2 Vancouver faith leaders preach peace as violence grows in the Middle East

·2 min read
Dan Moskovitz, right, a senior rabbi at Temple Shalom Synagogue and Haroon Khan, a trustee with the Al-Jamia Masjid mosque, struck up a friendship after connecting through tragedy and trauma. (CBC News - image credit)
Dan Moskovitz, right, a senior rabbi at Temple Shalom Synagogue and Haroon Khan, a trustee with the Al-Jamia Masjid mosque, struck up a friendship after connecting through tragedy and trauma. (CBC News - image credit)

As violence continues to grip the Gaza strip, two Vancouver religious leaders are among those calling for peace and friendship between Palestinians and Israel in a letter published Tuesday in the Globe and Mail.

Despite growing international pressure for a ceasefire, unrest in the Middle East continues after at least 219 Palestinians and 12 people in Israel have been killed since violence erupted on May 10.

Dan Moskovitz, a senior rabbi at Temple Shalom Synagogue and Haroon Khan, a trustee with the Al-Jamia Masjid mosque, struck up an unlikely friendship after they connected through tragedy and trauma.

"The shooting in the mosque in Quebec and then the shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh were both opportunities that each of us took to reach out to the other and express, prayer and comfort and solidarity and support," Moskovitz told Stephen Quinn in an interview for CBC's The Early Edition.

Moskovitz refers to a shooting that took place in a Quebec city mosque in 2017, where six Muslim worshippers were killed and another shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 where 11 Jews were killed.

Moskovitz says since those tragedies, the two have found opportunities to work together and learn about each other's communities. The pair said that despite their differences they both share commonality through their devotion to each of their faiths.

"That trust that we've developed with each other, the recognition of the humanity in the other, the empathy that we have for the other, we thought that we had a unique perspective to share," Khan said.

A pro-Israel supporter chants at pro-Palestinians supporters during a demonstration against the current violence in Gaza in Toronto on Saturday, May 15, 2021.
A pro-Israel supporter chants at pro-Palestinians supporters during a demonstration against the current violence in Gaza in Toronto on Saturday, May 15, 2021.(Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Khan believes that during a time of such unrest between Palestinians and Israel, the world needed to hear how the two have been able to connect and form a friendship.

"If you look to Israel and the Palestinian territories today, there are examples of Jews and Arabs standing together on street corners with signs that say we will not be enemies to each other," Khan says.

Moskovitz went on to say that he believes the only way to solve the discord is by showing empathy for one another and learning how they can both coexist on the land peacefully.

"Both peoples make a valid claim to the land. They love it, they cherish it. It goes back generations and generations. And so, we have to learn to live together on it," said Moskovitz.

Khan says he agrees and wants to see a generation that will keep the peace between Palestinians and Israel and between all religions.

"At the end of the day, who are we as representatives of the communities? We're people that not only have to talk to one another, but we must promote peace. If we can't promote peace, what bloody good are we?" Khan said.