JVP Rabbinical Council: Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Over the past four days, the community of Jewish Voice for Peace rabbis has watched Israeli armed forces in full riot gear beating unarmed Muslim worshippers saying prayers for Ramadan at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Our hearts go out to our Muslim siblings whose Ramadan prayers were so brutally disrupted.

We deplore the Israeli government’s decision to introduce senseless violence to a prayer space.

We note the provocative attempts by a small, Jewish sect to sacrifice a Paschal lamb on the Temple Mount. While we applaud the prevention of this inflammatory scheme, the subsequent armed incursion into this Muslim sacred space was both unnecessary and unacceptable.

The Israeli government polices Jerusalem, and is responsible for this escalation of violence. This Ramadan/Easter/Passover the Israeli government again betrayed its trust with the world’s Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

The Western Wall separates Muslim and Jewish sacred space in Jerusalem. The violation of Muslim sacred space by the Israeli armed forces is representative of the broader situation in Palestine/Israel. For Palestinians, there is the constant threat of violence and restricted access. However, for Israeli Jews, the State of Israel guarantees freedom of assembly and the right to worship and move freely.

For the fourth time in a week, and the third day in a row, the Israeli military physically attacked worshipping Muslims in Al Aqsa Mosque to clear the way for Jews to enter one of the holiest sites in Islam. Meanwhile, the Israeli police allow no Muslims to approach the Jewish side of the Western Wall. The religious and racial discrimination practiced by the State of Israel could not be more stark: Palestinians are not free even in their own space; Jews are free in Jewish sacred space and in Palestinian spaces.

On this Festival of Freedom we reflect how strange it is that the ancient words of the Passover Haggadah and Torah about senseless brutality resonate with attacks meted out by our fellow Jews in Israel. And with the Torah, we turn to each and every Israeli soldier involved in violent attacks on Palestinians and challenge them as Moses did when he witnessed wanton violence:

?לָמָָה תִִַכֶֶּה רֵעֶךָ  Lamah takeh re’ekha?

Why do you strike your fellow human being?

(ֵExodus 2:13)



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