Dear Peacemaking Friends,What follows is a statement on the tragedy in Gaza developed by the Interfaith Peace Working Group. If you agree with this statement, we encourage you to sign it and be a part of this peace witness of people and communities of faith in Wisconsin. You can read the statement below and add your name by clicking here.
–Interfaith Peace Working Group
We, members and leaders of communities of faith and conscience in Wisconsin, have joined together to bring a unified moral voice to the human catastrophe in Gaza and the increasing violence throughout Israel and Palestine. We represent the voices of many others in our local communities of faith and conscience who grieve the deaths of so many human beings in what many of us call the “Holy Land.”
We grieve both the decades of Israeli occupation and oppression in the West Bank and Gaza and the violent attacks of Palestinian groups on Israelis. We are horrified by the brutal October 7th Hamas attack on Israelis. We are also horrified by the retaliatory massacre by Israel’s powerful Defense Forces of tens of thousands of people in Gaza and the West Bank. Our hearts go out to both the Israelis and Palestinians who have lost loved ones and to the Palestinians who are still suffering from Israel’s continued attacks on Gaza.
This is what we know has occurred in the land that holds so many stories central to our understanding of our Creator God:
On October 7, 2023, over 1100 Israelis and foreign nationals, nearly two thirds of whom were civilians, were killed, tortured or taken forcefully to Gaza to be used as hostages by Hamas.
In retaliation, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, two thirds of whom are women and children, have been and are being killed.
2.3 million people in Gaza have suffered the total destruction of their communities. Entire neighborhoods, schools, houses of worship, cultural centers and even hospitals have been destroyed. All has been turned to rubble.
The civilians of Gaza are being deliberately deprived of clean water, food, shelter, medicine, and medical care. Without these basic necessities, many of those who survived the bombings and displacements are starving, freezing or dying of illnesses brought on by the conditions created by Israel’s massive military attack on Gaza.
Attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank by settlers provided with guns by the Israeli government and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have also increased, resulting in injury, displacement, and death.
As people of faith, we believe we must bring our various faiths to bear on this disaster by:
Uplifting the Torah value of t’selem Elohim, the Divine Image. Every human life is a reflection of God and has infinite value.
Uplifting the value of the agape love of Jesus, an active, unconditional and inclusive love that is built on justice for all of God’s children.
Uplifting the value of ‘adl (justice). The Quran calls upon us to “uphold justice and bear witness to God, even if it is against yourselves, parents or close relatives.”
We plead with our communities to save precious human lives on all sides of this conflict by:
Petitioning the President and Wisconsin’s US senators and congressional representatives to demand that they support an immediate and permanent ceasefire, an immediate end to US financial and military support for Israel’s continued attacks on Gaza, an increase in humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, and an end to settlers’ and Israeli Defense Forces’ attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Calling on our government to insist on the safe release of all Israeli and international hostages being held by Hamas and all Palestinians being held by Israel for acts of nonviolent political resistance or protest.
Urging our governmental leaders to convene or participate in an international conference convened by others to work towards the development of a just and lasting peace agreement in the Holy Land. We believe that such an agreement must guarantee the human rights and security of all the region’s inhabitants. To do so, it must include provisions that ensure authentic Palestinian self-determination and deny governing authority to any persons or organizations that support genocidal actions against the Palestinian or Jewish people.
Rejecting and denouncing all forms and expressions of antisemitism and Islamophobia in our communities, especially in the rhetoric of politicians and White Christian Nationalists.
We invite all people and communities of faith and conscience to sign this statement and join the effort to bring about an immediate, permanent ceasefire in Gaza and a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.