We, the leadership of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, acknowledge that this is a very difficult time for so many of us. As our newsfeeds fill with disturbing and frightening stories of fear, death, violence, and destruction in Israel and Palestine, it can be natural to retreat to our own corners, and feel protective and defensive and less open to one another’s experience.
As Sisters, we have nurtured our connections and need to dig deep into those relationships now more than ever. We are a Sisterhood that is based on empathy and the establishment of a peaceful future for all. We build trust and respect when we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. For our relationships to be authentic, we see and hear our sisters’ narratives through our hearts, not our ears and eyes.
We acknowledge the deep attachments of both our Muslim and Jewish sisters to Israel and Palestine. The statement sent on May 11th aroused strong feelings among many sisters, both Muslim and Jewish. There was a wide range of responses, reflecting our deep and varied connections to the region and to the issues involved. Some sisters think that the statement was too “pro-Israeli” and there are others who think that the statement was too “pro-Palestinian,” and others felt proud of the Sisterhood taking a stand in response to the violence.
All of us know that Israel/Palestine is the very hardest thing for Jews and Muslims to talk about, even in calmer times. The issue is central to many of our lives, and in times of war and violence, when feelings are high, it is extremely difficult to listen to views very different from our own. The pain we are feeling is the natural consequence of our courage in stepping up to these difficult conversations, and a sign of how deeply we value our relationships with our sisters, even when the work is hard.
We also want to say to all our sisters, that the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom has made a commitment to engage in social action and end acts of hate against all human beings. The pain and death of anyone is the pain and death of all humans. Let us be the Muslim/Jewish organization that manages to thrive with the inspiration of our peace activist partners in the region like Parents Circle and Combatants for Peace who power on and have taught us that “our tears are the same color.”
We, the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, call for a permanent end to the violence in Israel and Palestine, as well as the violence that is erupting around the United States and Europe. We call for peace and humanity. As our Muslim sisters just celebrated Eid and our Jewish sisters just celebrated Shavuot, we pray that the essence of both holidays can enter our hearts and bring us the strength to listen to one another’s narratives with curiosity and empathy, to reach out to our sisters to express concern and love, and to do our part to demand an end to the violence, an end to injustice and an end to living in fear. Janet Penn, Director of Programs, Resource Development, and Training, has crafted an introductory letter and resources for processing the current events in Israel and Palestine as an individual or chapter member. You can find those materials on our website.
Finally, we are deeply interested in your ideas, your thoughts, your pain. Please feel free to reach out to the Central Office at any time. We are here for you!
Israel/Palestine Task Force
Sisterhood of Salam Shalom