Reflections from interfaith delegation to Palestine

With events unfolding rapidly, we share this first reflection from today’s events in Jerusalem.

Part I: There is No Justification

Today was indescribable. I woke up this morning with a sense of peace, despite the heaviness that had descended last night. Today was a Friday like no other. The doors of Al Aqsa were opened, but men under the age of 50 were not allowed in, and were forced to pray Friday prayer in the streets outside of the mosque's gates - including members of our delegation. This is just part of a global system that criminalizes young Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian men and paints them as inherently violent.

Part I: There is No Justification


Christian and Jewish members of our delegation joined a large demonstration outside of the Lion's gate in solidarity and as witnesses. In spite of the many checkpoints we had to go through, walking into the courtyard of Al Aqsa and seeing the Dome of the Rock sent chills through my body. 9 years later - and especially after the events of the last two weeks - being at the third holiest mosque and the first qibla was nothing less than awe-inspiring. 

Haram Al SharifThis evening they opened the doors for everyone of all ages, so *everyone* went to the mosque and it was a celebration even bigger than Eid. After Isha prayer, as people flooded out of the masjid they chanted takbeerat al Eid (God is greater, God is greater, there is no god but God) and I was overwhelmed with emotion.

All that being said, the people of Gaza and many in the West Bank are deliberately prevented from ever coming close to this sacred place, and yet, I can come from the other side of the world and celebrate with the people of Jerusalem, simply because I hold an American passport.

This is injustice. It is beyond ridiculous that a foreign, occupying army has any say in who can and can't enter a mosque. That visiting a mosque means potentially putting your very life in danger.

The fact that Israeli police firing just a few tear gas canisters at the crowds outside of the gate is considered a calm Friday - that everyone expected it to be much much worse - is WILD.

This is religious oppression, state violence, and systemic racism all rolled into one.

We have allowed this to happen for far too long. There is no justification.

Overview: This first collection of reflections from the Interfaith Network for Justice Delegation to Palestine/Israel is in four parts. Part I features Farah E's report from Jerusalem tonight.

Part II includes four reflections filed yesterday by Sophia Har, Annanda Barclay, Farah E and Elizabeth Welliver.

Part III focuses on the delegation's entry to Israel. Arab and Muslim delegates faced extensive questioning by Israeli border agents and Farah E reflects on questions she'd like to ask of her interrogators. Five members of the delegation were never allowed to join the other delegates and the last three reflections in this section focus on their experience. Elizabeth Welliver reacts to the denial of travel; a video by Jewish Voice for Peace details the delegates' reactions at the airport; and the last reflection includes links to coverage in several media outlets.

Part IV of this collection is dedicated to poetry and features prose by Elizabeth Welliver, as well as AJ Lilian Menashe's provocative adaptation of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl".

Read the full reflections.