More than 100 people in both Cardiff and Birmingham this week heard two peace activists – one Israeli and one Palestinian – speak about their hopes for reconciliation.
Palestinian Yasser Khaldi, and Israeli Meron Guttel were speaking at ‘Invest in Peace’, a joint initiative between the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, with the endorsement of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, which invites Christians and Jews to support Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding.
Yasser called on people to put efforts in to ending the conflict rather than fuelling it. “The Holy Land is valuable to Christians, Jews and Muslims. This should motivate people of faith to help end the conflict, not perpetuate it. But wishful thinking isn’t enough, we need pragmatic and creative solutions.”
Meron said: “Getting this support from different faith groups in Britain is empowering. It reassures me that we are not alone in our struggle for peace, and that our core values of equality, justice and peace are shared among all communities.”
They spoke at Cardiff Reform Synagogue at an event held in partnership with St David’s Uniting Church, Pontypridd, and Singer’s Hill Synagogue, in partnership with Birmingham Churches Together.
Following the event Board of Deputies Vice President Edwin Shuker said: “In the shadow of the terrible attack in Pittsburgh, getting together with Christians and other faith groups in a spirit of unity and honesty to debate challenging topics is interfaith at its best .
An attack on a faith group peacefully praying is an attack on faith itself .
“Investing in peace” is the most apt response .
The Revd Peter Colwell, Deputy General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, said: “With so much violence, hatred and suspicion in the world, there is a critical need for different faith groups to come together. Our message to extremists on all sides is simple: You will not divide us. This project delivers that message loud and clear.”
Among guests at the Birmingham event were Archbishop Angaelos, the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, the Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley and Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman. Board of Deputies Senior Vice President Sheila Gewolb attended the Cardiff event.
Thangam Debbonaire MP will be attending tonight’s event in Bristol. More events are planned in Oxford, Woodford, Bushey and St Albans over the next two weeks.
Photo: Meron Guttel (left) and Yasser Khaldi at the Invest in Peace event in Cardiff
Photographer: Philip Stewart