Statement on Israel/Palestine

October 24, 2023

As individuals who embrace a secular or naturalistic approach to the dharma, one that is based on the goal of reducing suffering and facilitating the flourishing of all beings in this world, we feel a responsibility to speak out about the horrific events in Israel and Palestine.

While there are diverse political perspectives among us, we all recognize the need to avoid dualistic and simplistic views on this issue which lack an adequate historical context and ignore the broader, structural causes of this violent conflict. These types of views promote hatred and bigotry, reinforcing the cycle of blame and violence.

But we also know that a more adequate understanding of the situation is not enough; our perspectives and actions must be based on a deep sense of care for all beings, an insistent demand for non-violent and just solutions, and an overall attitude of kindness. When we bring these dharmic values into our interactions with others and our political activities, we embody the kind of compassionate action that is essential in this world wherever violence is being perpetrated by any group against another.

Those of us who embrace a secular or naturalistic approach to the dharma recognize that individual transformation and well-being are integrally connected to and dependent on creating a society in which all beings are valued and can live in a just, peaceful world. Compassionate action is not a supplement to our practice but a vital part of the path that we walk together.

We recognize that Israel/Palestine is not the only region in our world where people are suffering from violence and harm, often as a result of inter-ethnic conflict supported and facilitated by powerful elites. According to the Geneva Academy, there are 45 violent conflicts occurring now throughout the world, in Yemen, Sudan, Colombia, and the Ukraine. Millions of people are suffering. All of us must do what we can to bring compassionate action and wisdom to help resolve these conflicts as well.

We, of course, are not alone in responding to the events in Israel and Palestine. Valuable and insightful statements have recently been issued by several organizations in the Buddhist community, including:

The Plum Village Monastic Community – Click here for their statement.

The Buddhist Peace Fellowship - Click here for their statement.

The Upaya Zen Center - Click here for their statement: “HATRED IS NEVER APPEASED BY HATRED”

This statement was developed by an ad hoc group of participants in SBN’s monthly discussion group.



5 Replies to “Statement on Israel/Palestine”


You just brush aside the horrific attacks by Hamas to appear above it all. Especially belittling the attacks by discussing other atrocities in the world. Typical passive antisemitism of the far left.


A most predictable but disappointing statement. Dismissing the freedom struggle of an oppressed, poor and brutalised people, who have been at the receiving end of 50+ years of violence, humiliation, economic strangulation and landgrab by one of the richest most powerful and sophisticated armies of a settler colonial Apartheid state – fully funded and aided by other former colonial powers and powerful settler colonial states – as if it’s just another conflict rather than a liberation struggle is to take a cowardly way out. I wonder if similar bromides would have been put out in response to the violent reaction of Indigenous Americans against the violence of European colonialists or the Haitian slaves raising up against their slave masters or the liberation movement of Africans against Apartheid in South Africa? Which is not to say violence can or should ever be justified but it behoves all decent human beings to acknowledge the suffering of the weak and the powerless and the context in which their (violent) reactions arise when they are left with no hope. In rightly mentioning the need to recognise historical context and structural causes of conflict, should it not have been stated that violence begets violence and at its core, the Israel-Palestine issue is the brutal and suffocating occupation by the former of the latter?

Sofija Terzic

Agree. Buddhists in general, with very few exceptions, are blind to the dimension of power. But this is especially true for the Buddhists in the West, where Buddhism is much more an individual enterprise than in many Asian countries, where Buddhists don’t have a problem taking a clear stance against oppression etc. It is horrible and depressing to read Buddhists’ statements on this conflict as if it is a conflict of equal parties. It is horrifying actually, it leaves me wondering if the compassion, so central in all Buddhist branches, is merely lip service. What would their statement have been when Germany occupied Poland, during the Second World War, or when the nazis gathered the Jews in the ghettos? I wouldn’t put too much hope in the Buddhist communities when it comes to taking a stance against oppression, injustices, and even, as in this case, ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people by the apartheid state of Israel. It is deeply shameful and for me, as a Buddhist, embarrassing.

Ira Rifkin

Here’s an old journalistic saying: if both sides are upset it’s because a report (or statement) attempted to remain rational and unbiased — which are distinct from street-level emotions.

Ian Wright

That was my thought when I read the two comments above

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