Jews and Muslims launch peace initiative as deadly fighting rages on in Gaza

Jewish and Muslim dignitaries launched a passionate appeal for peace on Saturday from the Bosnian town of Srebrenica on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as deadly fighting rages in the Gaza Strip.

A “Jewish-Muslim Initiative for Peace” was presented and signed at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial Centre by the President of the World Federation of Bergen-Belsen Associations and American lawyer, Menachem Rosensaft, and the religious leader of Bosnian Muslims, Husein Kavazovic.

The place where the appeal was launched holds a symbolic weight, as the Bosnian town saw around 8,000 Muslim men and teenagers killed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995 — a crime described as genocide by international justice.

“We join together in sorrow and our tears become prayers, prayers of remembrance, but also prayers of hope,” Rosensaft — who is also general counsel emeritus of the World Jewish Congress — said at the ceremony.

He added that this “commemoration” of the victims of the Holocaust and the Srebrenica genocide was also the time and place to “jointly commit” to act to “prevent the horrors we remember here today from being repeated.”

“We remember six million innocent Jews killed and many millions of other victims of fascist and Nazi ideology,” said the Bosnian Grand Mufti.

“We do this at the place where, half a century after the historic ‘Never Again’, humanity had again failed its test of responsibility,” he added.

‘Our two peoples have suffered’

More than six million European Jews were exterminated by the Nazis during the Second World War, including around 12,000 in Bosnia, virtually the entire local community.

“Muslims and Jews are one body. Our ties are strong, forged in times of hardship as well as in times of prosperity… Our two peoples have suffered and have been subjected to attempts to eradicate them”, Kavazovic said, referring to Bosnian Jews and Muslims.

In the peace initiative, signed in the presence of the president of the association of mothers of Srebrenica, Munira Subasic and the president of the Jewish community of Bosnia Jakob Finci, the two men called for “forging the path of reconciliation” and “actively building peace.”

Both commemorated the Israeli victims of the bloody attack on Israel by the militant movement Hamas on 7 October and the Palestinian victims of the Israeli response in the Gaza Strip.

“Resistance to occupation cannot justify criminal acts, just as the call to fight terrorism cannot justify the murder of civilians and collective punishment,” top Bosnian Islamic cleric said.

The initiative collected applause from Brussels, as Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic called it “a beacon of hope at a time when divisions often seem insurmountable.”

“This commitment to fostering partnerships and meaningful dialogue is a powerful testament to the strength that lies in unity,” Mijatovic said in a statement.

“It is our collective responsibility to create conditions conducive to remembering and commemorating the victims of past genocides and fighting all manifestations of antisemitism, anti-Muslim hatred and forms of ethnic or religious intolerance,” she added.

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