A view of Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem. Photo via Sir kiss/Wikimedia Commons/RNS.

At least four worshipers, three of them U.S.-born, were killed in an attack on a west Jerusalem synagogue Nov. 18 by two Palestinians wielding a gun, an ax, and a meat cleaver, police said.

The incident was the latest violent event in the tense city where relations between Arabs and Jews have been deteriorating for months over a contested shrine holy to both Jews and Muslims.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said eight people were wounded in the assault, including police officers. Samri said the attackers were Palestinians from east Jerusalem.

One of the victims was Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, a native of Massachusetts, according to Haaretz. Aryeh Kupinsky and Kalman Zeev Levine, 43 and 55, respectively, were also U.S.-born. Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68, was born in England.

The attack took place in the Jewish neighborhood of Har Nof in the western part of the city. The attackers were shot and killed by police following a shootout. Police were searching the area for other suspects.

The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the BBC.

Yosef Posternak, who was at the synagogue at the time of the attack, told Israel Radio that about 25 worshipers were inside when the attackers entered.

“I saw people lying on the floor, blood everywhere. People were trying to fight with (the attackers) but they didn’t have much of a chance,” he said.

Jeff Wright 07-29-2014
gkuna / Shutterstock.com

View from the Mount of Olives on the Dome of the Rock through barbed wire, gkuna / Shutterstock.com

The first thing that visitors and volunteers see at the Tent of Nations just outside of Bethlehem is a large stone on which are written the words, “We refuse to be enemies.” As Israeli settlements draw ever closer to their land and the Israeli Defense Forces destroy their orchards, the Nassar family continues to pay a heavy price in their practice of Jesus’ teaching, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6:27-28).”

The Nassars refuse to divide the world into friends and enemies, challenging the rest of us to do the same.

As a Christian, I was raised to be pro-Israel. Since going to the region many times, I’ve become pro-Palestinian and pro-peace, too, which has led me to explore the narratives of Palestinians as well as Israelis. I grieve the deaths in both Israel and Palestine. Every human life has extraordinary value. The loss of even one life is a loss to all of us.

Jim Wallis 07-24-2014
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Refugees Fleeing ISIS Offensive Pour Into Kurdistan, Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The horrible human costs and increasing danger the world is now facing in Gaza, Ukraine, and Iraq show the consequences of not telling the truth. And unfortunately, we seem to mostly have political leaders who are unwilling to admit the truth of what’s happening, deal with root causes instead of exploiting symptoms, and then do everything possible to prevent the escalation of violence and further wars. Instead we have politicians who are mostly looking for opportunities to blame their political opponents, boost their own reputations, and protect business interests. As people of faith, we are called to speak the truth in love.

It’s time for some truth telling.

Munther Isaac 11-28-2012
Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler

Protesters supporting Palestinian statehood confront Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Al-Walaja on Sept. 16.

On Nov. 29, Palestinians will bid to become a “non-member observer state” in the United Nations. If approved, this would be a major step toward full statehood for Palestinians. Israel, and perhaps more important, the United States, are against this move, not least for fear of possible war-crime investigations against Israel. Israel’s rationale has always been that a final resolution cannot be achieved unilaterally, but only through direct negotiations. Ironically, Israel achieved its own independence unilaterally and through the United Nations.

Palestinian Christians leaders have sent a strong message of support for this step. A statement signed by 100 community leader says:

We believe the Palestine Liberation Organization’s initiative to enhance Palestine’s status in the United Nations to an Observer State is a positive, collective, and moral step that will get us closer to freedom. This is a step in the right direction for the cause of a just peace in the region. We fully endorse this bid, just as we supported Palestine’s application for full membership of the United Nations a year ago.

Gary M. Burge 12-12-2011

Ridiculous. Ignorant. Racist. Dangerous. 

These are just a few of the terms that flew out of the Middle East this weekend following Newt Gingrich’s unwelcome remarks about Israel and the Palestinians on Friday.

As the Republican front-runner, Gingrich was speaking to the cable TV Jewish Channel and hoping to curry favor with its conservative pro-Israel constituency. 

What did he do? He described the Palestinians as an “invented people” and lumped every Palestinian under the terrorist umbrella. There is no difference between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, he said.

On Saturday night during the ABC Republican debate, Gingrich doubled-down: “They [the Palestinians] are all terrorists.”

A few of the other candidates looked, well, alarmed.


Alex Awad 09-26-2011
Late last week Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at the United Nations to request an official recognition of Palestine as an independent state with full statehood status at the UN.
Chuck Collins 07-15-2011

Bahamasphoto © 2010 John Hilliard | more info (via: Wylio)
As Christians concerned about poverty, it is time to turn our full attention to the injustices of an "offshore tax system" that enables corporations and the wealthy to dodge taxes and impoverish countries around the world.

As members of Congress in the United States debate deep and painful budget cuts, people of faith should raise our voices against an unfair system that enables profitable U.S. corporations to dodge taxes, depleting an estimated $100 billion from the U.S. Treasury each year. Instead of cutting $1 trillion over the next decade from programs that assist the poor and ensure greater opportunity, we should eliminate these destructive tax gimmicks.

Recent reports show that aggressive tax dodgers such as General Electric, Boeing, and Pfizer, avoid billions in taxes a year. They use accounting gymnastics to pretend they are making profits in offshore subsidiaries incorporated in low- or no-tax countries like the Cayman Islands, thereby reducing their tax obligations in the United States. This system is unfair to domestic businesses that have to compete on an un-level playing field.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow 03-24-2011
During the past week we have seen both the worst and the best versions of Palestinian action.
Aaron Taylor 02-02-2011

I love going to the gym in the mornings. It gives me a chance to watch the news. It also gives me a chance to compare the differences between the major networks and how they cover the events of the day.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow 06-01-2010
On May 31, I awoke to news reports that the Israeli Navy had boarded and fired on 10 small ships in international waters approaching the coast of Gaza and bearing humanitarian supplies for Palestin
Rabbi Arthur Waskow 04-12-2010

There is a biblical story in which Samson used the jawbone of an ass to defeat his enemies. Today some politicians seem to think "jawboning" -- talk and more talk, whether sweet or angry -- can actually win peace in the Middle East. But it will take much stronger action.

Ryan Beiler 04-09-2010

Several sources have recommended this commentary by M.J. Rosenberg at Media Matters as a helpful analysis of the new "Obama Peace Plan" for the Middle East.

Brian McLaren 02-08-2010
It's one thing to go to the "Holy Land" and see where Jesus worked and walked in the past.
Aaron Taylor 10-07-2009
A few days ago I received a mass e-mail from the ACLJ. For those who don't get their daily dose of Christian talk radio, ACLJ stands for the American Center for Law and Justice.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow 09-23-2009

During these days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jews are called on to reexamine our own actions -- our "missings of the mark." The emphasis is on OUR sins -- not those of individuals alone, but of the community -- and the sins of ourselves, not of other people, even our en

Ryan Beiler 03-23-2009

In last week's SojoMail, the quote of the week was from an Israeli squad leader describing the incredulous reactions of his men when he took measures to protect civilian lives during the invasion of Gaza.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow 01-29-2009
Beyond anguish, what can we say about the massive death and destruction in Gaza and the traumatic fear of falling rockets in Israel?
J. Daryl Byler 01-27-2009
I began a fast for peace when Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip. Last week, I ended the fast, as fighting has stopped and most if not all the troops have left Gaza.
Nate Van Duzer 01-16-2009
A year ago I heard a Palestinian diplomat describe Capitol Hill as "Israeli-occupied territory" in a speech given at Georgetown University.