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The Grief, The Anger, The Misunderstandings

We are killing our collective soul.


I am President Emeritus of the Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council (SMAIC) and a month ago, we posted the statement that I include again here (below).  I believe that building community with people of various faith traditions is vital in trying to create a more peaceful world.  During this heart-breaking war, I have been more intentional in spending time listening to religious leaders of various faith traditions.  They have different perspectives, but all are grieving.   Some express themselves openly and others feel that they will be misunderstood. All of us desperately want this war to stop.  In one 24 hour period 1,000 of our siblings were killed in Gaza.  1,000 in one day.  And it is my tax dollars and yours that are funding this terrorism.   


We are a part of the Palestinians and Israelis.  We are all family.  We grieve the actions of Hamas and the actions of the Israeli government.  Paraphrasing the SMAIC statement:

We recognize that Hamas does not reflect the wishes Palestinian people, and the Israeli government does not reflect the wishes of all Israelis, let alone all Jews. Just as the U.S. government does not reflect our wishes. 


Expressing concern about the life of the Palestinian people and the genocide taking place is not Anti-Semitic.  Expressing a love for people in Israel is not Islamophobic.  Denouncing the actions of the United States does not make us unpatriotic.


This war is causing a huge tear in the soul of our collective body.  The fighting is not only in Gaza (and so many other places in the world) but it is among individuals here in the US.  We are grieving and we are angry and our power feels limited. Instead of hearing the pain and brokenness and looking for ways to heal, we are quick to condemn anyone who appears to be rooting for the “wrong team”.   People are dying while we choose to use our energy to condemn one another.  We need to stop.  We all want this war to stop.  The people in Gaza are being terrorized and this trauma will last for generations.  Those who survive are forever traumatized.  In addition, Anti-semitism is real.  And it has ramped up.  A Rabbi friend of mine received an email delineating how gas chambers are now more efficient.  Islamophobia is rampant as well.


Friends, we need to stop dividing people.  The question is not, “why isn’t that group responding in the way I think they should?”, but “what is my best response?” Masses of people are being killed in our name and with our money.  We do need to respond.  We need to write to our elected officials and maybe sit in their offices until they stop funding this war. We need to be in the streets.  But let’s not be the hate we are trying to destroy.  This is a difficult time.  We need to respond in ways that make sense for us, and we need to hold one another in community and love.  How we treat each other while working for justice is important.  Let’s model the kind of community we are working for. 


Working for peace,


Reverend Janet Gollery McKeithen

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