The massacres in a Jerusalem Synagogue remind us of the necessity to find an end to the hatred and animosity which continues to brew between those seeking legitimate claims to homeland and security.

              It is in moments like this that anger can blind us in the pursuit of justice.  A condemnation of such barbarism is not enough.  Nothing justifies the slaughtering of the Rabbis and the devout in their moment of prayer. Any hesitancy to condemn such violence borders on approval and consent. Yet, condemnation is not enough.

              President Obama struck a nerve for peace and hope when he recognized that peoples on both sides of the conflict want peace for their families and children.  It is sometimes difficult to find a voice of reason in the midst of madness.  Vision in the midst of chaos is crucial if any hope is to prevail.

              While violence is never justified, especially outright murder, it is to be expected until people of good will not only demand justice but insure that grievances be redressed through uncommon courage and bold change of mind and heart.  Several challenges come to mind:

 (1) seeking security cannot be at the expense of seeking justice otherwise the pursuit of security becomes an act of aggression;

(2) we ought not be surprised by violence in the name of religion.  The Interfaith Communities must study this phenomenon with the ambition to recognize the conditions fostering religious violence which is never justified;

(3) Interfaith Dialogue must move beyond emphasizing commonality.  Serious differences must be engaged encouraging change of mind, heart, and beliefs in the pursuit of justice and fairness.  Interfaith leaders must be willing to purpose that all references to religious violence in the sacred writings or official teachings must be confronted if not expunged.  No religious teaching is greater than another person’s life.

               In particular, the conflict over the Temple Mount / Aqsa, sacred to both Jews and Muslims is more than dangerous.  As Moshee Halbertal of Hebrew University said, “When you bring the religious dimension, it absolutizes the conflict – you can divide the land, you can divide security, but the sacred is indivisible. … With the religion, there is black and white, either-or … .”  It is precisely this point the Interfaith Communities and leaders must engage as they are charged to purpose an alternative vision.  The Temple Mount / Aqsa, for example,   must become an Interfaith Center for prayer, reconciliation, and peace.  Here Abraham was called to spare his son, here Muhammad encountered the prophets of old.  Today this Holy Mountain of the Lord must be a place for the rebirth for the peoples of the region and the world.

              Interfaith leadership must encourage all peoples, especially the religiously motivated, to move and grow beyond their self-interest for the sake of the well-being of all peoples.  Belief at the expense of life is death.  It is time to choose life.  

The Interfaith Peace Project
The Board of Directors and
Thomas P. Bonacci
Executive Director