Guest Commentary

Tucson's Jews and Muslims again unite in a demonstration of peace, reconciliation

A group of Jews and Muslims in Tucson is determined to set a tradition of peace and reconciliation, challenging the current escalation of violence. And the group is inviting all concerned individuals and communities to participate in the third Muslim-Jewish PeaceWalk and Gathering on Sunday, March 5.

In keeping with a spirit of partnership, it is called Jewish-Muslim and Muslim-Jewish PeaceWalk in alternate years. Its mission statement is as follows:

"We believe that peace among people of all faiths is possible, and we affirm a process of reconciliation to achieve this goal.

"We gather and walk in peace from the Mosque to the Synagogue. We lament the loss of innocent life, especially children, as a result of political or economic violence or in the name of religion. We pray for the safety and freedom of all people who suffer the horrors of war.

"Rather than despair, we choose to embrace hope and to promote a process of listening with compassion. As people with faith, we place our trust not in military might but in acts of loving kindness to pursue justice as a true pathway to peace.

"Our coming together as a community here in Tucson is witness to our belief that peace is possible. We call for alternatives to military or violent solutions to the problems in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. Our walk is a prayer for the hopes of the people of Israel and Palestine for peace, security, independence and freedom."

We hope to provide solutions to problems that plague humankind. For example, consider the Danish cartoons published with a deliberate attempt to put down Islam and Muslims--caricatured in insulting ways to the Prophet Muhammad. We will respond to a situation like this by coming together amicably--in mutual respect of faiths and traditions of each other, and finding just and fair solutions through dialogue and communication.

PeaceWalk was initiated by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and Abdul Rauf Campos Marquetti, co-founders of the Muslim-Jewish Peace for Interfaith Solidarity, in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2004. The PeaceWalk was brought here the same year by concerned Tucsonans. PeaceWalks are now held at a number of locations around the United States.

This year, it is distinguished from previous years in that it is a short walk, three miles instead of six. It culminates in a gathering for a variety of games and activities, for children as well as adults, in order to connect with each other in friendly interactions.

The PeaceWalk on Sunday, March 5, will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Islamic Center of Tucson, 901 E. First St., have a number of stops en route, and arrive at 3:30 p.m. at the Temple Emanu-El, 225 N. Country Club Road. The games and group activities at the Temple will continue until 5:30 p.m. Prayers will be held at 5:45 p.m. Supper will be served at 6:30 p.m., followed by a concert. All concerned Tucsonans are invited to come and participate in this peace walk and gathering, and make it a resounding success.

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