is putting us to the test. We're going to live together and visit each other's holy places. This probably can't happen anywhere else besides America.'"