(RNS) While the violence escalates in Israel and Gaza, a movement is taking hold that unites Jews, Muslims and others in a campaign for peace.

In the face of escalating violence in Israel and Gaza, Jews, Muslims and others are planning a daylong fast on July 15, 2014, in support of peace in the region.

In the face of escalating violence in Israel and Gaza, Jews, Muslims and others are planning a daylong fast on July 15, 2014, in support of peace in the region. Photo courtesy Ivakoleva, via Shutterstock (Not for redistribution)

On Tuesday (July 15), a daylong fast is planned as part of a public effort to show unity in the fight against war and violence in the region.

Using the Twitter hashtag #HungryforPeace, the cause started in Israel and gained strength in England, promoted by Yachad, a U.K.-based pro-Israel, pro-peace group. Last weekend, it was announced in temples, mosques and churches in the U.S.

Pastor Steve Norman of Kensington Church near Detroit used Twitter to call his 10,000-strong congregation to join him in the fast after reading about the efforts of Muslims and Jews to publicly stand together.

“It just seemed right to follow their lead,” said Norman, whose church sponsors several trips to Israel and the West Bank each year.

July 15 is a Jewish fast day (17th of Tammuz) and the beginning of a three-week mourning period for the destruction of the two Jerusalem Temples. It occurs this year during the Muslim observation of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast for a month during daylight hours.

The religious observances coincide with a public cry from many in Israel who have had enough.

“Sanity must prevail. Inertia cannot take over,” wrote Robi Damelin, in a July 10 editorial in The Huffington Post. Damelin, who lost her son, David, to the conflict in 2002, concluded, “We must come out and demonstrate to the powers that be. Stop the violence.”

As part of the Parents Circle-Family Forum, Damelin meets with Palestinian and Israeli families who have all lost children in the conflict.

The latest series of clashes between Israel and the Palestinians are blamed on the kidnapping of three Israeli young men who were later found dead, as well as the reported revenge killing of a teenage Palestinian boy from East Jerusalem. In the words of Lee Ziv, an Israeli peace activist, “The tears of an Israeli mother over her dead son are identical to those of a Palestinian Mother.”

Ziv started a Facebook page called “The Bus of Peace” and is organizing a bus to drive from Jerusalem to Gaza with flowers and peace slogans to demonstrate the goodwill of many Israelis toward the people of Gaza. In the past, she has gathered blankets and other supplies to donate to those living in Gaza.

“We know there is massive grass-roots desire to end the fighting and live in peace,” said Scott Cooper, an American Jew and co-owner of MEJDI Tours, a company that includes both Palestinian and Israeli “narratives” in Holy Land pilgrimages. “Tomorrow is just one way to bring attention to a movement that is rarely in the headlines.”

The fast begins at sunrise Tuesday and concludes at sundown.

YS/AMB END BOURKE

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Dale Hanson Bourke

Dale Hanson Bourke

Dale Hanson Bourke is the author of 11 books, including "The Skeptic’s Guide" series with IVPress on topics such as HIV/AIDS, global poverty, immigration and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Formerly publisher of RNS and SVP at World Relief, she has also served as editor and publisher of several magazines.

10 Comments

  1. The history of the whole israeli-native palestineians problem has been a humanitarian crisis for generations. The solutions seem out of reach because one side, or the other depending on who you believe, will not allow a permanent solution to be found. Such a tragedy.

  2. “The tears of an Israeli mother over her dead son are identical to those of a Palestinian Mother.”

    In some cases, yes, but let’s stop the moral equivalency. I have seen too many Palestinian mothers expressing joy at the prospect of her son becoming a suicide/homicide martyr. Peace is a wonderful idea, but let’s keep it real.

    • Ha. As if the death or dislocation of a pali is not celebrated by at least one jew in israel or america.

      Moral equivalency is a good tool to “walk in the otherd shoes”. A tool to share a common humanity. So if by singling out palis as the only group among the two that celebrate their enemies death, you seek to paint a picture for readers….I think that picture innacurate.

      And there are at least 3 reasons held in israeli custody right now that confessed to positive emotions when they torched the body of the pali boy….therby making it a trait shared by both sides.

      • When the Palestinians get leaders for themselves who are not power hungry foreign supported thugs, maybe someone might take them seriously.

        I always find it funny when people from democracies willingly support a theocratic taliban-like government just because they attack Israel.

        • I find it sick that you defend israel simply because they are israel.

          And telling. You post the most liberal of logic, yet are pro-israel. Most liberals who were not part of the tribe do not support american colonialism in its military and financial support of israel.

          I know what you are now.

          • You know me now. Someone who knows the history of the region and is current on the events there.

            About support of Israel.., Lets see, they are the one of the only democracies in the region. The US pretty much birthed the country into creation in the late 40′s, so we have close historical/political ties. Plus when possible they are willing to seek peace with neighbors such as Jordan and Egypt (who incidentally hate the Palestinians much more than any given Israeli does).

            What’s not to like?

            What is even funnier is throwing around the colonialism/apartheid screeds when referring to Israel. People do this in favor of a theocratic government and a kleptocratic government. Its like decrying the British Empire in support of Stalin and Mobutu.

            Lles, how many Israel settlements are there in Gaza?
            Zero.

            Why doesn’t Egypt allow the free flow of goods and people from their end of the Gaza strip?

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