What's So Different?

America and the Holy Land share this in common: The struggle for justice, human rights and civil liberties.

June 24, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CA - Wednesday, 23 June 2021 - Amidst rising tensions in the Middle East, Muslim-Jewish-Christian faith leaders convened for a special interfaith event and addressed the shared struggles Palestinians and Americans hold for justice, civil rights, and civil liberties. The continued escalation of violence following a 4-week ceasefire, with airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, and persistent militarization and occupation in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah further illustrates why these parallels should move the U.S. government to act with urgency. The fight against systemic racism and injustice in the United States is met with the same state-sanctioned militarization and violence that those in Palestine are met with when fighting against occupation. As Reverend Mike Kinman, Rector at All Saints Church, noted, “...they [community members in Ferguson, 2014] were met by police in military gear who shot tear gas canisters at them. And one of the people there picked up the tear gas canister and took a picture of it and tweeted it out. And someone in Palestine saw that picture and tweeted a picture in return of the same tear gas canister that had been shot at them by IDF forces.”

Throughout the gathering, leaders from each Abrahamic faith emphasized the belief that drives meaningful change where governments fail to respond. As MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati noted, “Much like what happened with George Floyd, the government didn't react until the people forced the government to change. This is what's going to have to happen here. The governments are not going to act until the people force a change.” Interfaith leaders must take an unwavering stance that the systems of violence and oppression in the United States and Palestine must end. Leaders emphasized that we must continue to preach the universal truths of freedom and justice at home and abroad.

Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Cohen from the American Jewish University exemplified this interfaith unity by stating, “The result of the ongoing decades-long oppression, suppression, repression of Palestinian citizens of Israel and especially Palestinians in the West Bank who are not citizens and have no rights as civilians. 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.”

Echoing Cohen’s sentiment Umar Hakim-Dey, Director of Intellect Love Mercy (ILM) Foundation, shared:

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.

MPAC brought together a coalition of Interfaith Leaders to condemn this intersectional abuse once and for all. Just as justice for George Floyd required mass protest from the people, we need the people to rise up and call for justice for Palestine. America’s oppressive legacy towards Black and Indigenous communities is being mirrored in real-time in Israel. Captured succinctly by Salam Al-Marayati “We can't say “If we only knew”... we know. The question is if we can only act. We are here together to stand for religious freedom. To stand for justice, to stand against the occupation.” If we turn a blind eye yet again, this unsustainable cycle of aggression will continue to churn. Just as we have united in America against our own injustices, we must unite against the injustices of the Israeli government and demand justice, compassion, and human dignity for Palestinians.



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