January 2, 2013
Vol: 20 No: 1

Rev. Rich Lang

Refusing to choose sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict

By Rev. Rich Lang

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Most of us are just normal human beings. But every once in a while we get an opportunity to be in the presence of a great soul whose commonplace demeanor shines a bright light that illumines the goodness of life itself. When we have those opportunities we come away profoundly blessed, full of renewed animation and energy.

Archbishop Elias Chacour is one of those great souls. He will be at University Temple United Methodist Church, 1415 43rd St. NE, Sunday, Jan. 13. He’ll participate in a free-ranging conversation at 9 a.m., and then preach during worship at 10:30 a.m.

This will be a spiritual opportunity to interact with someone who has developed courage and wisdom, one who has found a path transcending the sufferings and anguish of life.

Indeed he embodies the words of my friend Bill Grace, who says, “Our times are too desperate for anything but the truth. The world is too small for anything but love. The work of our time is too hard for anything but hope.”

Chacour is one of the few remaining Christians still living in the holy land of Palestine/Israel. Most Christians have been driven out as victims of both Israeli and Arab suspicion. But Chacour remains and works relentlessly for nonviolent reconciliation among Christians, Israelis, Arabs, Muslims and the Druze. He has successfully modeled this reconciliation through building schools of integration, hoping that over time the past wounds will heal through the emergence of compassionate relationships of solidarity.

Chacour is the author of two best-selling books, “Blood Brothers” and “We Belong to the Land,” which document the plight of Christians in the turmoil of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is currently the Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of the Galilee region and has been the recipient of the World Methodist Peace Award and the Niwano Peace Prize, as well as been nominated several times for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Chacour once said, “You who live in the United States, if you are pro-Israel, on behalf of the Palestinian children I call unto you: give further friendship to Israel. They need your friendship. But stop interpreting that friendship as an automatic antipathy against me, the Palestinian who is paying the bill for what others have done against my beloved Jewish brothers and sisters in the Holocaust and Auschwitz and elsewhere.

“And if you have been enlightened enough to take the side of the Palestinians — oh, bless your hearts — take our sides, because for once you will be on the right side, right? But if taking our side would mean to become one-sided against my Jewish brothers and sisters, back up. We do not need such friendship. We need one more common friend. We do not need one more enemy, for God’s sake.”

All are welcome to hear this great soul and advocate for a peaceful resolution of the “Arab-Israeli” conflict.

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