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Ceasefire: Council of Religious Leaders – Thursday December 7, 2023  

Council of Religious Leaders – Thursday December 7, 2023  

The Council of Religious Leaders also is an organization of prominent interfaith leaders. It was organized during the De Blasio administration. It is chaired by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. We meet periodically in the Cardinal’s residence.  

The second conversation was even more deeply felt due to face-to-face exchanges. There were five persons in the delegation, three were speakers and residents of Kibbutz Kfar Aza and survivors of the October 7th attack. There were very youthful, in fact I was struck by their childish countenances and decorum. Later, I inquired of their ages, two were fifteen years old. They were at the festival also when the attack occurred. They ran for help and in fact was able to make connection with the Israeli soldiers. One of the young girls said pridefully, that she was able to direct the soldiers to the places where people were hiding.  

The elderly woman also described the building that she was in. The description was almost identical to what I’ve already described. Her son was killed in the attack. In the village there was no light, heat, no food. They mentioned that they lived in fear that any moment the Hamas soldiers would be trying to gain entrance into their villages or discover where they were hiding. In the village mentioned above we were told; 52 people had been murdered, 13 missing, 7 kidnapped and 685 evacuated.  

Listening to these survivors, my feeble attempt to relay their stories in no wise conveys the depth of pain, loss, destruction that was expressed. As in the case with the prior survivors the reaction was even more deeply felt, I think because of the presence of the survivors and the interaction after their presentations. There were hugs and even tears among the clergy and the survivors.  

I wanted to ask why there have been such resistance emanating from the Palestinians. Why were there periodic uprisings in which death and destruction followed. But I thought better of it. This is not the time to raise those questions. The answers might contribute or enhance the pain of the moment. Surely the Palestinians, Hamas or whoever represents them at any point in history, surely must have reasons to do what they do – reasons that make sense to them.  

As I listened identifying with the pain, I thought of the pain of the Palestinians who were now being attacked by the Israeli and I thought of the massive death and destruction of our communities, people of African Ancestry in the U.S.A. We have especially during and after the Civil war. Whole communities were destroyed. The people were killed or wounded and left homeless; Elaine, AK, Atlanta, GA, to name a couple communities that were destroyed. In 1919 it was called Red Summer because of the proliferation of our communities because of the attacks which brought death and destruction. Two of the most famous massacres occurred, Tulsa, OK, Rosewood, FL. This happened even with the killers and destroyers knew what had already happened to the communities mentioned above.  

In my book Reflections during the Pandemic 2020-2021 I describe these communities that were attacked and destroyed. 

So, I readily could identify with the feelings of these survivors as well as the Palestinians. Their stories and the images of the Palestinian suffering that we see daily on the television. In my mind it conjures up images of our people who had experienced a very similar ordeal. There may be and might have been different reasons why Israelis and Palestinians and even people of African Ancestry were attacked. 

In our case, I keep asking what was and is the reason and is the reason for the way people of African A have been treated in the USA.  

We have built the country, worked at every capacity to prosper the country, we have fought in every war the country ever had and had been told that without our presence America would’ve lost the war. Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said as much. We have only asked to be treated justly and equally and live in peace.  

As I pray and reflect on the history of death and destruction caused by wars. I come away with the determination to even do more to demand our five-points:  

  •  Ceasefire 

  •  Release all hostages 

  •  Make available humanitarian aid indefinitely 

  •  Negotiations 

  •  A permanent solution 


The survivors that we met are no different than the Palestinians under attack. They are all suffering horribly and it need not to be so. If only they could find their way to a Two-State Solution. The two people working together could build paradise on earth. But the hatred and hostility are so deep. According to the Israeli leaders, President Netanyahu they will not stop the death or destruction until they have destroyed Hamas. What makes Netanyahu or anyone think that should they destroy Hamas that would end the hostilities? Another Hamas, PLO, or so-called terrorist group is being raised while the war goes on.  

In the early days of the war, there was the picture on television of a young lady that had been captured by Hamas. She was put in the back of what appeared to be a pickup truck. She was half-nude and was being held down by Hamas supporters. As a truck moved ever so slowly through the streets it was encircled by youngsters appearing to be in their teens. They were screaming, I assume curses at the young lady, their faces were distorted with hatred. They hurled rocks at her and spat upon her. Watching this horrific scene, I couldn’t help but ask, how does a group of young people come to hate another young human being? They not only acted as though they wanted to kill her, but to torture and humiliate her. Why? What had been done to them that caused this kind of demonic behavior? And I thought these are the future Hamas, PLO, etc. And so, it’s nonsense, it’s illogical to think that to destroy one group will end the problem. Not only is the next Hamas seeing among these youths gathered around this female, but all through the streets of Gaza where homeless children roaming, parents dead or missing; hungry, thirsty, nowhere to go. These young people have been told and seeing their own experiences, how their land was taken from them and their parents were brutally killed and driven from their homeland. 

We, the people of the world must continue to demand our five simple points and until that day comes, if it comes at all we can only anticipate more inhuman acts of war. And who will suffer the most, the innocent people; children, elderly, etc.  


Stay tuned for next week


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