US Rabbi and Imam Issue Joint Statement on Gaza Conflict

Muslim/Jewish Statement on Gaza and Israel BY RABBI MICHAEL G. HOLZMAN

Joint Statement on Israel/Gaza

July 22, 2014

Imam Mohamed Magid & Rabbi Michael G. Holzman

The current military operations in Israel and the Gaza strip should disturb all people of faith. The only moral path to a solution between Israelis and Palestinians (Israeli Jewish/Muslim/Christian and Palestinian Muslim/Christian) will be dialogue and negotiation. This is a long and arduous path, but the faith that grounds our traditions can sustain the slow evolution of history. The current conflict is an outgrowth of over a century of opposing narratives and ideological differences that no military operations can resolve.

Our traditions  While we acknowledge the need for self defense, when the can of violence opens, as it has now, worms of vengeance and blood-feud crawl out. Then people begin to abandon the principles of justice and mercy upon which civilizations are founded. Instead they turn to more tribal urges, seeking retribution for past wrongs.

We believe the current violence crosses that line. At some point people cease looking for solutions and instead succumb to base human urges for violence. They crave the blood of the enemy to compensate for the pain of loss. This is the way of our animal instincts, the ethos of ancient tribes and clans who exist only to protect all within, while opposing all others. The teachings of our ancestors rose above that thinking long ago to build great civilizations. We believe that when we look to our texts and traditions we can rise above the narrative of suffering and victimization to find roads to healing and wholeness.

The Torah this week teaches of the “Cities of Refuge” (Numbers 35: 6-28) places where a person can flee after an accidental death or manslaughter in order so that relatives of the deceased cannot exact revenge. The one who flees must face criminal justice, and the City of Refuge serves as both a haven and prison for the man slaughterer while restricting the blood thirst of the avenger. The people living in Israel and Gaza can look at the current situation and see only murder and intentional killing, or they can see how decades of hatred breed spontaneous violence. In these heated emotions, our traditions call for cooling off, seeking refuge, and then finding a path to justice. Only through such systems can order and peace be restored.

Several verses from the Quran also give us reminders to work for the protection of life and how to respond with good and forgiveness in times of major challenge and conflict.

“Good and wrong cannot be equal; repel wrong with something which is better and verily he between whom and thyself was enmity may then become as though he had always been a close, true friend.” (Quran 41:34)

The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from God: for (God) loveth not those who do wrong(Quran 42:40)

Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) humans;- for God loves those who do good(Quran 3:134)

“Whoever kills a person, unless [as punishment through due process] for murder or mischief in the land, it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Quran 5:32)

While we do not pretend to know the pain of the mourners, we also urge them to honor their loved ones not through the tribal urge for revenge, but rather to build up societies of justice and mercy.

These values are the cornerstones of civilization and the paving stones to peace. Seeking more blood for blood only perverts and discards the great traditions of Islam and Judaism. We abandoned an “eye for an eye” centuries ago. Now we urge our brothers and sisters in the Middle East to seek a solution that protects the self while fostering compassion for the other.

POSTED JULY 23, 2014 – ‘Northern Virgina Hebrew Congregation’
_______________________________________________________________________________
This posting on Wednesday 23 July, in the United States of America, of an article written by a Jewish Rabbi and a Muslim Imam, commenting on the ideological basis of conflict between Jews and Muslims in Israel and Palestine, should open the eyes of us who are Christians to the acute dilemma which has precipitated the action and reaction of hostilities currently being enacted in the Middle East – in this instance, between the Jewish State and the Palestinians in Gaza.
Both Rabbi Holman, of the N. Virginia Hebrew Congregation and Imam Magid, acknowledging that there are other religious groups involved in both territories, believe that there should be a multi-faith effort to bring about a consultation that would include all people of religious faith into the process of peace-making – as the only way to secure a lasting peace in the area.
What is being suggested by these two clerics on both sides of the arguments, is that both Jewish and Muslim traditions contain elements that “exist to uphold the moral foundations for civilizations and (as such) we urge an end to the current violence.”
Both the Rabbi and the Imam admit that the past history of both Jewish and Muslim communities has been such that the present crisis could have been foreseen: “The current conflict is an outgrowth of over a century of opposing narratives and ideological differences that no military operations can resolve.”
There are also Christians and other religious minorities whose lives are being adversely affected by the present stand-off between Israel and Palestine, and it behoves Christians, as well as Jews and Muslims to do what we can to bring pressure to bear on the international community to bring an end to this humanitarian crisis – which does nothing to ease fears of fundamentalist groups whose intention is to use weapons as a means to establish their spiritual hegemony in various trouble spots around the world.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand
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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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