Judaism believes we are all created in the image of God and that every life has value.
Every person has value as an individual and as part of a collective. Israelis and Palestinians are peoples with their own experiences and histories. Their lives are full and worthy of respect and consideration. The Palestinians are a people with whom Jews and Israelis must be in dialogue.
In times like these it can feel like a radical statement – to proudly proclaim that all human lives hold value. But especially in these darkest of days, we are called upon to fight the urge to distinguish between us and them, and to grapple with the truth of our common humanity.
This statement of humanity is foundational to the work we do and to the work of our friends and partners on the ground. It is the basis upon which we must build, and is inextricably tied to our Judaism. Part of valuing life involves giving grief space to breathe, and The Parents Circle Families Forum, a group of Israeli and Palestinian parents who have lost children in the violence, provides an example of how to hold on to humanity in the face of unimaginable loss. Their members have been making appearances in media across the world, from Germany to the US, Ireland to the UK, showing us how to hold value in all life even in the face of division and fear.
Noam Shuster writes about having space to ‘mourn two peoples’, as does the Palestinian feminist activist Samah Salaime, who both grieve for and worry about friends and family whose lives exist across borders and social boundaries.
After the attack on 7 October, stories quickly emerged of Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel protecting one another from Hamas’ terrorism. Have You Seen the Horizon Lately have shared numerous stories of bravery, and communities working together.
Humanisation across borders is more important now than ever, and especially so in Gaza, where narratives often overlook the humanity of those killed. This eulogy to Khalil Abu Yahia (of blessed memory) a writer based in Gaza, captures this powerfully. Khalil worked with Israeli organisations like Achvat Amim, a programme enabling partnerships between Palestinians and Israelis, and his loss has been felt across the peace movement.
We have curated resources and links to organisations that help explore further the values within our statement, mainly through the work of organisations in Israel. Our Jewish Values do not necessarily agree with or endorse every word and every position in each resource or from each linked organisation.