As members of the Fish Interfaith Center staff, we are dedicated to furthering interfaith interaction and developing the spiritual resources for true listening, care, and dialogue. More than ever, we commit ourselves to mutual respect and joint action toward a world where none are subject to violence. We oppose increasing attacks against individuals in the Jewish community in the U.S. in recent days, which can multiply into widespread anti-Jewish sentiment. We condemn violence against Palestinian individuals as well, recognizing this can translate into anti-Islamic sentiment, though we understand Palestinians include Christians, Muslims, and more.

We are saddened by the ignorant simplification and targeting of individuals, and the attacks on individuals of races and religions as a reaction to politically waged violent attacks. We draw a distinction between politics and religion in the Middle East and at home. We recognize that anti-Semitism can broadly refer to hateful prejudice against all Semitic people, including Arabs, although its most common usage is against Jews. We oppose hateful acts and words against all people.

In short, we condemn words and acts of violence against any on the basis of religion or race, and join with those in the worldwide and Chapman communities dedicated to interfaith understanding, peace, and justice among religions.

Below are statements from our Directors of Jewish and Muslim life. Each of our traditions propels us to seek peace even in the midst of disagreement, as we honor every person.

Dean Gail Stearns

As the Director of Muslim life and a chaplain at Chapman University, I condemn the violence the Palestinians of all religions and ethnicities face, an act of anti-Semitism. As a university committed to developing global citizens, students, faculty, and staff we must be a part of demanding justice and accountability on all lands with the hope peace will come.

Unfortunately, there is a terrible existing misconception. Some believe it is now a time to act or speak violently towards people who support or defend Israel. There will be constant disagreement on the Palestinian/Israeli issue. However, verbal abuse nor physical violence towards Jews, another form of anti-Semitism, is not the answer. It only adds another unnecessary layer to the problem. There is a fundamental difference between criticizing Israel, a right any United States citizen has under the First Amendment and attacking someone because he or she identifies as Jew, Arab, or any other member of a Semitic people.

Shaykh Jibreel Speight

From the Director of Jewish Life:

Anti-Semitism is wrong. Period. Full stop. No questions about it.

Hate is wrong. Violence is wrong. Terrorism is wrong.

We as human beings should not be putting our holy sites, or our political agendas, above the humanity of our neighbors. This is at the root of the conflict going on in Israel right now, in which both Palestinians and Israelis are engaging in violent attacks on one another that originated in a dispute over a holy site.

In our Torah portion, Bamidbar, Moses takes a census of all the men in the Israelite camp. This is how the Israelites would prepare for a military campaign. But it later became a custom within the Jewish community not to count people. Some people thought this was because counting was a kenahora, a temptation of the evil eye. But Rabbi Yitz Greenberg has a different interpretation:

Why is there a negative attitude toward direct counting of people? There is actually a substantive theological issue involved. The human being is an image of God. This means that each individual is of infinite value, equal and unique. …We should be forever exploring this unlimited dignity and never reach its limit enough to then lump the person with others as if they were similar units.

We pray that all parties in this region can come together to recognize one another’s humanity, and the complexity of one another’s experiences, and work together to create a lasting peace. Then we might be able to embody the vision Yehuda Amichai put forth in his poem,Tourists:

Once I sat on the steps by a gate at David’s Tower,
I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists
was standing around their guide and I became their target marker.
“You see that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there’s an arch from the Roman period. Just right of his head.”
“But he’s moving, he’s moving!”
I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them,
“You see that arch from the Roman period? It’s not important: but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who’s bought fruit and vegetables for his family.”

It is difficult to provide a nechemta, a word of comfort, in response to this ongoing violence and bloodshed. So instead, I share this prayer by Rabbi Tamara Cohen:

Dear God, help us look,
look closer so that we may see
our children in their children,
their children in our own.
Help us look so that we may see
You in the bleary eyes of each orphan, each grieving childless mother
each masked and camouflaged fighter for his people’s dignity.
Dear God, Divine Exiled and Crying One,
Loosen our claim to our own uniqueness.
Soften this hold on our exclusive right – to pain, to compassion, to justice.
May your children, all of us unique and in Your image,
come to know the quiet truths of shared pain,
shared hope,
shared land,
shared humanity,
shared risk,
shared courage,
shared peace.
In Sh’Allah. Ken yehi Ratzon.
May it be Your will.
And may it be ours.

Rabbi Corie Yutkin