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. Memories of previous traumas may still haunt us.
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 once again acknowledge the deep attachments of both our Muslim and Jewish sisters to Israel and Palestine. The attacks in Israel over the past few weeks and the attack on worshippers at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem this past Friday have aroused strong feelings among many sisters.
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 encourage our sisters to reach out to each other with compassion. Let us hold each other up through these difficult times.
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 in Ukraine, India, Yemen, Afghanistan and other countries throughout the world. We call for peace and humanity. As our Muslim sisters spend time in prayer, reflection and fasting in the holy month of Ramadan and our Jewish sisters continue to celebrate Passover, we pray that the essence of both time periods 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.
We recognize that these cycles of violence often repeat unabated. Each time violence erupts in the region, it stirs up hard and unpleasant emotions for many of us. Rather than retreat behind walls of hurt and mistrust, we ask that you stay at the table with your fellow Muslim and Jewish sisters, remain in conversation, and take on the challenging work of engaging in difficult conversations. To that end, we have curated a list of resources and tangible actions you can take to honor your relationships with fellow Sisterhood members.
On our website, we have several materials and videos that can support your foray into difficult dialogue. Visit Engaging in Difficult Conversations The Sisterhood-created series of six video modules and accompanying written resources.
In addition to our own resources, we are sharing materials from other organizations doing bridge building work.
- Bridging Difference Playbook by GreaterGood
- Why Social Media Makes Us More Polarized and How to Fix It, Scientific American
- How to Avoid the Social Media Outrage Trap, by GreaterGood
If you, as a community or chapter member or co-leader, are having difficulty approaching these conversations with fellow members, please reach out to Nora Zaki Mantas, Program Manager for Resources and Training, at [email protected] for additional support.
Finally, we are deeply interested in your ideas, your thoughts, your pain. Please feel free to reach out to the national office at [email protected] at any time. We are here for you!
In Peace and Sisterhood,
Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom
April 21, 2022