Penny S. Tee
May You Live in Peace, שלום and سلام.

As Ramadan Approaches, Will the Peace Hold?

PEACE with Penny

As Ramadan Approaches, Will the Peace Hold? What Peace? The Peace achieved in the towns of Husan, Beitar Illit, and Tzur Hadassah. If you don’t know what this Jewish American woman is talking about, read Peace Exists Today Between Israelis and Palestinians? Yes! Part I  or you can check out the video I’ve attached for anyone that wants to view Part I instead of reading.

Ramadan, the Muslim holiday, during which fasting begins at dawn and ends at dusk with a celebration, and is considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The fast starts after a pre-dawn meal called the suhur and the meal at sunset is the iftar. So, it seems that it’s lunch and no drinking that is omitted from the day’s pleasures. Not being allowed to swig my seltzer water makes me thirsty just thinking about it. And working, under those circumstances, would stress me out.  But of course, I’m an outsider and I imagine if I was Muslim, I’d be happy to observe, or at least accommodate the practices. Lasting a whole month sounds especially difficult. Additionally, sex is off-limits. The point of the holiday is for introspection, to become closer to God and their community, and to do good deeds. 1

Maher Hathout, author of Jihad vs. Terrorism, believes “extremist fringes in Islam, as in other religions, have long used religious philosophies to justify their actions. ‘It’s really the onset of technology, the ability for small numbers of people to wreak significant destruction, and have those acts widely publicized, that has led to the increased attention on them.’”2

“It’s categorically mentioned” (in the Quran), “in clear Arabic language, that you only fight those who fight,” Hathout continued. “You don’t harm civilians, children, or even infrastructure.”3  As we saw on October 7th, Hamas doesn’t play by the rules.

But as with all things in the Middle East, it’s complicated. Jihad literally means ‘exerted effort.” ‘…” In the Koran it’s projected as exerting effort to change oneself, and also in certain situations physically standing against oppressors if that’s the only way.”4  There’s the rub. Who determines if that’s the only way.

Oy, I think extremists take advantage of that loophole and proceed on the destructive path of terrorism.

Ramadan 2024 begins March 11th. The al-Quds Brigades, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s military wing, sent out a disturbing announcement stating it is calling for the holy month of Ramadan to be filled with “terror and panic,” beginning on the first day to be a “global day of support for Gaza.”5 This does nothing to quell my concerns.

The commandment to do good deeds for Ramadan seems a direct contradiction, but the extremists seem to couch the appeal with promises of special rewards in Heaven. Hopefully, the masses will follow a more Peaceful path.

Phil Saunders, of Path of Hope and Peace

Now, what has Phil Saunders been doing on his Peace activist journey? A couple of things related directly to what’s happening currently. The first speaks to the beginning of Ramadan. Tensions are mounting as the Palestinians in the West Bank haven’t been able to work in Israel for over five months as they had done for years. It made me wonder what they are doing for food.

Phil has been nervous because of all the issues, and on Friday he met with the locals including his Palestinian partners for a pre-Ramadan dinner of maqluba (a traditional Levantine dish, popular in all Arab countries), a unique way to spend Shabbat. So far, he has good news. Now, no one can account for everyone, but Phil reports that so far there is no desire to stray from the current Peaceful atmosphere during Ramadan in Husan.

His Palestinian friends said they felt that their situation where they live was so much better than in Gaza, and they were grateful that they have their homes intact and enough food to survive, if not to have a big celebration. They were planning to have prayers for Ramadan during the day and cancel the celebrations at night to try to avoid getting people riled up, leaving room for frustrations to be released. Iftars will be low-key. They’ve accepted that if the war is still waging, they won’t be allowed to go to the Al Aqsa Mosque to pray because entrance to Jerusalem won’t be permitted, and as far as Eid al-Fitr, the last grand celebration of the month, well, if the war hasn’t ended, they won’t be in the mood to celebrate anyway.

When he met with the new professional soldiers being led by a Druze officer, they were very friendly, to his relief. They were shocked that he wanted to go into Husan, being a lone, unescorted Jewish Israeli. As Phil tells me, he told the soldiers casually, “Yes, I’m going into Husan to have dinner with the family.”

The soldiers debated with each other and eventually let him proceed with the wary, confused expressions still on their faces, and they wished him a good meal. When Phil returned with a full tummy and told them it was a great dinner, the soldiers were all smiles. Not the reaction of the past contingents of reservists, he reminded me, and he was encouraged that there were new sheriffs in town, God bless him, and them.

He told me, “The Druze officer in charge is awesome, and right now things are good, and we all hope it stays that way.” He’s not naïve, but they’ve done immense, effective work since 2014. Now, a decade later they strive to keep it Peaceful in this area of the West Bank and Israel, which unfortunately isn’t an assurance that all the West Bank will remain quiet during Ramadan, nor even here. If the West Bank explodes, no one can speak for everyone in the area, not even Ziad, as hard as he tries to keep the Peace. Let’s hope their stated support for the Peaceful environment that they’ve had for these years continues to win the favor of the local residents, superseding any calamities that might ensue in the rest of the land. Amen.

When I was thinking about the discomfort I would feel if having to fast and then also pray five times daily for a month while working, (realizing of course that religious Jews pray several times daily as well), I decided to look further into what it’s like to work under these conditions.

While researching, I found a recent article in Forbes on how to foster understanding about Ramadan at work:

  1. Accommodate flexible working hours or the option to work from home. Fasting depletes energy, and it’s helpful to be able to alter work schedules.6
  2. Set aside a room or space for prayer.7
  3. Respect their fasting, but you can still eat in front of them.8
  4. Be cognizant of scheduling meetings and events. The prayer times can vary a bit daily and by location.9 Just ask if there is a conflict.

You must also remember that not all Muslims observe in the same way and for some, they have health reasons which may preclude them from fasting. Doing good deeds reminded me of tzedakah, in the Jewish religion and fasting is akin to the Jewish High Holy Days, but we fast for one day and no food or water is allowed for 25 hours from sunset to sunset. We don’t work that day, and we pray from sunset throughout the next day, but we do sleep, of course. I would be quite miserable if I had to work while fasting. It is believed that your efforts will be markedly rewarded.10 You’re not supposed to do immoral acts either, but as always, what’s considered wrong is in the eye of the beholder.

What struck me was how many similarities we have as Jews and Muslims, but after all, we are from the same Abrahamic family. It’s a shame too many in our family don’t get along. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that the Peace holds in this patch of promising attitudes, and with all our Peace organizations we’ve met over the last three years.

BTW, there actually will be a Part III, because Phil attended the recent end of the 4-Day March for Freeing the hostages, and I thought you’d like to hear about it. When we first discussed the event, we were on the edge of our seats as to whether there would be a release of some of the hostages, but it ended in disappointment with the negotiators leaving due to a stalemate. It wasn’t surprising, Hamas is not a sincere adversary to negotiate with. Stay tuned.

Join us on our journey.

May You Live in Peace, שלום and سلام


1 “When is Ramadan 2024? What is it? Muslims set to mark a month of spirituality, reflection,” USA TODAY, by Sarah Al-Arshani, 3/8/2024,

2 “What Does “Jihad” Really Mean to Muslims?” National Geographic, Brian Handwerk, October 24, 2003.

3 “What Does “Jihad” Really Mean to Muslims?” National Geographic, Brian Handwerk, October 24, 2003.

4 “What Does “Jihad” Really Mean to Muslims?” National Geographic, Brian Handwerk, October 24, 2003.

5 “Palestinian Islamic Jihad calls for Ramadan to be ‘month of terror and panic,’”Just the News, Madeleine Hubbard, March 3, 2024

6 “Navigating Ramadan: Fostering Understanding And Support At Work,” Forbes, by Aparna Rae, March 6, 2024

7 “Navigating Ramadan: Fostering Understanding And Support At Work,” Forbes, by Aparna Rae, March 6, 2024

8 “Navigating Ramadan: Fostering Understanding And Support At Work,” Forbes, by Aparna Rae, March 6, 2024

9 “Navigating Ramadan: Fostering Understanding And Support At Work,” Forbes, by Aparna Rae, March 6, 2024

10 “When is Ramadan 2024? What is it? Muslims set to mark a month of spirituality, reflection,” USA TODAY, by Sarah Al-Arshani, 3/8/2024,

About the Author
Penny S. Tee is a vodcaster, speaker, author, and educator. She interviews Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, together forging a better future. Why? Read her book, “BLASTED from COMPLACENCY: A Journey from Terror to Transformation in Israel,” which describes her 2014 family vacation in Israel—daily touring sacred places, and cowering in bomb shelters at night. The missiles blew up her comfortable world—today she devotes her life to Peace.
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