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FCNL is deeply concerned that Iran’s recent retaliatory strikes on Israeli territory, following Israel’s unlawful attacks on its diplomatic facility in Syria in early April, will only fuel more war, bloodshed, and regional instability. War is not the answer and another round of retaliation strikes by any party to the conflict will only further inflame the region and drive more violence. 

We call on U.S. lawmakers to immediately press for diplomacy, de-escalation, and restraint between Israel and Iran to prevent an even larger conflagration. We also renew our call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and no new weapon sales to Israel, which would escalate the situation and send a message of impunity in the face of repeated violations of international law. 

After months of destruction in Gaza, on top of decades of horrific conflicts in the Middle East during the failed “War on Terror,” Americans do not want to be dragged into yet another endless war. In October, polling showed that roughly 80% of Americans were concerned that the war in Gaza would lead to a larger conflict in the Middle East. Despite the Biden Administration’s stated goal of preventing a full-blown regional war, the risk has only increased since then and has now reached a boiling point.

Since October 7, we have witnessed Israel trade provocative strikes with Iran and its allies across the Middle East. These actions have knowingly risked retaliation and have only served to escalate tensions in the region, contrary to U.S. national security interests. Despite this risk and unheeded calls for Israeli restraint by U.S. policymakers, the United States continues to provide unconditional military support and weapons sales to Israel.

What is clear is that these escalations are directly connected to the war in Gaza and will continue without a ceasefire and robust regional dialogue. Famine now grips the most vulnerable in Gaza and there is no end in sight to the bloodshed with Israel’s disastrous Rafah offensive looming. Without a ceasefire and steps to address the humanitarian crisis, the threat of violence between Israel and Iran will persist unabated. 

As Quakers, we pray for everyone suffering and living in fear across the Middle East. The war in Gaza has brought catastrophic humanitarian suffering and resulted in tens of thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians killed. Over a hundred Israelis are still being held hostage in Gaza, and Israelis fear even more attacks on their territory. Iranian civilians now fear a destructive reprisal attack on their territory, and the threat of conflict will only further suppress moderate voices striving for diplomatic solutions to the crisis.

There is still a window of opportunity to de-escalate the region but that depends on Congress and the Biden Administration redoubling their efforts to promote diplomacy, de-escalation, restraint, and a ceasefire in Gaza and across the Middle East. FCNL yearns for a future where Israelis, Palestinians, Iranians, and all those living in the region, can coexist in peace and security. It is incumbent upon us all to work towards that vision with determination before more innocent lives are lost.