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Ammar Amonette and Michael Knopf: A call for justice and peace in Israel and Palestine from an imam and a rabbi
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Israel and Palestine

Ammar Amonette and Michael Knopf: A call for justice and peace in Israel and Palestine from an imam and a rabbi

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APTOPIX Israel Palestinians

On Friday, Palestinian Rahaf Nuseir, 10, stood in front of her family’s destroyed home in the northern Gaza strip.

By Ammar Amonette and Michael Knopf

As our respective communities celebrate the Islamic Holy Day of Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) and the Jewish festival of Shavuot (which commemorates the receiving of the Torah), we call upon Muslims, Jews and people of conscience everywhere to denounce the violence between Israel and Palestine, and we welcome the recent news of a cease-fire.

However, while we are glad to see an end to this latest round of bloodshed, it is not enough. We demand that all parties — including our own American government — resume the pursuit of a just and peaceful final resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with bold, proactive and continuous diplomatic engagement.

Our hearts have been broken in recent weeks over the deaths of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, and we deplore the violence and destruction that has erupted in Israeli cities between Jewish- and Palestinian-Israelis, particularly attacks perpetrated by those who falsely claim to speak in the name of Judaism and Islam.

We demand that both governmental leaders and private citizens do everything in their power to de-escalate the conflict and further calm, to protect life and limb, to restore the safety of all and to prevent any damage to sites sacred to people of all faiths.

We call upon Israelis and Palestinians alike to recognize that there ultimately is only one way out of this conflict: a just, negotiated solution that affirms the equal rights and dignity of both peoples.

From our vantage point, we note that this immediate crisis had deep roots in historical and ongoing injustices, most notably in the continuing Israeli occupation and de facto annexation of lands that comprise the legitimate national aspirations of the Palestinian people; in acts of discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of Jerusalem; and also in the rejectionism and acts of violence against Israeli civilians that too often have characterized the Palestinian national movement.

But whatever one’s analysis of the history, it seems clear to us that the status quo in Israel and the Palestinian Territories is both unacceptable and unsustainable.

As long as it is allowed to continue, extremists on all sides will feel empowered, and the potential for violence will remain constant. We therefore call for all sides to lay down their arms and return to the path of dialogue, negotiation and ultimate resolution.

While there are passionate differences of opinion within our respective communities at home and abroad about how best to resolve this long-standing conflict, we believe a good place to begin is remembering that both of our traditions assert that all lives are infinitely sacred.

We therefore grieve with the families of Israelis and Palestinians who have been killed, and we pray for the full and speedy recovery of all who have been wounded. We plead with our coreligionists in Israel and Palestine — and, indeed, around the world — to return to the shared vision of the ancient Hebrew prophets and of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon them all, of a world of inclusion, justice and peace.

Closer to home, we are committed to working together to bring about that world and building bridges of understanding between our respective communities. May all of us come together to bring about a more inclusive, just and peaceful world, speedily and in our days.

Ammar Amonette is the imam at the Islamic Center of Virginia in Richmond. Contact him at: imamicva@gmail.com

Michael Knopf is the rabbi of Temple Beth-El, in Richmond. Contact him at: rabbi.knopf@bethelrichmond.org

The views expressed in this article solely are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of their congregations.

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