A delegation of Jewish and Muslim religious leaders convened today outside of the Pediatric Critical Care Unit at Sheba Medical Center to pray for the wellbeing of Saad Dawabsha, the four year old child who was seriously burned in a terror attack in the Palestinian village of Duma on Friday morning. Saad’s younger sibling Ali was killed in the attack which also critically injured the boys’ parents, also being treated at the Tel Hashomer hospital.
The gathering of religious leaders was an initiative of former Israeli government minister Rabbi Michael Melchior together with Rabbi Rafi Feurstein and Rabbi David Stav of the TZOHAR Rabbinical Organization. The group was joined by senior members of the Islamic Movement including Sheikh Abdullah Nimar Darwish as well as Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem.
Culminating in the recitation of Psalms by the rabbinical delegation, the meeting began with a candid conversation on the need for strong condemnation from both sides of terror incidents and a need for enhanced co-religious dialogue beyond times of crisis.
Rabbi Rafi Feurstein, co-founder of TZOHAR, described the initiative as a means to “jointly condemn an evil act of murder of an innocent child.” Rabbi Stern reiterated that it must be understood that such acts, “will never be allowed to represent any legitimate expression of religion.”
Sheikh Darwish said that this act should be used as a catalyst to create a covenant of all religious leaders against terror and in the name of peace.
Rabbi David Stav, Founder and Chairman of Tzohar said that while there are certainly areas of conflict between the Muslim and Jewish faiths, “even when we disagree, we must find a way to do so with respect and we must always avoid a situation where blood is spilled in a way that would harm the sanctity of the land.” Rabbi Stav responded to criticism that some elements of Jewish youth were resorting to violence admitting that “we must act with ultimate responsibility to reach our younger generation and teach them that even when we might not agree with another’s opinion that never gives us the ability to physically attack or God forbid kill.”
The meeting was also joined by MK Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya who commended the initiative but said that it is not enough to speak but there must be greater action on the part of religious leaders to condemn acts of terror on all sides.
Prior to departing the hospital, the clerics met with the grandfather of the burn victim and reiterated that their visit was supported by large number of other religious figures. “We represent many rabbis and none of us are willing to stand silent in the face of such a desperate act of evil, ” said Rabbi Stern.