We’re relieved that the Israel–Hamas ceasefire seems to be holding.
But now’s the time for us to tune in, not turn away.
As we move beyond the ceasefire, we invite you to consider these 3 Lessons, and to take these 3 Actions.
We cannot bring back the lives lost or erase the deep traumas suffered.
But together, we are now primed like never before to meaningfully work towards a just and lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Now is the time for us to tune in, not turn away.
3 Key Lessons
1. Our voices matter
We mourn the loss of 248 Palestinians and 12 Israelis. Yet we also acknowledge your role in saving many more lives. Yes, many of you actually helped save lives.
In 2014, thousands of Palestinians and Israelis died. It took over 50 days to reach a ceasefire. In 2021, the ceasefire took just 10 days.
The winds are shifting. More people with more diverse voices began to speak up: This madness must stop. And stop it did, 40 days earlier than before.
For those of you who ever doubted that your voice matters, take note: If you spoke up, you literally helped save lives. Thank you!
For those of you who didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or didn’t know how to, it’s not too late. We still need you NOW.
Imagine just how different our world will look when more of us become better equipped to speak up for equality, security, dignity and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians. It’s possible—IF we do our part.
2. A ceasefire is a pause, not peace; but it presents an opportunity:
This latest escalation didn’t begin with the condemnable Hamas rockets. Nor with the disproportionate Israeli missile strikes.
Now that the rockets and missiles have paused, it’s not just time to prevent another round. It’s time to finally address the root problems of the conflict.
After all, Hamas and Israel are ready for another round. But beyond the rockets and airstrikes, we see the slow grind of the decades–long conflict press on.
Extremist Jewish settlers still conspire to forcibly remove hundreds of Palestinian families from their homes. Gaza’s infrastructure—laid destitute by a fifteen-year suffocating blockade—is on the brink of total collapse, and two million Gazans (mostly minors) battle a deadly coronavirus surge. Within Israel, mobs of Jewish and Arab citizens took to the streets, attacking each other in ways not seen for many decades—leaving Israelis wondering if this Israel–Hamas ceasefire might be a preamble to civil war.
None of this could take place without American entanglement and support. We send billions of dollars to Israel and the Palestinian Authority each year. And we shape the entire world’s diplomatic engagement with both Israelis and Palestinians.
The reason for that American support comes back to many of our own communities: Many of our fellow Americans care deeply about Israel or the Palestinians.
Peacemakers are now primed now to have outsized impact, to be heard like never before.
Most of them, however, advocate in ways that only promote the welfare of one side over the other; the maintenance of a two-tiered system in which Israelis know full rights and Palestinians, to varying degrees, only know partial rights. And much of this advocacy comes from Christian communities, relying on particular interpretations of teachings that in practice devalue the equal humanity of both Israelis and Palestinians.
But some of our friends, neighbors and leaders are speaking in new ways. And many more have new ears to hear. This means that peacemakers are primed NOW to have outsized impact, to be heard like never before.
No, we are not in a position to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians. But we are positioned to help our fellow Americans—friends, neighbors, pastors, and politicians—to see a more complete and true story.
So the ceasefire is not just a pause, it’s also an important opportunity.
3. We have transformational leaders to follow:
Failed leadership has led us to this place.
Just weeks ago, President Abbas indefinitely postponed the first Palestinian elections in 16 years—after more than a million Palestinians had registered to vote for their very first time. Prime Minister Netanyahu seemed to be facing the end of his 12-year reign, and possible jail time, until this escalation helped potentially save him. President Biden had made clear that he wanted to ignore this place, while continuing to pump billions of dollars into a broken framework that could only lead to more injustice and more violence.
We know all that. But as we saw the communal violence break out between Jewish and Arab Israelis, we saw tens of thousands of Jewish and Arab Israelis take to the streets with a counter message. As political leaders have failed to protect their communities, everyday people have taken up the mantle of peace. As our politicians wanted to turn their heads and let a mess—partly of their making—burn, we saw activists from around the world stand up and say: Not in my name.
We might lament the current state of leadership. But we can find incredible leaders in our midst if we pay attention, including a new, galvanizing youth movement across Israel/Palestine. These are the people we should be listening to, people and organizations like:
3 Transformational Actions
We know this is a tough year for everyone. We have different ways to give, from our time to our love to our prayers to our attention to our resources.
Reach out to your friends and let them know you care. Ask what they need. Do it again if you already did. Even if they don’t answer. Now that the media cycle has turned away, it’s especially important for them to know that you haven’t.
And if you can, give financially.
First and foremost, give to those in greatest need. Gaza is suffering a potential catastrophic collapse. Gaza needs urgent help. And East Jerusalem’s residents are still fighting to stay in their homes. These impending forced removals began the chain of events that lead to this escalation. They need help.
You can give through Telos’ Peacemakers Fund here, which goes to local partners in Israel/Palestine. Or give directly to folks you’ve come to know.
But please ALSO consider giving a donation to Telos.
We’re working the long game—forming communities of peacemakers to transform this conflict. And others.
While we must address urgent needs, we must also address root causes. Help us build the movement we need to knock conflict out at its source. To bring the robust and life-giving Principles & Practices of Peacemaking from the margins of our culture to the center.
This is how we end these endless wars. This is how we promote mutual flourishing. We only get there with your participation, and your sacrificial gift.
This escalation stopped 40 days early because there were more of you to speak up. Because we’ve been working together for more than a decade.
Help Telos now finally coalesce the movement for freedom, dignity and security for both Israelis and Palestinians so we can end this madness once and for all.
Again. our voice matters. Your voice had impact because so many of you had been sharing stories and organizing for years.
Culture is upstream from politics. What our neighbors and pastors and family members believe matters. We can never argue someone into changing their mind. But we can share stories—our stories—and they can help open hearts and minds.
Do not underestimate the power of your voice and your experience. You don’t need to have all the answers. Or any of them.
But now is the time to share. Share your stories about your time in the Holy Land. Share the resources we’re directing you and other peacemakers to. Share the content from the incredible change agents and leaders we directed you to above.
Beyond sharing your story, your voice is needed in two specific ways.
First, call or write your Member of Congress. Say that you support human rights for Israelis and Palestinians. That the U.S. needs to take a new approach. Don’t lose this moment to let them know that they have constituents—people like you—who want to see a transformed future for Israel/Palestine, and who recognize our opportunity to help build it.
Second—and even if your voice shakes—speak up when you hear antisemitic or anti-Palestinian hate speech, especially from people you know and love.
The spate of hate crimes in our communities is not accidental. And, sadly, antisemitism is on the rise globally. These hateful ideologies not only fuel violence, they are violence. They pull us further away from peace, not towards it. Peacemakers must find the courage to resist them, within our own communities, even within our own hearts.
Remember, as we amplify the voices of peacemakers, and unleash our own, the winds of change blow ever stronger.
I believe we’re on the cusp of something big. Today, people ARE listening. Today, we can honor the horrors and loss that so many of our friends and loved ones experienced by telling new stories about Israel/Palestine.
Today, we can declare that a different and better future is indeed possible.
A future in which both Israelis and Palestinians can finally know the freedom, dignity, and security they all deserve in equal measure.
Don’t stop now.