(LOS ANGELES, CA, 3/13/08) – Southern California Muslim and interfaith leaders met Wednesday with representatives from Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) office to express their concerns about Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and the resulting humanitarian crisis.
Those joining the meeting were: Sharaf Mowjood, Government Relations Coordinator of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles Area; Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council; Rabbi Allan Freehling, Executive Director of the L.A. City Human Relations Commission; Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Kol Tikvah; Rev. Peter Laarman, Executive Director of Progressive Christians Uniting; and Rev. Darrel Meyers, Friends of Sabeel.
Al-Marayati asked for the senator to take a leadership role in urging Israel to end its blockade of humanitarian relief for Gazans.
“Senator Boxer, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Subcommittee on Near Eastern Affairs, must break the silence on the humanitarian crisis and suffering in Gaza,” said Al-Marayati. “There is a growing interfaith peacemaking community that she should listen to as opposed to the war-making industry in Washington.”
Mowjood said Israel’s blockade had caused severe food shortages, worsened the healthcare system and nearly collapsed the water and sewage systems for the 1.5 million people of Gaza.
“Our Administration’s silence on Palestinians’ suffering and the lack of a call for a ceasefire indicate that our Administration places less value on the lives of Palestinians than Israelis,” Mowjood said.
Rev. Laarman urged Senator Boxer to take the initiative in furthering peacemaking efforts in the region.
“We, in the progressive religious community, were saddened and disappointed at the failure of so many political leaders, especially one as well-known for her peacemaking work as Barbara Boxer, for not having spoken out on the horrendous suffering of Palestinians in Gaza or on the threat to a resolution of the conflict posed by the new settlements in the West Bank,” Peter Laarman.
Rabbi Freehling said he stands with the Muslim American community in their grave concern over the profound suffering of too many Palestinians and Israelis. He reminded the senator of their long-standing relationship, and urged her to remain steadfast in pursuing peace in the region despite the pressure she must be facing from special interest groups.
The leaders expect to hear back from the senator’s office in a week’s time.
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