Which Lives Matter?

MPAC hosts interfaith leaders standing in solidarity for Human Rights and Human Dignity of Palestinians

June 24, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CA - Wednesday, 23 June 2021Muslim-Jewish-Christian faith leaders, convened for a special interfaith event to discuss the United States’ inability to acknowledge human rights and civil liberties of those in Palestine, through continued support for the Israeli occupation. This interfaith event was shadowed by the recent violence in Israel with the end of a 4-week ceasefire, airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, and persistent militarization and occupation in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah. Hedab Tarifi, of the Islamic Center of Southern California noted the double standard in the U.S. government’s treatment and fiscal support of the Israeli military in comparison with Palestinian forces. She stated, “Attacking Palestinians, that's okay. Israeli lives matter. Palestinian lives don't matter. That is the message I got and that is the message all people of faith who are standing for human rights and justice and for the Palestinian rights, to dignity, to living and practicing their faith like all other faiths.”

Many leaders noted the importance of interfaith solidarity on the situation in Palestine, emphasizing that it is pertinent to stay unified on principles of justice and religious freedom. Darrel Myers, a representative from the Middle East Fellowship of Southern California, reminded interfaith leaders in the United States to listen to the marginalized voices in Palestine, as their insight can command direct action and inform the U.S. government to create change. He stated, “It's time that we start listening as we've been saying that the Palestinian people are human beings too. 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. And as a Christian, I remind you that Christians in Palestine are also standing with their Palestinian Muslim brothers and sisters and saying we are for justice and peace.”

Although acknowledging that a solution to the crisis in Palestine is complex, choosing direct and sustainable action over inaction should not be a difficult task. President and Founder of the Institute for Religious Tolerance, Peace and Justice, Dr. Arik Greenberg expresses the importance of standing in solidarity with Palestinians, “Those of us here in Los Angeles, people of every faith and elsewhere around the world must stand together and demand a ceasefire and demand justice. Rather than taking the side of one combatant over another, we must take the side of peace, the side of God.”

Similarly, Head Rabbi of Temple Beth Shir Shalom, Neil Commes Daniels discussed the inhumane dehumanization of Palestinian people, and how the U.S. government holds the power to change this narrative:

When the Israeli military and police act the way they do to Palestinians, treating them as less than human. Treating them with indignity. Treating them as things. 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. There needs to be a coming together. The United States needs to wield its power to calm things down. Not to say that one side is superior to the other and one side deserves more defense than the other.

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, MPAC President Salam Al Marayati stated, “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 to develop a resolution.” In order to achieve enduring peace in Palestine, interfaith leaders must continue to stand in solidarity for human rights and human dignity.



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