EBMC’s Stance on Gaza

This statement was published to our newsletter on November 10th 2023

We are deeply grateful to this community for the care and commitment we are witnessing and your willingness to engage deeply so we can be the type of meditation center you call home. As Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us in his book Creating Peace, “The secret of creating peace is that when you listen to another person you have only one purpose: to offer [them] an opportunity to empty [their] heart.”

May you know we receive your heart fully. We are committed to being a place of refuge where individuals can find peace, solace, safety, and a sense of belonging. Our hearts wish to offer a more principled stance about what is unfolding in Palestine and Israel.

East Bay Meditation Center’s Leadership Sangha and Staff join the resounding global chorus of people demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and all the occupied Palestinian territories. We believe that peace is not only the absence of armed conflict but also the conditions that enable free and equal access to resources and self-determination for Palestinians. Thus, we further call for the unimpeded entry of humanitarian aid, and the restoration of water, food, fuel, electricity, and internet for the people of Gaza, and we call as well for the protection of Palestinian indigenous communities—the Bedouin Jahalin, al-Kaabneh, al-Azazmeh, al-Ramadin, and al-Rshaida tribes — and the release of all Palestinian and Israeli hostages and political prisoners to support an end to violence.

We are witnessing an unfolding genocide and escalation of decades of state-sanctioned violence and land dispossession against Palestinians. It is heartbreaking to witness how innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza are now being bombed and killed in their homes, hospitals, places of worship, schools, and neighborhoods. Their collective punishment, the unlawful blockage of humanitarian access for civilians of Gaza, followed by infeasible evacuation orders and forcible transfer of the population in Gaza are all grave violations of international humanitarian law. The number of Palestinians killed is now over 10,000 people, and this number continues to grow even as we mark one month since Hamas’ October 7th attack, when 1,200 Israelis were killed and hundreds of civilian hostages were captured.

We recognize the complex historical and colonial roots of the conflict. We are witnessing the forces of US-sanctioned occupation and settler colonialism actively facilitating hatred, division, dehumanization, and asymmetrical violence. This violence is occurring between groups of people who have both historic and ongoing relationships to genocidal oppression.

We stand firmly against these waves of dehumanization, hatred, and violence in all their manifestations, be they anti-semitism, islamophobia, Zionism, and more. Affirming Palestinian rights, dignity, and humanity is also a call for those truths to be exercised for all. As the Plum Village Monastic Community of the USA writes in their recent statement, violence only leads to more violence and reduces any possibility of dialogue and reconciliation; therefore, we need to “go beyond the delusive and destructive idea that we are separate from each other” and resist the temptation to dehumanize, blame, punish, or retaliate against the perceived other. The conditions that Palestinians in Gaza have been living within are a form of violence. Settler colonization is a form of violence. All genocides are violence, and what we are witnessing unfolding in Palestine is violence that we cannot turn away from. Through the lens of dharma, we see the imperative of confronting oppression with a heart of wisdom and a resolve for a peaceful, equitable future.

We encourage you to join us in calling for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid in Gaza :

Contact your representatives This link includes a script and click-to-call feature.

Join actions against the Gaza siege and genocide— U.S Campaign for Palestinian Rights and Jewish Voice for Peace .

We are in this together. Your feedback, dialogue, pain, sadness, solidarity, practice, and growth are all welcome in our pursuit of being a community of deep, dynamic, and expansive metta. We hope you join us in practice and participate in emerging events offered by EBMC. We will be working with sangha members leading on these issues to organize more opportunities for reflection, dialogue, action, and refuge.

In our imperfection, grief, anger, and deep compassion, we are  beside you. With care,

EBMC Staff and Leadership Sangha

Editor’s note: Inspired by the Othering and Belonging Institute’s statement we acknowledge that this statement reflects the contributions of diverse EBMC members and does not fully capture the nuances and sentiments many of us feel. We hope to share more in the weeks to come and invite you to share with us here.