WashCo Dems op-ed article

OP-ED: Reflections on the Middle East

by Sudarshan Cadambi

At the junction of the Asian and African continents and on the routes of migration and trade with the European continent, the ancient civilizations that emerged in the Euphrates, Tigris and Nile valleys have a remarkably rich heritage of language, culture, place and relationship that span millennia.

The Semitic languages which include among others Akkadian, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic took birth in this cradle, with evolutionary linguistic trees such as Persian, Turkish, Syriac, Urdu, and many more.

Among today’s world religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam ascribe lineage all the way to Abraham.  The word Semitic is derived from Shem, a son of Noah.

I therefore wonder, what does anti-Semitic mean to all those who have this shared history of language and religious lineage? And why has it been difficult to find common ground that would be meaningful in so many ways.   To quote from Shakespeare, is the “quarrel upon the seventh cause”?

After 9/11, Muslim families who live in our midst understandably felt insecure.  Coming together, a cross section of faith leaders in our community convened an Interfaith Thanksgiving event, where I have participated for many years in the spirit of celebrating our common humanity.   Clearly now is another such time to come together, to welcome all voices and stand for peace in solidarity.

In particular, human rights are enshrined in the United Nations alongside a commitment to international law.   These are an essential bedrock of democratic principles and more so in times of conflict.  Even before the current escalation on the Israel-Gaza border, organizations on watch for human rights have flagged administrative detentions and extrajudicial imprisonments in the region over a span of decades.  We are also informed of the bare subsistence level of life under duress for a majority who live in Gaza and the West Bank. Solidarity requires us to speak up and show up for the weakest and most vulnerable.

For such a call for solidarity, I am humbled that churches in Jerusalem have decided not to celebrate this Christmas but to instead give a prayerful voice to “all our children who are suffering” … with inclusivity of all who may in various ways relate to Semitic roots of language, culture, place and relationship.


Should the purpose of a human life be subjugated to anything less?

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