As Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr and Jews prepare to celebrate Shavuot, the Interfaith Center of New York offers our deepest condolences to the families of Palestinian and Israeli civilians who have died in rocket fire and bombings during the past several days of fighting and escalation. For the loved ones of over 80 Palestinians in Gaza and 7 Israeli citizens, their grief will be unique — knowing no faith or particular nationality. We join the Secretary-General of Religions for Peace, Azza Karam, in calling for an end to the killing: “Violence breeds more violence,” she writes, “increases human suffering, and delays the long, hard work of building a just peace. This violence is — further and deadly — evidence of failed leadership, in every sense.”
While recognizing that the origins of this conflict run deep and that ending its violent expression is paramount, as an organization that has historically promoted religious freedom, the Interfaith Center of New York seeks to amplify the Parliament of the World’s Religions message deploring “acts of violence done within sacred spaces or to people on the way to and from sacred spaces; whether Al-Aqsa Mosque, a synagogue in Lod, or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.” We pray for an end to the violence, and a world in which all can practice their faith without fear.
For years, the Interfaith Center of New York has issued statements condemning religiously fraught conflict and injustice around the world and across our nation. However, we believe our most impactful work has always been — and will always be — local. For more than two decades, ICNY has witnessed the unique ability of conflict in the Middle East to wreak havoc on substantive interfaith work here in New York City, fraying the bonds between Jewish and Muslim neighbors who otherwise share mutual respect and common interests. Multifaith coalitions for immigration reform, civic engagement, and a host of other important social issues have been threatened — and at times derailed — by the episodic violence stemming from conflict and injustice in the Holy Land. It is a reminder of the deep differences that exist between us and the real work still to be done in overcoming them.