This toolkit is designed as a resource to help ensure your interfaith events and projects are not contributing to the problem of faithwashing as it applies to organizing around Palestine/Israel.
Role of Faith Communities in Palestine Organizing
Faith groups have long played a major role in working for freedom and justice. For example, in South Africa, where there was a theological justification of apartheid, many religious institutions fought back based on their values to urge followers to join the anti-apartheid movement.
Today we see faith communities doing work within their spheres to support Palestinian rights, including divesting from companies that are complicit in Israel’s war crimes and joining together to ask for freedom to worship in Jerusalem.
An important part of ensuring your interfaith work is not in opposition organizing for Palestinian rights is to come up with principles that are meant to help guide you planning your events and projects.
Consider these questions when coming up with guidelines for your local community:
Logistics: Where? When? Who? Funding?
You want to make sure the space and timing for your events are accessible to a wide range of people. Are there different communities represented within each faith community? Are groups with more resources expected to give more?
How to deal with conflict? How to deal with feelings but not at the expense of truth telling?
Providing a safe space is important to ensure that when there are issues such as racism, Islamophobia, or other problematic behavior coming out in an interfaith setting that they are addressed and participants commit to combatting these behaviors in other settings as well.
How to center Palestinian experiences? How to avoid tokenization? How to ensure these initiatives are supporting Palestinian rights?
When interfaith groups want to take on what is happening in the Holy Land, there must be a commitment to the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. This includes who is being invited to speak and to be in the room; how the “conflict” is being discussed; and building relationships with groups committed to Palestinian rights vs those working against them.
Ideas for Interfaith Events and Projects
- Hold a discussion around Palestinian liberation theology and that tradition within various faith communities.
- Mobilize to stop faithwashing efforts in your community like these Depaul University students protesting the Midwest Consulate of Israel sponsoring an exhibit on their campus entitled “Building Bridges of Faith: Photographs of Papal Visits to the Holy Land, 1964-2012” or when activists successfully organized to cancel an event featuring the Consul General of Israel in Chicago speaking about religion and peace.
- Launch a local interfaith boycott or divestment campaign such as this project that was launched in 2013 targeting SodaStream.
- Looking to travel to Palestine/Israel? Join Interfaith Peace-Builders for one of their many delegations throughout the year.
Groups to Reach Out To
- American Friends Service Committee
- American Muslims for Palestine
- Christian Peacemaker Teams
- Friends of Sabeel-North America
- Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights- Austin
- Interfaith Peace-Builders
- Israel/Palestine Mission Network
- Jewish Voice for Peace
- Kairos USA
- Mennonite Palestine Israel Network
- Muslims for Social Justice
- United Methodist Kairos Response
- US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
- It’s Time to Stop Discussing BDS and Get to Work
- Religious Studies Scholars Statement of Solidarity with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement
- The Asymmetry of Interfaith Dialogue
- There’s Nothing “Normal” About It: Dialogue, Normalization, and Palestine On Campus
- BDS Movement Website