Christians, Muslims and Jews must stand together for Gaza!

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The following speech was given by Father Dave at the Al Quds Day rally in the Sydney CBD – July 26th, 2014

In the name of God, merciful and compassionate (bismi-llahi r-ra.mani r-ra.im), and with respect to the traditional custodians of this land (the Gadigal people), let me thank you (my Muslim sisters and brothers) for the privilege of standing with you today in solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine.

The tears of Jesus mingle with the blood of the innocent of Gaza. The brutality of this latest assault seems to surpass even the violence of the Israeli government’s previous attacks on this beleaguered civilian population. Whole families are killed, children die in their beds, mosques and schools and hospitals are targeted for destruction. Jesus weeps. How can we but weep with him?

When I was asked to speak at this gathering, more than a month ago, our primary concern was with the Australian government’s refusal to acknowledge the Israeli Occupation. Since that time the gates of hell have opened up again in Gaza, and now the terrible refusal of the Australian government to acknowledge the Palestinian Occupation has been eclipsed by their even more appalling silence in the face of the horrendous holocaust of human suffering our sisters and brothers in Gaza are enduring.

Jesus weeps for the people of Gaza and we weep with him, and yet we must do more than weep. We must move our government to act in support of our suffering brothers and sisters! How we accomplish that, I am not sure, but what I am sure about is that if we are going to be effective we must work on this together!

Sisters and brothers, in this great tragedy I also see a great opportunity – an opportunity that people of faith everywhere (and most especially Christians, Muslims and Jews) might be drawn together from across the globe to stand together in solidarity with the Palestinian people! Jesus weeps and there is no way that any person of faith can be blind to the injustice that is being visited upon Gaza. We weep, and as we weep my hope and prayer is that God will draw us together in love!

A Muslim brother of mine once said to me “do you know that before I was a Muslim I was a Christian”. I was surprised until he added “and before I was a Christian I was a Jew!” I don’t know if all of you all of my Muslim sisters and brothers here share this perspective – that before you were Muslims you were Christians – but if you do then we must also acknowledge that before we were Christians we were Jews!

We have all sprouted from the same seed, and that seed was planted in Palestine! Since that original seed was planted we have branched out in very distinct ways and we have grown apart and indeed there has indeed been a tragic history of violence between us, the vast bulk of which has been the responsibility of the Christian branch of that tree! Even so, would it not be wonderful if our love for our common birthplace and our love for the people of that land where our seed was first sown – would it not be wonderful if that love for Palestine could draw us back together?

We are of different faiths (and I do not intend to minimise any of those differences). Even so, while we are different in many ways, our love for Palestine is one! We may be divided by culture and race and creed, but we are united in our love for Palestine, we are united in our thirst for justice, and we are united in our commitment to ending the Occupation and the oppression of the Palestinian people!

Brothers and sisters, let us stand together for Palestine. The forces of injustice and oppression are strong. The propaganda ministry of the State of Israel functions like a well-oiled machine. Their narrative is well rehearsed, they are well financed and powerful and they speak with one voice! If we are going to stand against them we too must be united.

This is my prayer and my hope – that, enshallah, this tragedy might draw us together in solidarity with the people of Palestine, for if we stand together – Muslims, Christians and Jews – against the Palestinian Occupation and against the genocide being enacted in Gaza, I believe we will see change. Justice will come, and our tears of sorrow will be replaced by tears of joy as we celebrate a free, free Palestine. Enshallah!

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