In this powerful podcast episode, Simma Lieberman interviews three faith leaders from the Faith Trio – Pastor Ben Daniel, Ali Sheikhaslani, and Rabbi David Cooper. Each of these leaders brings a unique perspective and experience to the conversation, making it even more impactful.
The Faith Trio is a group that aims to foster understanding and empathy among different faith communities. They recognize the increase in Islamophobia and antisemitism in today’s world and believe that now, more than ever, it is crucial to come together and combat these prejudices.
Throughout the episode, the faith leaders share their personal experiences and perspectives on the Israel-Gaza war and other conflicts. They emphasize the importance of compassion and empathy during these challenging times. Rabbi David Cooper highlights the need to know each other on a personal level, stating, “When you know the other, all of a sudden, you’re not dealing with some abstract collectivity, you’re actually dealing with real human beings.”
Rabbi David talks about his Palestinian and Israeli friends that he has had for years and is concerned for their safety.
Ali Sheikhaslani discusses the dehumanization that occurs during conflicts and the impact it has on both sides. He emphasizes the importance of recognizing the humanity of all individuals involved and treating them with dignity and respect. Ali also mentions the need for equal rights and understanding, stating, “Unless dignity is given to Palestinians… any foreign solution… will not bring peace.” Seeing so many Jewish people speak out in support of a ceasefire is inspiring to Ali and others.
Pastor Ben Daniel shares his experiences with right-wing Christians who believe in supporting Israel no matter what. He acknowledges the dangers of Christian Zionism and the underlying anti-Semitism that can be present in this ideology. He emphasizes the importance of making peace and letting go of revenge, stating, “You can’t fight your way to peace. You have to make peace.”
The speakers also discuss the need for individuals to genuinely feel and understand the pain of both sides involved in a conflict. They argue that it is not enough to simply pay lip service to the suffering of one side. Instead, individuals must truly feel and comprehend the pain to strategically act in a way that supports both sides. This understanding is seen as crucial in bridging the gap of identity and working towards a more inclusive society.
The faith leaders also provide solutions and action steps for listeners to promote empathy and understanding. They encourage education about different faiths and cultures, engaging in meaningful conversations with people from different backgrounds, and actively challenging stereotypes and prejudices.
Overall, this episode highlights the importance of compassion and empathy during times of conflict. It sheds light on the experiences and perspectives of these faith leaders and their commitment to promoting understanding and peace. It serves as a reminder that by knowing and empathizing with one another, we can work towards a more inclusive and compassionate world.
If you want to see a peaceful, lasting solution it’s essential to understand the pain of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Ben Daniel has served as pastor and head of staff at Montclair Presbyterian Church since March of 2014. Born in Palo Alto and raised in Mendocino, Ben earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Religious Studies at Westmont College with an emphasis in urban ministry. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1993. Before moving to Oakland, he he served as Pastor/Head of Staff at Foothill Presbyterian Church in San Jose for sixteen years. Prior to that, he spent four years as Pastor of the Community Presbyterian Church in Gonzales, CA.
David J. Cooper is a co-founder of Kehilla Community Synagogue and is rabbi emeritus there. He is a long-time progressive activist and community organizer. He has studied and taught on many aspects of Judaism and is also a liturgist.
Ali Sheikholeslami is one of the founders of the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC), Oakland, CA, and he is currently a member of its Board of Directors. He has been active in the Oakland Faith Trio for many years.
Simma Lieberman, The Inclusionist helps leaders create inclusive cultures. She is a consultant, speaker and facilitator. Simma is the creator and host of the podcast, “Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People.”
Contact Simma@SimmaLieberman.com to get more information, book her for your next DEIB event, help you become a more inclusive leader, or facilitate dialogues across differences.
Go to www.simmalieberman.com and www.raceconvo.com for more information
Simma is a member of and inspired by the global organization IAC (Inclusion Allies Coalition)
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