We, the Islamic Center of Twin Ports, anti-Zionist Jewish community members, First Lutheran Church, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth, Peace United Church of Christ, United Presbyterian Church – Superior, Trinity Episcopal Church – Hermantown and Twin Ports Chapter of American Veterans for Peace, are all here to make a statement about the unfolding tragic situation in Gaza that unfortunately is no longer in the mainstream news in the US despite what the United Nations Secretary General described at various times, as a “crisis of humanity,” “a living hell,” “a bloodbath,” “a situation of utter deepening and unmatched horror.”  In Gaza, an entire population of 2 million people living in an area just slightly bigger than the size of Duluth and Superior combined are being besieged and attacked. OXFAM reports that the daily death rate in Gaza higher than any other major 21st Century conflict—250 Palestinians killed per day. Because of the high population density, CNN reports that any one of the 2,000 lb. bombs supplied by the US government, which has a blast radius of 1,200 ft or 56 soccer fields, falls in that population, it can potentially kill 2,300 people. In the early stages of the bombardment, satellite imagery showed more than 500 craters over 40 feet in diameter, consistent with craters left behind by 2,000 lb. bombs. Even if those 500 bombs were only 1% effective, 500 of them would still kill 11,500 people. With this scale of bombardment, the numbers reported by the Gaza Health Ministry as of Jan 30 of 26,637 people killed and 65,387 wounded, are probably underreported. And since nearly half of the Gaza population is under 18 years old, half of those nearly 27,000 killed are children.
We call everyone to find their humanity and demand a stop to this killing. This is not a Muslim, Christian or Jewish issue. This is a human issue. The people who are dying are not animals. They are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, children and grandchildren. There are numerous reports of whole families and lineages being decimated as bombs fall on their homes. We stand with justice and human decency. All the wrong committed in 1 day on Oct 7 as well as all the wrong committed in the 119 days since then, must stop and the perpetrators be brought to justice. At this time, the media is busy reporting about how trade is being disrupted by the Houthis in Yemen while children’s arms and legs are being amputated without anesthesia in Gaza because the hospitals have all been bombed and there is not enough medical supplies to treat the wounded. There are 35 healthcare organizations in Gaza with a handful of large hospitals. The Associated Press reported that 26 of those organizations are non-functional because of damage sustained. The World Health Organization reported 164 attacks on healthcare in Gaza. Doctors without borders reported last week on the bombing of the largest remaining hospital in Khan Younis, in the south of Gaza, which was supposed to be safe. The hospital’s surgical capacity is now almost nonexistent.
The Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF reported that the Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Quote: “We have said this is a war on children. But these truths do not seem to be getting through. Of the nearly 25,000 people reported to have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the escalation in hostilities, up to 70% are reported to be women and children," he said. "The killing of children must cease immediately." At the International Court of Justice on Jan 11 and 12th, the Irish Lawyer representing South Africa cited the UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian affairs saying: And I quote: “Gaza has become a place of death and despair, families are sleeping in the open as temperatures plummet. Areas where civilians were told to relocate for safety have come under relentless bombardment. Medical facilities are under relentless attack. The few hospitals that are partially functional are overwhelmed with trauma cases, critically short of medical supplies, and inundated by desperate people seeking safety. A public health disaster is unfolding, infectious diseases are spreading in overcrowded shelters as sewers spillover, some 180 women are giving birth daily amidst this chaos, people are facing the highest level of food insecurity ever recorded. Famine is around the corner. For children in particular, the last 12 weeks have been traumatic: no food, no water, no schools, nothing but the terrifying sounds of war, day in and day out. Gaza has simply become uninhabitable. Its people are facing daily threats to their very existence, while the world watches on.” End quote.
On December 12, 2023, 153 countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and protection of civilians. The US government voted against it. We stand with those 153 countries to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and immediate stop to hostilities and killing of civilians, women and children. We call for the global community to bring those who perpetrated war crimes to be brought to justice, regardless where they come from. We stand here before you as witnesses so we can stand before God in good conscience.
All the religious traditions abhor what is happening and call upon humankind to do something:
In the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ ۚ
Oh you who have believed, stand upright with justice, as witnesses for God, even if it is against yourselves or your parents or your family (4:135).
مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَٰلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَىٰ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا ۚ
For that reason, we have decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killed a human being with no valid justification, or is a corruption on the earth, it is as if he has killed all of humankind. And whosoever saves a life, it is as if he has saved the lives of all humankind (5:32)
In the Bible:
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." - Matthew 25:35-40
In the Torah (Old Testament):
"Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it." Psalms 34:15.
Yahweh Sabaoth says this. He said, "Apply the law fairly, and show faithful love and compassion towards one another. Do not oppress the widow and the orphan, the foreigner and the poor, and do not secretly plan evil against one another. Zechariah 7:9-10
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
This fundraiser is the least we can do. Join the Twin Ports interfaith community for the "Twin Ports Interfaith Fundraiser for Palestine" on February 18th, 2024, at the First Lutheran Church, 1100 E Superior St, Duluth. This event aims to support humanitarian efforts in Palestine and embodies our commitment to a world of peace where all people live free from oppression.
The evening, starting at 4:30 PM, features an educational gallery on the conflict from 5:00 to 6:00 PM and a dinner with Palestinian cuisine. The highlight is a presentation by Mariam El-Khatib, a Palestinian-American and community leader, beginning at 6:15 PM. El-Khatib brings a wealth of experience from her involvement with American Muslims for Palestine and LaunchGood.
Proceeds will aid the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Secure dinner tickets for $55 at https://bit.ly/interfaith-twin-ports; limited seats available. People are also welcome to only attend the presentation, which starts at 6 PM. Donations are encouraged at the event and online for those unable to attend.
Location: First Lutheran Church, Duluth, MN
Date: February 18, 2024
4:30 PM: Doors Open
5:00 - 6:00 PM: Gallery & Dinner
6:15 - 7:00 PM: Presentation & Q&A
 UN Relief Chief on humanitarian crisis in Gaza https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhknN2h-LS0
 Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (OXFAM) https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/daily-death-rate-gaza-higher-any-other-major-21st-century-conflict-oxfam
 CNN December 22, 2023 ‘Not seen since Vietnam’: Israel dropped hundreds of 2,000-pound bombs on Gaza, analysis shows” https://www.cnn.com/gaza-israel-big-bombs/index.html.
 Al-Jazeera https://www.aljazeera.com/tag/israel-war-on-gaza/
 Reuters “Battles rage as Palestinians say Gaza toll passes 25,000”, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/death-toll-israeli-strikes-gaza-passes-25000-gaza-health-officials-say-2024-01-21/
 NPR “Children make up nearly half of Gaza's population. Here's what it means for the war” https://www.npr.org/2023/10/19/1206479861/israel-gaza-hamas-children-population-war-palestinians
 UNICEF https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/statement-unicef-deputy-executive-director-ted-chaiban-upon-conclusion-his-visit
 Irish Lawyer Blinne Ni Ghralaigh KC at the International Court of Justice https://youtu.be/ZS6IYp0BErg
Interested in learning more about Islam or becoming an ICTP member?
Friday Jumaa at 1:15pm CST