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Terrorism and War in Israel

Terrorism and War in Israel

Southside Faith Communities Public Statement of Support for our Neighbors and Friends

October 12, 2023

As we write this, we know that both Israelis and Palestinians are living in a state of terror, as war rains down on civilians on both sides. We also know that the horrific violence in Israel and Gaza is exacerbating the fear of Jews, Muslims, and Palestinians living around the world, including here in Birmingham. As an interfaith organization, we focus our energies on what unites us, because unity is how we bring about transformational change in Birmingham and beyond.

With one voice, we condemn all acts of terror. The actions of Hamas this past week were indefensible, targeting Israeli young people, families, and children, and endangering the lives of the Palestinian people by calling down war upon them. That war is made of complex layers, generational trauma, and the human quest for survival on both sides. 

While we do not all agree on the political issues involved, these things we agree on:

  • Children should never be considered allowable collateral damage.
  • The elderly and disabled and unarmed civilians should be off limits.
  • Celebrating the death of enemies is antithetical to our faithful calls to peace.
  • Human rights abuses should not be tolerated; kidnapping, rape, depriving citizens of basic survival needs, including freedom of movement.
  • Our Jewish, Muslim, and Christian neighbors in Birmingham are suffering, and many are afraid. They are afraid for their families still abroad, and they are afraid for their safety in Birmingham.

We condemn all acts of terrorism on our Jewish, Muslim, and Christian neighbors, including threats to our houses of worship, like the recent threat to Temple Emanu-El. We condemn anti-Semitism and hate in all its forms.

Each of us, in our own traditions, is challenged to love our neighbor and honor our common humanity. Each life lost is a tragedy and each day that war threatens and disintegrates is a stain on our collective soul. We pray for all of those who have lost loved ones. We pray for justice as described by the prophet Zechariah: God’s command to administer true justice, showing mercy and compassion to one another.

It’s times like these that we need to consciously choose love. Love will be our strength and our uniting force. We choose empathy and we choose justice over hatred and perpetual retaliation.   We believe in Birmingham. We believe we can rally one another and support one another even as we watch the devastation abroad. We can be a model of peace, as we pray and work for peace in the most troubled parts of this world.