Standing in Solidarity This Ramadan

21 March 2024

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan started last week, and around the world, including in Israel, millions of Palestinian Muslims are facing a complex set of emotions. The month of Ramadan, which is associated with peace, brotherhood, and acceptance of the other, is a month characterized by strong communality, family, and the joy those things bring into our lives. But in recent years Ramadan in Israel–for both Israel’s Palestinian and Jewish citizens–has become synonymous with danger, threat, and potential conflict between Jews and Arabs in this beloved and battered land. 

Politicians and extremist elements are trying to take advantage of the sensitive holiday period to sow fear and chaos, to create conflict between Jews and Arabs, and to take shots at the sensitives at the heart of Israel’s Muslim public. So many of these politicians and their henchmen have, for years, worked hard to try and turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a political conflict–one that can and will eventually be solved through negotiation and diplomacy–into an eternal and intractable religious war that will force us all to live by the sword forever. Their goal is to set the entire region on fire. We must not let this happen. 

We must not let Ramadan become a time of danger and fear for Jews, Muslims, and all the inhabitants of this land. We must not accept the assumption that instead of holiday joy we are all destined for sorrow and pain. 

This month comes at a difficult and painful time this year, as 134 abductees are still in Hamas captivity, as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza go hungry instead of sitting down to a festive holiday meal at the end of each fast day. The New Israel Fund cannot and will not stand idly by in the face of the disproportionate harm to the innocent and the uninvolved, or close our ears to the poisonous discourse that has been spreading in Israel since the beginning of the war—this notion that “there are no innocents.” No. As the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza continues to unfold, we stand firmly in solidarity with our Muslim friends. And in Israel we continue to work together with them to try and make sure that they can observe this holy month with dignity. I pray that this month of Ramadan, which has always been associated with peace across the globe, will mark the beginning of a new chapter for both nations–one where we live next to each other, without rockets and without bombs, and develop shared prosperity and security.

In Israel, NIF will continue to protect the rights of Israel’s Arab minority–its right to maintain its identity, to raise its voice, and–especially–to feel at home. This is the great test of Israeli democracy. 

We are undoubtedly at a historical turning point in the annals of Israel, and we all–Jews and Arabs, Israelis, Americans, and Gazans–share in this fateful moment. I have every hope that this difficult period will pass, that the abductees will return home soon, that the war in Gaza will end, and that we will be able to move towards a horizon and a political order that will guarantee a life of dignity, security, and equality for all inhabitants of this land. 

Ramadan Kareem to all our Muslim partners, and with thanks and warm regards, 

Rachel Liel, NIF president