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The Interfaith Center at the Presidio
Two Bay Area interfaith organizations, SiVIC (Silicon Valley Interreligious Council) and ING (Islamic Networks Group) have issued statements on the current situation in Gaza and its impact on relationships between religious communities here and around the world. The Council for a Parliament of the World”s Religions has likewise called for peace and Justice.
It is in the difficult times that the basic principles of interfaith work are tested, and the relationships built over time enable lines of communication to be opened. The Interfaith Center at the Presidio supports the work these groups and others in our community and around the world do to build relationships of respect and cooperation.
On the Gaza Conflict
July 22, 2014
As events continue to unfold in Israel and Gaza, we in the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC) are grieved by the human cost and suffering occasioned by the current conflict. While members of our community may lean more toward support for Israel or for Gaza, together we know how important it is for us to maintain connections and dialogue with one another, especially when some would polarize the debate and end discussion.
Regardless of our individual stances, we share a recognition of our common humanity and a conviction that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must cease, that there is no violent solution to that conflict, that all human life is valued, and that all parties must cooperate to achieve a just and lasting peace on behalf of God’s children who reside in the land that many of us call holy.
We affirm these guiding principles, articulated during previous armed conflicts in Gaza:
- We acknowledge the long, complex, and painful history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
- We acknowledge the wide range of deeply-held beliefs, and intensely-felt narratives on all sides;
- We mourn the loss of innocent lives in Gaza and in Israel;
- We deplore any invocation of religion as a justification for violence, for the deprivation of people’s dignity, or for the denial of human rights;
- We decry any use of inflammatory rhetoric that demonizes others, fostering hatred and disrespect; and
- We believe that just solutions to the conflict are better served by political and diplomatic means.
Guided by these principles, we recognize the urgent need for the prompt implementation of a just and lasting peace. Toward that end,
- We call upon the United States and the international community to intercede with the goal of helping to establish a permanent cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas;
- We call for an immediate and significant increase in humanitarian aid to address the needs of the people of Gaza, and support for trauma counseling for all those affected; we call upon all parties involved to join in taking responsibility to address those human needs;
- We call upon all parties involved in the conflict to work sincerely and vigorously toward a just and lasting peace that addresses and promotes the national aspirations of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
Statement on Recent Anti-Jewish
and Anti-Muslim Attacks
ING, in line with the principles of justice advocated by all our religious traditions, rejects notions of collective guilt and collective punishment. In situations of violence, whether in Gaza, in Paris, in Brooklyn, or elsewhere, it is all too easy to blame whole peoples and whole communities for the actions of a few. We call in particular on all those critical of Israeli actions to refrain from blaming those actions on the Jewish people as a whole, just as we call on those critical of organizations such as Hamas and those who join us in condemning the attacks in Sarcelles to refrain from blaming Muslims or Arabs as a whole. Every incident of violence should make us turn with greater determination to making peace in our hearts and in our actions with the diversity of peoples, cultures, and faiths in our world.
Parliament of the World’s Religions Stands with Peace and Justice in the Holy Lands
July 24, 2014
The Parliament of the World’s Religions grieves whenever violence and conflict flares, as is now occurring in Palestine and Israel. Grief, however, must not paralyze faith communities and the interfaith movement into silence and inaction. Instead, we are called to serve as moderating agents in the cause of sustainable justice, unconditional compassion, and enduring peace by raising our voices against those who seek the annihilation of their enemies.
The Parliament, therefore, asks religious and spiritual communities across the globe, and the interfaith movement specifically, to be vocal and active in:
- calling both sides to end the war in an ethical manner, including the ending of the seven-year blockade of Gaza, with borders monitored by the United Nations to ensure safety for Israelis as well as Palestinians
- asking world leaders to take concrete steps, with urgency, to ensure the freedom, self-determination, security, and equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis
- calling the United Nations to ensure that both sides abide by international laws and human right accords in safeguarding civilians, with special attention given to children
- requesting both sides to recognize the humanity of the other and to honor their sacred spaces
The Parliament of the World’s Religions encourages all faith communities and especially the interfaith movement to actively expose and challenge anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in their neighborhoods, cities, and in the public discourse. Let us be moderating voices and agents that will revitalize the dialogue and cooperation between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. This mission should be a part of our sermons, prayers, and civic action.
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