The Northern California Islamic Council, a body representing 95 religious and civic institutions in the greater Bay Area, writes to express outrage at the unprovoked Israeli military desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque (the third holiest site for 1.8 billion Muslims), and violent assault of peaceful worshippers during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Furthermore, NCIC denounces the attempts to ethnically cleanse the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and other parts of East Jerusalem while allowing armed Zionist-Jewish settlers to takeover and evict Palestinians from their indigenous homes and land. Indeed, hundreds of residents in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah are on the verge of expulsion from their homes, and armed settlers, and Israeli soldiers are terrorizing the community and those in solidarity with them.
The violent assault on Al-Aqsa Mosque occurred in the last ten days of Ramadan, when Muslims spend the time in the mosque to increase their spirituality by reading and reflecting on the Qur’an. Images of Israeli troops marching into the Sacred Mosque using tear gas, stun grenade, sound bombs and rubber bullets were shocking to every Muslim, and anyone with conscience across the globe. This assault was followed by destruction of residential buildings through air strikes by Israeli forces, killing many women and children, and injuring dozens of innocent citizens. Eid Al-Fitr will not be a celebration for the Muslim community this year, we conclude the Month of Ramadan in mourning and heavy hearts due to Palestinian enduring relentless violence at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces in the sacred site of Al-Aqsa.
NCIC urges all faith communities and civic organizations to stand in solidarity with Palestinian worshippers who are being violently attacked in Al-Aqsa Mosque and threatened with expulsion from their homes in Jerusalem by Israeli forces. To promote faith and civil society alliances, leaders must stand together in condemning these horrific human rights abuses in an internationally recognized holy city and sacred mosque.
NCIC calls on the US Government and the Department of State, as Contracting Parties, to bring into force articles of the 4th Geneva Convention and extend protection to the Occupied Territories. Israel, as an Aparthied State should be held accountable and the International Criminal Court should proceed with investigating War Crimes committed against unarmed indigenous Palestinian people. Israel annually receives $3.8 billion in foreign aid from American taxpayer dollars and is one of the top foreign recipients of American aid. This places the US Government and American organizations in a position of leverage and responsibility to vocally oppose Israel’s human rights abuses and enforce international law. As faith-based communities, it is our collective duty to promote justice against violent discrimination of any religious community. For far too long, criticism of Israel has been met with false accusations of anti-Semitism. However, we believe it is an affront to the principles of Judaism and the Ten Holy Commandments to conflate settler colonial ideologies of Zionism with Judaism.
We call on all mosques to dedicate the Friday Khutbah (sermons) to highlight the current conditions in Palestine and the Israeli military killing 69 Palestinians and wounding over 500 in the past 72 hours. In addition, we call on all community members and allies to join the May 15th march and rally in San Francisco to commemorate the 1948 Nakba while insisting on the Right of Return.
Here are the talking points for Friday Khutbah: