Faith Leaders Demand Justice for Palestinian People

May 14, 2021

For Immediate Release
Contact: Raahima Shoaib,

LOS ANGELES, CA - Friday, 14 May 2021 - Muslim-Jewish-Christian faith leaders, convened on Eid al-Fitr for a special interfaith event amidst rising tensions in the Middle East. This event, pinned to the Muslim celebration of Eid to conclude the month Ramadan, was shadowed by the recent violence and violation of religious freedom and human rights for worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati noted, “for [the United States] to preach about religious freedom when it does not consider this to be one of the most important issues on religious freedom only means that it is losing more and more credibility, especially when the U.S. government is financing and protecting this outrageous behavior.”

Throughout the gathering, leaders from each Abrahamic faith emphasized the belief that people drive meaningful change where governments fail to respond. Many called for the US government to make good on its promise of religious freedom. Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Cohen of the American Jewish University urged, “it is time to start realizing that Palestinians have rights in Israel, Palestinians have rights in the West Bank, [and] it is time for the United States to get off the bench and become involved”. Rabbi Cohen further remarked that the Israel-Palestine issue is not a war between Muslims and Jews, but rather “a war between those who think they have a monopoly over the land, between those who think that they are the only [...] religious configuration that counts, and those who think that there are many ways to worship God.”

Others called for equitable treatment and accountability. Hedab Tarifi, a Palestinian-American “born a refugee in [her] own homeland”, highlighted the double standards in how the global media and the United States respond to crises that emerge in Israel and Palestine. “Israeli lives matter, Palestinian lives don’t matter--that is the message I got,” Ms. Tarifi shared.

These leaders, of different faiths and different opinions, were united around the principles of justice, human dignity, and civil rights. For Reverend Mike Kinman, Rector at All Saints Church, referencing the events in Ferguson, Missouri, the violence against Palestinians landed much closer to home:

“The struggle we have for civil rights in this country, a struggle that is ongoing, is deeply related to the struggle for civil and human rights going on in Palestine. The same tear gas canisters are being shot at both sides, and it is so important to note, the same people are profiting on both sides.”

Echoing Reverend Kinman, Umar Hakim-Dey, Director of Intellect Love Mercy (ILM) Foundation, shared:

"Mosques, synagogues, and churches are safe places for believers. Imagine yourself in your safe place, scared to go back outside because now, someone is attacking you. As a Black man in America, I understand what oppression is. As the husband of a South African woman, I understand what oppression is. As an African-American Muslim, I understand what oppression is. In June 2017, nine worshippers were killed in a safe space in Charleston, SC. Is there a correlation there? Yes, the ideology of violence solving a problem with violence."

What was clear in the overarching sentiment shared by the speakers is that the root of the Israeli-Palestinian issue is justice and human dignity. Emphasizing the importance for a shared civil dignity, Rabbi Neil Commes-Daniels of Beth Shir Shalom stated, “there is nothing civil about Hamas hiding itself near schools and hospitals, there is nothing civil about Jews claiming the rights to the entire land and displacing wholly human beings from their homes that they lived in for generations [...] it’s time for Ishmael and Isaac to come back together.”

In a spiritually significant and equally challenging time, a cohort of interfaith leaders gathered on Eid al-Fitr at the Los Angeles office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council to take a united stand demanding justice, compassion, and human dignity for the Palestinian people. Captured succinctly by Reverend Mike Kinman, “We are calling not just for an end to violence, we are calling for an end of the oppression that sparks the violence. When we deny each other that decency, we deny the humanity in ourselves.”

Full remarks available to view here.



Additional Noteworthy Quotes

“The violation of any of these fundamental human rights against any human being must be called what it is. Injustice. Plain and simple. We must call it what it is. Injustice. When human beings are denied the freedom to practice their religion as they wish, we must call it what it is. Injustice. When human beings have their ancestral land confiscated, we must call it what it is. Injustice. When human beings have to watch as their home is bulldozed, we have to call it what it is. Injustice. When human beings are denied freedom of movement, we must call it what it is. Injustice. When human beings are confined to an open-air prison like in Gaza, we must call it what it is. Injustice. When the life of children is snuffed out by bombs raining from the sky, each of these we would call gross human rights violations and injustices here in the United States, unless we are hypocrites. We must use the same moral standard for Israel and Palestine.” 

Rev. Dr. Reinhard Krauss, Executive Director of Academy for Judaic, Christian, and Islamic Studies (AFJCIS)  

“The peace of Jerusalem cannot be some abstract cloudy thing. The peace of Jerusalem has to be the peace in the streets. The peace that lets people live in peace.”

Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Cohen, American Jewish University

“It is us, the people, who care for the people who are in the homeland, who are calling for peace for everybody in the homeland, we are the way it can be shifted.”

Hedab Tarifi, Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC)

“The United States needs to decide that there are no sides, that there is just this place with two peoples with their integrity. With two peoples who deserve their sovereignty. With two peoples who deserve to live as they are, who they are, side by side.”

Rabbi Neil Commes Daniels, Temple Beth Shir Shalom

“Jerusalem is a holy place for all three Abrahamic faiths. The sanctity of the location must be maintained and kept free of violence. The blood of the innocent in Jerusalem will not be forgotten by God.”  

Dr. Arik Greenberg, Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace and Justice (IRTPJ)

“Thank God for the voices that are speaking out. Thank God for the Jewish and Israeli voices that are speaking out against this injustice against the Palestinians. Christians in Palestine are also standing with their Palestinian Muslim brothers and sisters and saying we are for justice and peace.” 

Darrel Meyers, Middle East Fellowship of Southern California

“We're all seeking to establish weight with justice and fall not short of the balance. I’m asking the people of the world to stand in solidarity with Palestine.”

Umar Hakim-Dey, ILM Foundation

“We're unified on the principles of justice. We're unified on the principles of religious freedom. We're unified on the principle that the people will force change because the governments are failing in effecting positive change.”

Salam Al-Marayati, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) 



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