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January 15, 2024

On MLK Day, Pressley and Interfaith Coalition Call for Ceasefire in Gaza

“As we commemorate Dr. King’s legacy, let us recommit ourselves to the belief that life is precious through demanding a ceasefire…”

“History shows us that violence will only lead to more violence. The only way forward is to follow the path of peace.”

BOSTON — Today on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 95th birthday, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined a coalition of nearly 100 interfaith clergy and faith leaders on a joint statement calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Drawing on Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolence and peace, the statement comes with over 24,000 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis killed over the course of 100 days, and over 100 hostages still held captive by Hamas in Gaza.

“On this day, we commemorate the legacy of a man whose words and actions echoed the principles of justice and peace – the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As we reflect on his contributions to and sacrifices for the pursuit of collective liberation and freedom, it is imperative that we extend the spirit of his message to regions around the world where injustice persists.

“We are speaking of the ongoing and deeply rooted struggle for peace in Israel and Palestine, a land held sacred by so many faith traditions. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 15, 2024, will be exactly 100 days since October 7th, 2023. In these 100 days, we have seen tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed. In Israel, we saw entire families murdered and entire communities destroyed, while over one hundred people are still being unjustly held hostage in Gaza by Hamas. In Gaza, we have seen thousands of Palestinian children slaughtered, hospitals brimming with injured in the tens of thousands, and places of worship in rubble. We have seen children bury their parents, and parents come home from buying bread to find their children and families killed in bombings. We have seen hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes, uncertain of where they will find food, water or shelter from the rain and snow. This conflict is not new, it is a chain reaction of violence and trauma that leaves a trail of sorrow and hardship for families in both Palestine and Israel. 

“Dr. King stated, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ These words resonate with a timeless truth, especially now. Those of us who love peace as Dr. King loved peace have a choice to make. We can either stand silently by as hate begets hate, as we witness violence based on retribution and endless occupation, actions that will inevitably lead to generations more of war, bloodshed, lives lost and mutually assured destruction. Or we can advocate for actions that will lead to a future of peace, freedom and safety for Israelis and Palestinians alike, free from the violence we are seeing unfold. We know that a permanent ceasefire is the beginning of a journey towards this future of a lasting and just peace.  

“It is easy to only witness this conflict through the screen of a phone and consider it unchangeable. But today as we honor Dr. King’s legacy, we cannot afford to underestimate the power of grassroots movements, especially those centered on our shared love for humanity as people of faith. Dr. King warned us of the three evils in society of poverty, racism and militarism, and he taught us the transformative impact that collective voices can have on shaping the arc of nations. As King declared, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ In this moment of challenge, let us stand on the side of humanity. As we commemorate Dr. King’s legacy, let us recommit ourselves to the belief that life is precious through demanding a ceasefire, which is the best way to save lives, return all hostages, and deliver the humanitarian aid desperately needed in Gaza.

“We recall that Dr. King reminded us: ‘We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action.’ Today, we refuse to be silent or stay caught in indecision. Every day without a permanent ceasefire, the number of the dead and the scale of destruction grows. History shows us that violence will only lead to more violence. The only way forward is to follow the path of peace. Ceasefire now.”

Rep. Pressley joined over 90 leaders from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and other faith traditions in signing the statement, including Rev. Nikira Hernandez, Brighton Allston Congregational Church, Rev. Darrell R. Hamilton II, The First Baptist Church in, Jamaica Plain, Imam Ahmad Barry, Rev. Aisha Ansano. Rev. Otto Concannon, First Parish in Malden, Rev. Ashlee Wiest-Laird, First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, Mosque for Praising Allah, Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen, Community Justice Exchange, Chaplain Ylisse C. Bess, Rev. Jo Murphy, Rev. Shea Thompson, Rev. Rob Mark, Rev. Erica Rose Long, Rabbi Rebecca Zimmerman Hornstein, Boston Workers Circle, Imam Taalib Mahdee, Masjid Al Qur’an, Rev. Art J. Gordon, St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Fred Small, Rev. Heather Concannon, Rev. Miniard Culpepper, Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, Rabbi Leora Abelson, Rabbi Leah Nussbaum, Rev. Willie Bodrick, II J.D., M.Div., Twelfth Baptist Church, The Very Rev. Amy McCreath, Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston (Episcopal), Rev. James Harrison Jr., Southern Baptist Church, Rev. Bernadette Hickman-Maynard, Rev. Erica F Richmond, Arlington, MA, Rev. Arrington Chambliss, St Mary’s Dorchester, Rev. Dr. Michelle A. Walsh, Tuckerman Creative Ministries for Justice & Healing, Rev. Dr. Clyde Grubbs, Tuckerman Creative Ministries, Muslims for Justice, Rev. Isaac P. Martinez, The Allston Abbey, Rev. Ashley Popperson, Rev. Lindsay Popperson, Old North Church, Marblehead, Rev. Myozen Joan Amaral, Zen Center North Shore, Rev. Dr. Andre K. Bennett, Marc Fredette, UU Minister, Rev. Edmund Robinson, First Parish in Hingham/Old Ship, Chaplain Christie Towers, Rev. Kenneth Read-Brown, Rev. Martha Schick, Cassandra Montenegro, Esq., First Parish in Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist, Rev. Dr. William J. Gardiner, Rev. Wendy Page, Rev. Elizabeth Bukey Saunter, Rev. Mel Pace, Rabbi Becky Silverstein, Rev. Katie Omberg, Rev. Rali M Weaver, First Church and Parish Dedham, Rev. Anne M. Rousseau, Rev. Brett R. Johnson, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Wakefield, MA, Rev. James Leavitt, Rev. Daryn Bunce Stylianopoulos, Mohanad Mossalam, Khateeb, Malden Islamic Center, Daniela Harrigan, Movement Chaplain, MC Miller, Candidate for Ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, University Lutheran Church, Cambridge, MA, Allison N Brown, Pastoral Candidate for Ordination , The Episcopal Church, India Wood, Seminarian, Boston University Theological School, Rhea Brown-Bright, Director of Faith Formation, First Parish Dorchester, Boston University School of Theology, Linden Jenkins, St Cecilia Parish Social & Racial Justice Ministry, Vincent Ware, Director of Public Affairs & Civic Engagement, MAS Boston (Muslim American Society), Becca Heisler, Rabbinical Student, Jayce Koester, Rabbinical Student, Hadar Ahuvia, Rabbinical Student, Sam Tygiel, Rabbinical Student, Alex Bailey Dillon, Rabbinical Student, Hannah Limov, Rabbinical Student, Chaim Spaulding, Rabbinical Student, Aaron Berc, Rabbinical Student, Rivka Nechemya Thrope, Rabbinical Student, Max Davis, Rabbinical Student, Sivan Piatigorsky, Rabbinical Student, Rayden Marcum, Rabbinical Student, Rumni Saha (MDiv, MEd), Ian Evans, Clergy in training, McKayla Hoffman, Ministerial Intern, Nichole Mossalam, Muslim Activist, Elizabeth Claggett-Borne, Friends (Quakers) for Racial Justice, Carole Rein, Quaker, North Shore Friends (Quakers), Polly Attwood, Quaker, Friends Meeting Cambridge, Isabella Bates, Quaker, North Shore Quaker Meeting, Dr. Esther Ngotho, Zen Center North Shore, Nora Williams, Zen Center North Shore, Michael Carey, Peace and Social Justice Committee, Friends Meeting Cambridge, Don Gianniny, Peace and Social Justice Committee, Friends Meeting Cambridge, Holly Aloha Jaynes, Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead, Ehab Hilali, Community Organizer, Independent Drivers Guild, Nicole Moore, UU Church of Marblehead & Zen Center North Shore, Sarah Manasrah, Community Organizer, Salimah Adawiya, Educator, Rabbi Victor Reinstein, Dr. Jamal Carlos Saeh, Palestinian Catholic, Friend Kristina Keefe-Perry, Three Rivers Worship Group, Rev. Carrie Ballenger, University Lutheran Church, Rev. Tricia Brennan, and Rev. Dr. Christopher Ney, United Church of Christ.

Rep. Pressley joined Congresswoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) and their colleagues on a resolution condemning Hamas’ brutal attack and hostage-taking, and demanding Hamas immediately release all hostages.

Rep. Pressley joined Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Betty McCollum (MN-4) and 20 of their colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden, asking him to support a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza to protect the one million children living there.

Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues in announcing a resolution urging the Biden Administration to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza, and to save as many lives as possible. She later joined her colleagues and a multi-faith, multiracial coalition of faith leaders and organizers for a prayer and press conference to renew their calls for a ceasefire. Rep. Pressley also joined dozens of rabbis and Members of Congress for a press conference to renew calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Rep. Pressley joined Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), James P. McGovern (MA-02), and 50 colleagues on a letter condemning the terrorist attacks by Hamas on the people of Israel, calling for Israeli military operations to follow the rules of international humanitarian law, and continuing to work toward peace in the region.

Rep. Pressley joined Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), and nearly 150 colleagues in urging the State Department to use all tools at its disposal help get Americans out of Israel and back home to the United States. She applauded the State Department for heeding her calls on October 12, 2023 and continues to press for the urgent evacuation of Americans in Gaza.

Rep. Pressley issued a statement following the safe evacuation of Massachusetts constituents Wafaa and Abood Okal and their one-year-old Yousef from Gaza.

Rep. Pressley delivered a floor speech in which she condemned antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hate on college campuses.