In the wake of an Israeli-Gaza cease-fire that may have been forced on both parties, Britain’s Jews and Muslims have issued a joint call for peace.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews “exists to promote and defend the religious and civil liberties of British Jewry,” according to the mission statement on the group’s website. “As the community’s democratically elected cross-communal organisation, the Board connects with Government, media and wider society, providing a unique means through which all British Jews can be heard and represented.”
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) “is an independent body established to promote consultation, cooperation and coordination on Muslim affairs in the United Kingdom.” The group describes itself in a statement on its website as a “non-sectarian body working for the common good without interfering in, displacing or isolating any existing Muslim work in the community. It is a broad-based, representative organisation of Muslims in Britain…pledged to work for the common good of society as a whole…”
The joint statement issued by the two groups was unprecedented and condemned anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. It was entitled, ‘British Jews and Muslims Call for Peace, Wisdom and Hope over Conflict in Israel and Palestine.’
The text of the statement, released Wednesday, read as follows:
There is no doubt that Muslims and Jews have deeply held views about the conflict in Israel and Palestine. We acknowledge that our communities may disagree about the origins, current reasons and solutions to end the conflict. But there are also points of agreement.
The death of every civilian is a tragedy, and every effort should be taken to minimise such losses. The targeting of civilians is completely unacceptable and against our religious traditions. We pray for a speedy end to the current conflict and for a lasting peace for all.
In spite of the situation in the Middle East, we must continue to work hard for good community relations in the UK. We must not import conflict. We must export peace instead.
Whilst everyone has the right to voice their political opinion, be that in a rally or on social media, we must be mindful of how we convey our protest. There can be no excuse for racism, violence, or other forms of intimidation, when expressing views in the media, on the streets, outside shops or online.
We condemn any expression of Antisemitism, Islamophobia or any form of racism. We call for Muslim and Jewish communities to redouble efforts to work together and get to know one another.
We need constructive dialogue to limit our disagreements and identify the widest possible range of areas for cooperation. There are more issues that unite us than divide us.
May the God of Abraham grant our World more peace, wisdom and hope.
Reportedly there was, however, some disagreement over one line of the text: that which condemns the targeting of civilians.
Both groups agree that such behavior is “a tragedy” and “completely unacceptable and against our religious traditions.” But the Jewish group said it was willing to sign the document because it had no reference to mutuality of targeting civilians, since “it’s a known fact the IDF does not deliberately target civilians.” The Muslim group said it was willing to sign because it believed the document held both sides responsible for the same behavior.