We at the Harlem FamiIy Institute and Harlem Family Services, New York, NY, urge compassion for all souls affected by the continuing conflict between Israel and Hamas and wish to press for humanitarian responses. While we condemn the recent and continuing violence and acknowledge the long-standing suffering of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, we believe that identification with the aggressor solves nothing and that only nonviolence engenders the transformations that can allow all to come together.
Following the example of African Americans who met the terrorism of white supremacy with nonviolence, as modeled by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we implore both sides to break this cycle of violence. Lay down your armaments and open your hearts to each other’s anguish. See the basic humanity in those you call foe. Turn hatred into empathy, isolation into kinship, brutality into mercy.
Through compassion that lifts up the downtrodden, we can transform suffering into a higher purpose. Our shared burdens can blossom into enlightenment if we raise each other from pits of vengeance to peaks of unity. When we connect as fellow human beings through shared struggles, labels of race, nationality, or creed fade into the background.
The path of nonviolence and compassion is challenging. We harbor pain and anger that tempts us to answer violence with violence. But we must resist the cycle of retribution, which only leads to more innocent bloodshed. With empathy for the suffering on both sides, we appeal to the humanity that lies in all people beneath the labels that divide us. We believe peace is possible if we open our hearts, though the road may be long.
Reconciliation demands humility and sacrifice. We must be willing to understand those we call enemies. We must be willing to forgive, even amidst grievous injustice. We must be willing to seek nonviolent solutions, though they require work and compromise. The rewards are healing, hope, and dignity for all people. We urge perseverance of spirit despite setbacks. With shared courage and compassion, we can mend what is broken. For in the profound words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”