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A group of rabbis and other religious leaders bought advertising space in the New York Times this week to call for U.S. president-elect Barack Obama to push for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

The ad, placed by the Network of Spiritual Progressives and claiming to represent more than 2,800 other religious, cultural and community leaders, urges Obama to convene an international Middle East peace conference to "facilitate a lasting and just settlement for all parties."

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, who convened the group, said the group had to buy the advertising space because the national newspapers would not make room for their perspective.

"They feel that AIPAC's choice is overwhelming, and there's no space left for empathy or objective coverage - the media, according to the group, simply ignored the voice of the Jewish opposition to war in Gaza," Rabbi Lerner said.

Eleven prominent British Jews, including Baroness Julia Neuberger, published a letter in The Observer newspaper last weekend expressing their "horror" at the Gaza conflict and calling on Israel to stop its military campaign.

Israel has been waging an offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip since December 27. The operation, launched in order to halt cross-border rocket fire, has come under heavy criticism for the high number of civilian casualties.