A statement on Gaza - and a tool for interfaith outreach

January 19, 2009

While there may be a ceasefire right now, who knows what next week will bring?

An Interfaith Declaration for Peace in Israel and Gaza

Many of us have watched with dismay the unfolding events in the conflict between Israel and Gaza. In response, members and leaders of the Silicon Valley interfaith community have issued a joint "Declaration for Peace," which begins with these words:

We, members and leaders of the Silicon Valley interfaith community, are anguished by the events that have unfolded in Israel and Gaza. While some of us — guided by faith and conscience — may in other venues express stronger statements of sympathy either for Israel or Gaza, we share a commitment to engage with one another, even, and especially, during times of great stress. We also affirm our common humanity and our common belief 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 we call holy.

(Received from, and forwarded with permission of, Rev. D. Andrew Kille via the NAIN mailing list. The full statement can be found on the South Bay Interfaith website )

What I particularly appreciate about this is that it acknowledges differences of opinions at the same time as emphasizing that which unites. If no one in the world cared about this viewpoint, this group still has something very tangible to work towards -- exploring together how they might reach the next level of agreement. And it gives them a tool that can be used in inviting others into the discussion.

I am reminded of something I read in Eboo Patel's blog at the Washington Post:

I spent much of the weekend communicating with Muslim and Jewish leaders on the recent crisis in Gaza. Here was my basic question: "Have you reached out to leaders in the other community to find a solution to the conflict?" Here was the most common answer: "I'd love to talk to people in the other community. Can you give me the phone numbers of folks who agree with our position? If they'll appear with us at a media event, or put their name on our press release, that's even better." That's a perfectly understandable instinct, but it doesn't lead to a solution. It's just a continuation of the logic that has led us here.

This statement from the Silicon Valley interfaith community might help open doors when trying to reach beyond "the logic that has led us here."

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