Dear Friends & Partners -
We, as PACT, sincerely apologize for our decision to rescind the award to honor Zahra Billoo for her leadership in the local community.
In our efforts to be responsive to one set of leaders, we inadvertently participated in efforts to silence a faith leader and close partner expressing moral critique of an ongoing human rights crisis in Palestine. In fact, conversations are much needed about the injustice that occurs every day in Palestine, and its connection to the issues we work on including racism, border walls, and police violence.
We humbly thank the many people who have been in honest dialogue with us over the past few weeks regarding the issues and our missteps. We have been in intense conversations with many faith leaders, including our own Faith in Action national leaders and Black clergy, members of the Muslim, Jewish, and Palestinian communities who felt targeted and silenced, as well as others in our local community and beyond. Those conversations are ongoing.
We have also met with Zahra to seek reconciliation. She has agreed to accept a reinstatement of the award and will speak at our 2018 luncheon. Zahra and CAIR-SFBA are valued and important partners with PACT and leaders in our multicultural community.
Based on our discussions with Zahra and PICO California, PACT commits to:
1. Examine PACT’s internal systems and creating structural changes to address the problems in our process and to reflect more voices, including Muslim voices, at the staff and board level as well as in our faith-based membership. We will seek, working with CAIR, to add Muslim congregations to our membership and have their representatives on our board.
2. Facilitate the participation of a PACT delegation, including our Executive Director and key leaders, in PICO CA’s Learning Lab in Israel/Palestine.
3. Provide training for PACT staff and grassroots and faith leaders on Islamophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, Christian hegemony, and intersectionality to expand PACT’s understanding and messaging: our liberation is interconnected.
This is about more than an award and we understand that the reinstatement accompanied with these important commitments are steps forward on the path to reconciliation. We are a principled organization, with a member base which is continually working for justice for our broader community, a community where truly #WeALLBelong.
We are hopeful this painful situation will create deep learning and structural change within PACT and our broader community. We are grateful to many people from many different perspectives who have expressed that they are committed to working with us to make that happen.
We look forward to working with Zahra, CAIR-SFBA, and all of you as we move forward.
Lilia Garrido, Fr. Jon Pedigo, Greg Smith & Marci Gerston, Officers of the Board of Directors
PACT: People Acting in Community Together