Statement on Conflict in Israel / Palestine

In light of recent events in Israel/Palestine, the Philadelphia Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation invites everyone to be part of a day of fasting in conjunction with the international "Hunger Strike Against Violence" and to join the Peace Walk community for reflection, prayer and Iftar fast-breaking on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 7:30 pm at Al Aqsa Islamic Center (1501 Germantown Avenue, Phila.).  This fast day is during the period of Muslim Ramadan and Jewish Fast of the 17 of Tammuz.

We also call upon all faith and secular communities to recognize the intense suffering at this time of children and families throughout the world, whether in Israel, Palestine, Central America, Syria, Iraq, Philadelphia, or elsewhere—and in so doing to more clearly see and honor each other’s humanity.  

We express our deep condolences to the Israeli and Palestinian families who have been victimized by the recent brutal outbreaks of violence.  And we lift up the noble example of reconciliation of Yishai Fraenkel (uncle of one of the deceased Israeli youth) and the equally empathetic Palestinians who visited with the Fraenkel family.   Fraenkel stated about his call to the suffering Palestinian family, “We expressed our deep empathy with their sorrow, from one bereaved family to another bereaved family...We expressed our absolute disgust with what had happened.”  And the two Palestinian visitors acknowledged, “The moment we learn to deal with each other’s pain and stop the anger against one another, the situation will be better....Our mission is to strengthen the family and also to take a step forward towards the liberation of my people....We are sorry for any harm against people, whether Jewish or Muslim. We don’t want anyone to be hurt, and want to reach a political agreement.” 

Read more: Slain Israeli teen's uncle consoles murdered Palestinian's father | The Times of Israel

We of the Peace Walk Community ask as we have before: 

What is the language of love, of Salaam, of Shalom that is at the core of all of the world’s major religions?

It is, we believe:

  • Creating a vision where people of different faiths and nationalities actively talk with one another rather than picking up arms and killing each other to resolve conflicts.  Ongoing fighting, regardless of which group may be perceived to have “started” a conflict, will result only in continuing a destructive cycle of revenge and retribution that reinforces old paradigms and results in loss of innocent life.  
  • Reaching out and listening to on another in order to hear the other’s story, even if it means temporarily suspending belief only in our own group’s story.
  • Respecting all human life as sacred, acknowledging the Biblical vision that all human beings are created in the image of God and that an act of violence is a desecration of God’s image.
  • Not standing idly by while our neighbor suffers, regardless of ethnicity or national borders; that is, doing everything possible to create equitable and just conditions for all people and responding accordingly when people are suffering unnecessarily—with the hope that such a vision will create mutual understanding, respect and peace.
  • Adhering to international human rights guidelines in the treatment of others, particularly civilians in the midst of armed conflict.
  • Speaking out against violence to stop loss of innocent lives.

With these principles in mind, we call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire in Israel and Palestine, ongoing humanitarian assistance to all victims of violence, and a plan for a permanent peace that respects the human and civil rights, safety and security of all citizens of Israel and Palestine.  

And we pray, with members of the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Baha’i faiths and others in the Peace Walk community, that people (and governments) in all parts of the U.S. and the world will call upon the most sacred and life-affirming parts of their respective traditions to find the courage, will and compassion to reach out to each other, to listen to and respect each other’s story and to actively search with an open heart for a just and peaceful solution to violent conflicts.