The celebration of the move of the USA embassy to Jerusalem was in stark contrast to the mood on the Palestinian side, where the demonstrations against the move resulted in killing of over 50 Palestinians today in Gaza and the West bank by the Israeli soldiers. This effectively may have put an end to the dream of having Israeli-Palestinian peace in our lifetime.
This AP video shows the contrast in the mood. https://nyti.ms/2GhTU78. The video can also be found in NY Times coverage of the killings.
The response from the White House was not unexpected. The Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah in his official statement put the blame on, you guessed it, Palestinians and Hamas.
The responsibility for these tragic deaths rest squarely with Hamas”… “Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response.
Yeah, when in doubt, blame the victims.
This blind support prompted Ben Wedeman to conclude:
Under the Trump administration, the United States has utterly abandoned any pretext of evenhandedness. And the Palestinians have been abandoned altogether.
My last two posts were related to Jewish-Muslim relations (Islamic Golden Age- Jewish Muslim Relations and Its Fall and Anti-Semitism- 7 Reasons You Should Be Happy You Are Not a Jew). The purpose of these articles was to raise awareness to the Jewish-Muslim relationship that existed in the Islamic golden age as a lesson to improve relations today, as well as highlight the prejudice against the Jews today. The underlying theme was to help promote understanding, and build bridges between Muslims and Jews, and to counter Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
Moving the US embassy to Jerusalem in violation of the International laws and the resulting protests and the killings of the Palestinians made the work of Interfaith and peace workers that much more difficult.
You may argue that the state of Israel is a secular state and its actions have nothing to do with Judaism or Interfaith work. You may also argue that criticizing Israel in itself may be viewed as anti-Semitic.
As the progressive Christian blogger, Benjamin Corey once stated on a post titled, 5 Reasons Why I am a Christian Who Stopped Supporting Israel few years ago, loving the Jewish people is not the same as loving the state of Israel. Conversely, criticizing Israel is not the same thing as criticizing Jewish people.
Many quickly confuse loving Jewish people with supporting Israel– but a religion/people group and a secular nation state are not the same thing.
However, we can un-link Israel from Jewish life all we want, the truth of the matter is that such actions by Israeli forces (and the usual blind support from US officials) do fuel further anti-Semitism. If you are really worried about rising anti-Semitism, like I am, you would be hard pressed not to criticize Israel’s actions and brutal use of force. And whether or not it results in further anti-Semitism, fair-minded people would still call Israel out for their hard-handed approach to the Palestinians and their occupation and oppression of a people.
One of the most important tasks of Interfaith workers is to fight for justice and dignity of all people. This is entirely consistent with the teachings of Abrahamic faiths- Islam, Christianity and Judaism. (As well as all other religions I know of).
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice,witnesses for God, even though it may be against your own selves or (your) parents or near relatives; if he be rich or poor, Allah is nearer to them both in compassion… The Qur’an 4:135
You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger (foreigner), for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not ill-treat any widow or orphan. If you do mistreat them, I will heed their outcry as soon as they cry out to Me, and My anger shall blaze forth and I will put you to the sword, and your own wives shall become widows and your children orphans. Exodus 22:20-23
Yes, we should strive to promote interfaith understanding, harmony and peace, but staying silent or “neutral” does not mean we stay silent for the fear of causing friction- because silence is supporting injustice.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Desmond Tutu
Let us hope and pray that cooler heads will prevail and no further lives will be lost- though it seems wishful thinking at this time. The least we can do is to raise our voice against oppression and occupation. Not doing so will tantamount to injustice. Let’s hope, pray and work for the dignity of people of both sides, so Palestinians and Israelis can live side by side in peace and with mutual respect.
Let’s keep the dream alive.