ICCCC statement on the Tragic Events Unfolding between Israelis and Palestinians.
The tragic events unfolding in Israel/Palestine demand the attention of the world community. We must be concerned by the overwhelming force destroying the lives and well-being of so many people. As a service to you, below we offer the various statements and context on the situation for your study, consideration, and response.
Fair minded people must become aware of the historical circumstances behind this never-ending conflict. Realizing the highly charged nature of this issue, we encourage you to not only consider the facts of history, but the killing and destruction defining this moment in history.
The Interfaith and faith communities of the world have a duty to speak out and demand justice in light of their spiritual beliefs and practices. If our faith traditions cannot bring us to a higher consciousness in the pursuit of justice, what will?
We will continue to search for statements inviting us to respond to this heart-breaking situation. We must not let this issue fade into unconsciousness. Now is the time to work together for a just and equitable solution before more innocent people are slaughtered.
SAN FRANCISCO INTERFAITH COUNCIL
CONDEMNS RISE IN ANTISEMITIC ATTACKS
Elijah Interfaith Institute Statement: Religious Responses to Recent Israel/Palestine Violence
Jerusalem Post on May 2nd around strict police measures during Orthodox Easter at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher:
Associated Press on the violence in the Al Aqsa Mosque (3rd Holiest site in Islam) on May 7th:
From the Jewish Forward:
972 Magazine is a Palestinian/Israeli Peace Movement news source.
Haaretz: English news in Israel.
New York Times:
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Statement from the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) – “Israeli Troops Desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque, Authorities Expel Palestinians from Jerusalem Homes, Furthering Israeli Apartheid”
Catholic News Service: As Israeli-Palestinian violence escalates, Christian leaders voice concern
Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem Calls for Peace as Violence Escalates
United Church of Christ and Disciples Leaders Express Concern and Prayers in Current Crisis in Israel/Palestine
Holy Land Christian Churches Issue Statement on Israel-Palestinian Violence
Cat Zavis from Tikkun Magazine wrote this piece:
Elias D’eis, Exec. Director of the Holy Land Trust (a non-violent peace center in Bethlehem) writes this: News from your community In the Holy Land
“It’s been two weeks since we have all been witness to what is happening in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. News agencies have been covering the news and the violence of the Israeli settlers and army there. Tens of Palestinian activists were arrested, rubber bullets and tear gas was harshly used. Why all this? Because Palestinians are demonstrating in response to the eviction (ethnic cleansing) of 28 families from their homes in order to establish a new illegal settlement. The Nakbah, (the catastrophe that started in 1948) continues until this day.
This violence has not stopped since then and has intensified since the Israeli military occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. Palestinians have been severely oppressed by the direct Israeli military occupation, home demolition policy, land confiscation, administrative detention, restrictions of movement, abuse of natural resources and denial of freedom to worshiping for Palestinian Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem. Those acts have only been condemned by the International community which have never taken any steps to put Israel accountable for the oppression.
We at Holy Land Trust believe that as Palestinians we have to shape a future vision to see lasting and just peace in the Holy Land grounded by honoring the dignity and rights of all peoples through nonviolence, to resist the Israeli oppression and occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
We truly believe that violence only brings violence and hatred, and we cannot stop the circle of violence without healing our inherited traumas and fears, as well as raising awareness within the Israeli community about the daily acts of the Israeli settlers and army in the occupied territories, and create advocacy and solidarity to push Israel to end its bitter occupation of people and lands.
Jerusalem is a sacred city to all the monotheistic religions that can symbolize peace, harmony, acceptance of the other, and a space where everyone must enjoy freedom to worship.
We at Holy Land Trust highly condemn all acts of violence towards Palestinian Christian and Muslim worshippers in Jerusalem, and all kinds of violence implemented by the settlers against the innocent people of Sheikh Jarrah.
We kindly ask all of our friends around the globe to put pressure on their governments to stop Israel and its Apartheid system in Palestine, and to work together towards building a safe future to the coming generations in this land that we all call HOLY!”
From the Desk of Danny Grossman and Arthur Slepian, Jewish Federation Statement on the Violence in Israel:
Like you, we are watching the situation in Israel with great sadness and deep concern. There has been a rapid escalation of violence in the wake of days of clashes and demonstrations in Jerusalem over several contentious issues. These clashes, involving Israeli forces, Palestinians, and both Israeli Jews and Arabs, left hundreds of people injured. Since Monday, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations have fired hundreds of rockets at civilian sites in Jerusalem and southern Israel, forcing thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters. We strongly condemn the rocket attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, support Israel’s right to protect its civilians, and seek a de-escalation of the violence in Jerusalem.
These attacks have tragically resulted in civilian deaths – both Israeli and Palestinian, and many injuries. We mourn the loss of all lives, pray for the recovery of the injured, and call for a restoration of calm, security, as well as a resolution to this crisis for both Israelis and Palestinians.
At the Federation, we are in regular contact with our colleagues in our Federation office in Israel who are managing, albeit huddled in bomb shelters. We will continue to monitor the situation and continue to keep you posted on further developments, as well as ways to help those affected.
Sha’alu shalom yerushalayim. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for the Israelis, for the Palestinians, and for the entire region.”
Danny Grossman Arthur Slepian
CEO Board Chair
American Muslims for Palestine statement: by Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, Executive Director,on taking action for Jerusalem and Gaza:
“We write to you with heavy hearts during these final days of the holy month of Ramadan. Our Palestinian siblings have endured relentless violence at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces in the sacred site of Al-Aqsa for the past several days and in the besieged Gaza Strip. As of this writing, 20 have reportedly been killed (including 9 children) and over 800 have been injured.
Hundreds of residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah are on the verge of expulsion from their homes, and armed settlers and Israeli soldiers are terrorizing the community and those in solidarity with them.
This is a time for all of us to stand together at this crucial moment and take a stand for Palestinian rights — especially here in the United States where our own government finances Israel’s cruel military to the tune of $3.8 billion a year.
This ask is one of the most important we’ve ever had for you: can you please take just a few minutes to call your Representative today?
All you need to do is call 202-225-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative’s office. Once you get a staff member on the line (or if you’re asked to leave a voice message), mention your name, your address, and ask your Representative to do the following:
- Join the Newman letter:Representative Marie Newman is leading an important letter to urge the Biden Administration to stop Israel’s imminent plan to forcibly displace nearly 2,000 Palestinians in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Al-Bustan and Sheikh Jarrah. The letter will be sent to Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Wednesday, so please ask your representative to join the letter today!
- Publicly condemn Israel’s attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem and Gaza.Many members of Congress have issued press releases or social media posts condemning Israel’s attacks. Call on your representative to join them.
While the videos of tear gas and sound grenades are heartbreaking and enraging, the imagery of tens of thousands of Palestinians praying Taraweeh with resilience fills us with hope and commitment.
May our faith be as steadfast as theirs; while they brave a military assault, they remain unwavering. May our support for their struggle be unwavering.
Dr. Osama Abuirshaid
JCRC Condemns Rocket Attacks and Violence in Jerusalem
“JCRC is watching the recent escalation of violence in Jerusalem with great sadness. The clashes, including at the Temple Mount, are heartbreaking, with hundreds injured. Jerusalem has been a sacred city and home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike for millennia, and residents of all faiths must have the freedom to worship. Calls for restraint, condemnation of violence, and actionable measures to de-escalate the situation are necessary at this time to prevent the crisis from metastasizing further.
Additionally, we strongly condemn the reckless rocket fire and incendiary balloon attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups from Gaza toward civilians inside Israel, including the cities of Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and other areas in the south. Israel, like any sovereign nation, has the right to protect its civilians. We mourn the loss of all innocent life and hope for a quick resolution to this crisis.
Thank you for your support,”
Northern California Islamic Council Statement: Statement Condemning Evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah And Desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
United Methodist Background: from Mark Harrison, Director, Peace with Justice Program of the UMC General Board of Church and Society:
“In Jerusalem, over 1,500 Palestinians are facing the threat of forced displacement and home demolitions by Israeli settlers working in collusion with the Israeli government. As the spokesperson for the settlers of Sheikh Jarrah brazenly admitted, Israeli settler home theft is “a continuation of the Zionist project,” which has always been executed “at Arabs’ expense” and required the expulsion of Palestinians from their land. The Nakba never ended; what is happening in Jerusalem in 2021 is an extension of the same settler-colonial project — Zionism — that forcibly displaced 1 million Palestinians in 1948.
This Nakba Day, we want to educate the world about the struggles of Palestinians in Jerusalem and emphasize that the Nakba is an ongoing process unraveling in the present rather than a finite event in the past. We also want to demonstrate Jewish solidarity with the Palestinians of Jerusalem and counteract the Israeli settler narratives that their violence serves and represents all Jews and Judaism. To these ends, we’re making signs and taking pictures of ourselves with them to share on social media!”
American Friends of Combatants For Peace statement: by their Executive Director, Beth Shuman.*
I find myself terrified and heartbroken, witnessing the devastation on the ground in Palestine and Israel. Dozens of Palestinian families face forced eviction from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem – in a continuation of the apartheid policies that devalue and dehumanize my friends and community. For weeks, protesters were resisting this brutal attempt at forced displacement, but were met with extreme aggression from Israeli military forces. Then last night tension escalated again when rockets were fired between Israel and Gaza. Nine innocent children were killed last night, and the rockets have continued today. The past cannot be undone, but we can and must build a better future together.
Take action against oppression and violence. Join our movement. The Nakba Remembrance Ceremony this Saturday will be followed by a briefing on the situation in Sheikh Jarrah and the circumstances on the ground. Join our fight for peace, equality and freedom. We need you.”
American Friends of Combatants for Peace
(*Rev. Will McGarvey serves on the Advisory Council of AFCFP with other faith leaders around the world.)
Kristel Letchert, a Dutch Tour Guide living outside Bethlehem, does podcasts with The Institute of Middle East Understanding:What is happening in Jerusalem?
“In 1948 some 800,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes. Twenty-eight Palestinian families made a deal that year with the UN and the Jordanian government, then governing East Jerusalem, to provide homes for them. These houses were in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, named after Saladin’s personal doctor who liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders. They paid symbolic rent for the first three years. After that, the houses would become their property. This did not go entirely according to plan and by the time Israel occupied East Jerusalem, things had not been properly arranged.
Since the 1970s, there has been a law that allows Jewish residents of Israel to claim pre-1948 property in court. With this law in hand, Jewish settlers went to court claiming possession of the land on which the homes of these families stand.
It is important to realize that Palestinians who lost their homes in 1948 CANNOT use this law. It is also important to understand that the Court is part of the State of Israel that was established from the beginning for a purpose; to give as many Jewish residents a place in Israel as possible and to expel as much of the non-Jewish population as possible.
The lawsuits against the 28 Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah district, an upright neighborhood by the way, for the intellectual Palestinian elite, have not been heard in 1 court case. This strategy has been used to prevent the families from standing up as a unit for their cause. Meanwhile 6 of the families have been evicted from their home. Today, Monday 10th of May, the court would discuss the expulsion of a number of other families. This hearing has been postponed due to the unrest in the city.
The unrest started with the Israeli deposits of parts of the old city center at the start of the month of Ramadan. Palestinian youth posted videos on Tik Tok in which they harassed settlers who had taken over houses from Palestinians in the inner city. The colonists and police responded with much violence. After Palestinian youth removed the barriers blocking their entrance to the city, a feeling of new courage arose among the youth, who grew up under military occupation.
They decided to support the families in Sheikh Jarrah. They participated in iftar meals to break the fast at the end of the day. This was not tolerated by the authorities and again they used a lot of violence against peaceful protestors.
During the evening prayers in the Aqsa mosque last Friday, visitors to the mosque were attacked by the Israeli police and military. A close friend who lives near the mosque reported hearing as many as 50 sound bombs per minute. There was also shooting with tear gas. More than 200 Palestinians were injured in hospital. 18 Israeli agents were injured.
And if it wasn’t enough, Monday May 10 is also Jerusalem Day, the day on which radical settlers pass through Jerusalem. With flags, armed, chanting, to celebrate the 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem by Israel. This gives tension every year, but now the city is already on fire.
This morning early started with violence by the Israeli forces at the Aqsa mosque where many people were attacked, injured, suffered from tear gas and sound bombs. These were peaceful worshippers, visitors to the mosque, people who had stayed overnight to protect the mosque. But also journalists were targeted as well as people serving the Red Crescent, paramedics.
In the meantime several settlers were attacked by Palestinians as they were trying to gather for the Jerusalem march, a very provocative march through the occupied part of the city. The settlers claim their ownership and publicly call for ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem.
In a podcast I recently heard, David Neuhaus, the leader of the Catholic Jesuits in Jerusalem and of Jewish descent, said, “No one can own Jerusalem, the city owns its people.” This really affected me. I am a non-Jewish and also a non-religious immigrant in Jerusalem. I didn’t grow up here, but I do raise my children here. I live in the same house with my in-laws. I am immersed in the culture and traditions of a Palestinian family in a Palestinian neighborhood with many generations of history in Palestine. And like me, there are many migrants in Jerusalem.
While studying history and guiding at Bethlehem Bible College, I learned about the many rulers who came and went. The merchants, the pilgrims, the soldiers and the travelers who came and stayed here and mingled with the locals.
Jerusalem cannot be claimed by one group of people. Jerusalem belongs to everyone and everyone belongs to Jerusalem.”
Christian for Middle East Peace statement: (CMEP) Condemns Violence in Jerusalem and Calls for the Biden Administration to Intervene Immediately
Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church USA condemns recent violence gripping the Holy Land – calls on U.S. government to take active role in defusing situation
Office of the General Assembly
May 13, 2021
We have watched with shock and dismay the violence that is once again ripping apart the Holy Land and its peoples, and we are deeply concerned about a further escalation. We send our condolences to the families of the deceased and our prayers for healing to those who have been injured.
However, being “deeply concerned” does not go far enough in understanding the root causes of this current crisis. The situation that existed in Jerusalem prior to this latest flare-up was already untenable.
On April 22, Israeli Jews from the Jewish supremacist group Lehava gathered in West Jerusalem at Zion Square and marched to East Jerusalem, chanting “Death to Arabs.” The march was in response to what they claimed were attacks on Jews, which had been filmed and posted to the social media app TikTok. The violence comes amid almost daily clashes between Israelis and Palestinians during what is the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims.
There are several incidents that happened prior to this latest round of violence, including:
– the inability for Palestinian Arab Christians to access the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on “the Saturday of Light” (May 1), and to participate in the Holy Fire ritual at the church. They were prevented from reaching the church by Israeli security forces.
– the ongoing dispute in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where land and houses being claimed by Israeli Jews as property belonging to Jews before 1948 remains a powder keg. Upward of 50 Palestinians stand to be displaced if the Israeli High Court rules in favor of the Israeli Jewish plaintiffs.
These are just a few of the incidents that have provoked violence and displacement in the region.
No country can, nor should, tolerate random acts of violence against its citizens by those wishing to take the law into their own hands. Yet one cannot ignore the structures that currently exist in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, where a well-orchestrated, planned and calculated system has been engineered to subject one group of people to a system that has now been likened to apartheid, while allowing another group of people to dominate.
All across the West Bank, a road system of bridges, tunnels and underpasses is currently being constructed to ensure Israeli domination over the Palestinian population who lives there.
We state unequivocally that these are crimes against humanity, and we cannot and will not remain silent while such a system is allowed to perpetuate itself. Israel can no longer act with impunity in these territories and continue to settle its own civilian population beyond the green line and continue to apply its own set of laws there while claiming that these same citizens need “security.”
As people of faith, we must condemn violence in all its forms. Random acts of violence against one person or group over another, state-sponsored terrorism, the firing of rockets at civilian population centers and the heavy-handed aerial bombardment of civilian neighborhoods in densely populated locales are criminal and are not in keeping with God’s wish for God’s people.
Hamas cannot continue to fire its homemade rockets at will toward Israel. In the end, violence will beget violence and the civilian death toll will only increase. We outright reject this indiscriminate use of force.
Likewise, we condemn the ongoing racist settler-colonial mentality that continues to dominate the Israeli psyche, and that plays itself out daily, in subjecting the Palestinian population to that of second-and third-class citizens — both inside Israel as well as in the West Bank and Gaza — and that treats them as less than human. Such thinking only continues to perpetuate a regime that cannot and will not last.
All of these actions are crimes against humanity.
On May 15, Palestinians will mourn — not celebrate — Nakba Day, remembering “the catastrophe” that befell them in 1948, 73 years ago, when upward of 750,000 people were either forcibly evicted from or fled their homes and villages in the wake of fighting. In their minds, the continued system of expulsion and uprooting of individuals from their homes is a continuation of this catastrophe.
We pray for a just and equitable solution to the current situation unfolding, and we ask the international community to intervene to ensure that International Humanitarian Law be applied to the occupied Palestinian Territories.
We stand alongside our partners and friends from the Christian communities of Jerusalem, who have stated that “the actions undermining the safety of worshippers and the dignity of the Palestinians who are subject to eviction are unacceptable” and that “these concerning developments violate the sanctity of the people of Jerusalem and of Jerusalem as the City of Peace.”
We stand with our friends at Rabbis for Human Rights, who have stated that “as believing Jews, as rabbis, we cannot stand idle. The idea of Jewish supremacy is so foreign to our values, found in the Bible, to love and respect the ‘stranger’ — the Other — equally created in the divine image.”
We stand with people of conscience everywhere, who say with a loud voice “enough is enough.”
We call on Congress and the current U.S. administration to take a more active role in seeking to calm the current situation and a more proactive role in the future in helping to resolve — not just manage — the conflict that continues to divide Israelis and Palestinians.
Specifically, we ask that the administration press Israel to halt the forced displacement of families in Sheikh Jarrah and across the occupied Palestinian territories. In addition, we ask that the administration investigate whether U.S.-made weapons and equipment were used in Israel’s demolitions of Palestinian homes and property in violation of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976.
We ask members of Congress to support the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act (HR 2590), introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), to prohibit the use of U.S. funds to support the military detention of children, the demolition of Palestinian homes and the further annexation of Palestinian territory. And we ask Congress to hold Israel to the same human rights standards as other nations.