Interfaith groups call for the protection of Palestinians’ freedom of worship in Jerusalem
We, the undersigned, come together in solidarity with Palestinians, especially those who have been prohibited from worshiping in peace and security at the Al Aqsa mosque sanctuary due to the escalation of Israeli settler violence, which is supported by the Israeli police and military.
As a diverse community and as Americans we sincerely believe in freedom of worship for all people. This is not a religious conflict between Muslims and Jews. Nor is this a conflict about access to space to pray as the settler groups have said. This is a struggle between an occupier and an occupied people. The tensions arise because of provocations from the Temple Movement, a loose coalition of several messianic, extremist Jewish groups – backed by Israeli authorities — intent on seizing control of the Al Aqsa sanctuary for themselves. Palestinian Christians also are prohibited from accessing their churches in Jerusalem and frequently find themselves targets of settler price tag attacks as well.
High-ranking Israeli officials have threatened to take Al Aqsa’s sovereignty from the Jordan-based Islamic Trust. Bills circulating in the Israeli Knesset and Jerusalem Municipality, if successful, effectively would expel Palestinians from portions of the sanctuary, including a large percentage of Al Aqsa mosque itself. This all leads to a climate of fear and great instability, which could spill over into the larger Muslim world if these measures come to fruition.
Religious freedom is guaranteed under international law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is also enshrined in American law, which obligates recipients of US foreign military financing assistance to protect the freedom of religious worship.
As Americans, we believe in our enshrined values that emphasize the freedom of religion and the freedom of worship. And as Americans, we are gravely concerned that provocative Israeli policies, which are included in the 2013 State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, will reflect badly on our image and standing throughout the global community.
Together, we call upon President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry to hold Israel to the same human rights standards to which we hold other foreign aid recipients. We also ask Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry to uphold the inalienable rights of religious freedom Americans hold so dear to ensure Palestinians are allowed to worship in peace and security.
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)
Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Muslim American Society (MAS)
Islamic Circle of North American (ICNA)
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC)
US Palestine Community Network (USPCN)
Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA (IPMN)
Chicago Faith Coalition for Middle East Policy (CFCMEP)
Arab Jewish Partnership for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ