Gaza / Israel Statement
In light of the recent violence in Gaza and Israel, members of the Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation (formerly the Interfaith Walk for Jewish-Muslim Reconciliation) believe that a different vision for reconciling differences is desperately needed to end this conflict and to create a just and lasting peace in Israel and Palestine.
As we began the first of our five annual Peace Walks in Philadelphia in 2003, we wrote:
We invite people of all faiths to join us on a spiritual journey. As we walk from Al-Aqsa Mosque to St. Augustine’s Church to Congregation Rodeph Shalom, we will lament war and the loss of life. We will pray for the safety and freedom of all people. We will embrace hope, not fear. The true pathway of peace is God’s desire for love and justice, not military might. Join with us to show that peace between people of all faiths is possible.*
Let us call out Salaam. Let us call out Shalom.
Let us call out Peace in the language of Love.
What now, we ask, is the language of love, of Salaam, Shalom? 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 “started” a conflict, can only result in continuing a cycle of revenge and retribution that reinforces old paradigms and results in loss of innocent life.
Reaching out and listening to each other 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, ongoing humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza 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 Israel and Palestine 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 this conflict.
Lance Laver, Adab Ibrahim, Vic Compher
Interfaith Peace Walk co-founders