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Israel-Palestine war: US faith leaders urge immediate ceasefire in congressional 'pray-in'

Widespread backing for a ceasefire among the Democratic base is not represented among Democratic members of US Congress
Faith leaders and activists gather in Rep. Hakeem Jeffries' office for a 'pray-in' on Tuesday (Zaina Alsous)

A group of Muslim, Jewish and Christian faith leaders and activists gathered in House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries' office on Tuesday morning in Washington DC, conducting a prayer session and advocating for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, emphasising it as an ethical decision.

In a poignant gesture, activists held up mirrors inscribed with the words "The world is watching" on the reverse side, with the intention of prompting Congress to confront their potential involvement in Israeli war crimes.

"Every Democrat in Congress who is allowing Israel to carry out mass atrocities in Gaza should know that the world is watching. The only moral choice is ceasefire," Sandra Tamari, the executive director of the Adalah Justice Project, said.

"We will continue disrupting business as usual until Hakeem Jeffries and the Democratic party stops this genocide."

The event began with prayers mourning the thousands of Palestinians who were killed since 7 October. It included payers by Imam Suhaib Webb, Reverend Andre Greene and Rabbi Alissa Wise, along with others.

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At least 1,400 Israelis were killed during an unprecedented surprise attack on Israel on 7 October by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups. Israel says 222 were also taken back to Gaza as captives. Four of them have since been released. Israel responded with a bombing campaign that has taken thousands of Palestinian lives and counting.

At least 5,791 Palestinians have been killed, including 2,360 children and 1,292 women. At least 1,200, including 500 children, are missing and believed to be under rubble. 

pray in
Faith leaders and activists leave notes on Rep. Hakeem Jeffries' door with the names of those killed (Zaina Alsous)

Religious leaders and advocates underscored the tragic consequences of each explosion and every life lost. They did this by reciting close to 200 names of individuals who were killed due to "American-made weapons".

"Representative Jeffries and fellow progressives should reevaluate their commitment to justice if they continue to oppose a ceasefire in Palestine. Failure to support it undermines their dedication to racial, economic and environmental justice," Webb said.

"History may remember them as the establishment's enablers rather than genuine voices for truth, as allies of plutocracy instead of champions of democracy."

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Although there's widespread backing for a ceasefire among the Democratic base, only 18 Democratic representatives have voiced their support by endorsing Rep. Cori Bush's "Ceasefire NOW" resolution presented last week.

At the same time, US President Joe Biden's administration is urging Congress to approve a financial package, proposing $14bn in military aid that would support Israel's military.

"Democratic leadership has failed to stand on the side of what is right. Leadership should be ashamed of its complicity in supporting the genocide of the Palestinian people," Iman Abid, the director of organising and advocacy at the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said.

"Their choices are not only against what the majority of Americans are demanding - an immediate ceasefire - but also immoral. We cannot unconditionally fund Israel through this atrocity."

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