| 4 March 2024, Monday |

Israelis on edge as fears grow of wider Lebanon conflict

In an act of interfaith solidarity, a gathering in Istanbul brought together a rabbi, an archbishop, and a mufti to condemn Israel’s actions in Gaza, advocating for the creation of a self-governing and autonomous Palestinian state.
Dressed in traditional Jewish attire along with the Palestinian keffiyeh, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss decried the Israeli state for the “mass slaughter” that it is still carrying out, saying it is aimed at dehumanizing Palestinians.

Rabbi Weiss, who had traveled from New York to Istanbul to attend the European Summit for Palestine organized by the European Muslim Forum, asserted that Israel’s atrocities in Gaza have nothing to do with Judaism or Islam.

“We have been living together as Jews and Muslims for literally hundreds of years, thousands of years,” he told Anadolu on the sidelines of the summit, referring to the humanitarian support received by Jewish people from Arab lands during times of persecution in Europe.

He said Israel is using the name of Judaism to declare war on the people of Palestine, to declare and vilify them as antisemitic as well as anti-Jews, describing them as “totally repugnant and false.”

He said they do not condone the deaths of 1,200 people in Israel since Oct. 7, yet he believes these deaths are the result of the Israeli “occupation,” which is the root cause of the problem.

“The tens of thousands of people that died, both Muslims and Jews, and we cry, and we are hurt with the death of so many people in Gaza.”

He questioned how the state of Israel could declare, demonize, and vilify the people of Palestine.

“We cannot be silent. We’re Jews. Because (we) are Jews, we have to stand up and say this is not true. It’s not in our name. We totally object to this. We cry and hurt with the people of Gaza and Palestine.

“Remove the impediment to peace, remove the occupation of this new movement called Zionism and their state. And we can live together as Jews and Muslims that we have had for years.

“The world is being fooled. This is not a religious state, it is not a Jewish state. They’re using the name Israel. They are masquerading in the star of David and the name of Israel.”

He said, “Today, Israel is recognized, but tomorrow it will be recognized as a totally criminal entity.”

Father Elias Awad, a Greek Orthodox pastor in Ramallah, spoke about the suffering of Palestinians, emphasizing the unity of Muslims and Christians in their defense of their homeland.

“Palestinians are being slaughtered from vein to vein, Muslims and Christians, alike, especially in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.”

He pointed out that “the people of Palestine are one, Christian and Muslims.”

He urged the international community to stop the “destructive war” and the killing of innocent children and women, as well as to defend the Palestinian people and their sanctities.

“We call on the whole world to stand with our cause to establish a free Palestinian state with Holy Jerusalem as its capital.”

Regarding Christmas celebrations this year, Father Awad said they have decided to cancel all celebrations and limit themselves to religious rituals only.

“There is a war against all the Palestinian people, with all their sanctities, individuals, history, cities and villages,” he said, adding that they are on the frontline defending the cause.

Representing Muslims, Nafigulla Ashirov, co-chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, told Anadolu: “Israel is the one who is committing heinous crimes and kills (killing) thousands and thousands of people.”

Addressing the situation from a Muslim perspective, the Russian mufti denounced Israel’s actions as grave crimes, attributing the conflict to Israel’s perceived superpower status.

“Today, the Palestinians, especially our brothers in Gaza, are now rising up against the occupation and against injustice.”

He highlighted the significance of holy sites in Jerusalem for Muslims worldwide.

Expressing concerns, he said Muslims do not have complete sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and that the Israelis can enter the holy mosque as they wish while subjecting other people to injustice, and kicking them out.

  • Anadolu Agency