In the days since the outbreak of brutal violence in Israel and Gaza, communities across the country and around the world have been drawn into conflict, grief, and uncertainty. Even before the violence started, religiously-motivated hate crimes in America had spiked, reaching their highest levels since 2001 – and we’re seeing how current events in the Middle East have already contributed to a concerning rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia here at home. This week on The State of Belief, Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, host Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush checks in with three leaders with important insight into how we can forge alliances across differences and root out hate.

“There’s a real risk in this kind of pain, which is that we harden our hearts, just like Pharaoh in Egypt. And we harden our hearts to the suffering of the other people on the other side of this border. And no matter what we believe in terms of politics, I don’t want to harden my heart to the suffering of others.” – Rabbi Dr. Jay Michelson, commentator for CNN and a columnist for Rolling Stone. Jay is a meditation teacher and the author of ten books, including The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path, and is affiliated professor at Chicago Theological Seminary.

“It’s a collective human failing that we can have so many people murdered and in such precarious situations. It’s not a moment to be polarized. That’s deeply painful for me, just from my own religious ethics. Human life is human life; human dignity is human dignity. It’s not dependent on somebody’s ethnicity or creed.” – Dr. Celene Ibrahim, religious studies scholar with a focus on Islamic intellectual history and applied ethics. Celene is a member of the advisory council at the Miller Center for Interreligious Leadership at Hebrew College, and an affiliate faculty member at the Boston Islamic Seminary.

“Everyone on both sides of this conflict is human. Now, that does not mean that we don’t have to restrain and condemn really bad human behavior; but it’s human behavior, and that these are human beings that are being killed and maimed and tortured, and who suffered. And in my tradition, human beings are made in the image of God, full stop.” – Rev. Fred Davie, strategic advisor at Union Seminary and former member of the Obama administration’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Fred is currently vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and senior advisor for racial equity at Interfaith America.

To expand our reach, State of Belief  is now being distributed via the Religion News Service family of podcasts. Be sure to subscribe to the next generation of State of Belief today via AppleSpotifyAmazon, or  at

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