Posts Tagged 'peace'
Category: Issues Volume 15 Number 07
Published on Tuesday, 05 July 2011 17:00
Written by Jews for Jesus
Forbidden Peace: the Story Behind the Headlines
Jews for Jesus
What would make a Palestinian man, who hated Jews with a passion, embrace a former Israeli soldier as his brother? Why would an Israeli woman, whose son was brutally attacked, look at his assailants with forgiveness in her eyes?
How is it possible that in one of the world's most volatile regions, a small group of Israeli and Palestinian children play together, unaware that they should be enemies? The first two of these questions were explored in this edition's lead article. Several similar inquiries are examined in Forbidden Peace: the Story Behind the Headlines, a brand new video and DVD.
Forbidden Peace offers a bold new perspective on the Middle East conflict, one that is sure to raise some eyebrows. The central claim to the documentary-style film is that lack of peace in the Middle East is not a political or social predicament, but a spiritual one. The Israelis and Palestinians profiled in Forbidden Peace all maintain that they have found peace with one another by finding peace with God through Jesus - faith traditionally forbidden to both groups of people.
The opening footage of violent images from the Middle East is effectively juxtaposed with faces and voices full of hope, as the viewer is introduced to Tass, a former PLO Fatah fighter; Rahel, an Israeli who hosts gatherings of Israelis and Palestinians in her home regularly; Shmuel, an Arab man who leads a messianic Jewish congregation,1 just to name a few. Most moving are the segments involving Lisa, whose son Asaf was savagely beaten while serving in the IDF and Abigail, a young believer in Y'shua who was killed by a suicide bomber. Both stories can be seen as tests of faith and one cannot help but be impressed at the way those featured hold fast to their beliefs in the midst of crisis.
From a technical perspective, Forbidden Peace is skillfully filmed and scripted. One can either argue that some of the content is repetitive or conversely, that the stories' similar themes serve to reinforce the position of the film. One thing is for sure: these words and faces will be difficult to dismiss.
There are those who will approach this film with skepticism, and given the numerous peace plans proposed, it's no wonder. However, a companion study guide called Forbidden Peace: an Invitation to Recall, Reflect and Respond allows viewers to delve deeper into the ideas presented in the film.
Broken into six chapters plus introduction and conclusion, the booklet raises such questions as, "What is the origin of conflict?"; "Why do our attempts at peace fail?"; "If Jesus is the Messiah then why isn't there peace on earth?"; and "Is peace through Y'shua worth risking relationships?" The study guide makes for challenging, thought-provoking reading.
The current Middle East situation demands that we consider any possible antidote to the violence that threatens the region. The solution presented in Forbidden Peace is not a quick fix; it's not a national resolution, but a personal conclusion that will take time and courage. But after all, are we not in times that call for courage?
Category: November 1997 Newsletter (5758:3)
Published on Wednesday, 06 July 2011 13:59
Written by Moishe Rosen
In Bible times, those who wanted the higher view, the deeper understanding, the straighter walk with God and the energy to enjoy it followed a spiritual exercise—SACRIFICE!
We no longer need those animal sacrifices because Jesus has atoned for sin. All that we have—from our salvation to sturdy shoe laces—is because God, in His grace, chose to give it through Calvary. In fact, the best theological exposition of grace to me is this simple acronym:
GRACE - God's Riches At Christ's Expense
Even though Christ paid it all" through His atoning sacrifice, you can act to show your love for Him by making a THANKSGIVING SACRIFICE.
A sacrifice is more than giving "something extra." It entails doing without something. You take the cost of what you are giving up, and give it to the Lord.
The ancient sacrifices ranged from a bullock worth several months' labor to a dove worth perhaps two hours of work. The important thing is not what you give, but what you are willing to forgo for your sacrifice.
As a thanksgiving sacrifice, would you like to give a week's pay and deny yourself the joy of what that amount could provide? If not a week, maybe one day? If not a day, maybe an hour? You could even give as much as a month's salary and make that whole month special—knowing you were dedicating each day as a sacrifice to God.
We've provided two response cards. One will enable you to make a sacrifice that Jews for Jesus will put on the altar along with our own efforts, so that many will hear the gospel. Whether your sacrifice is equal to a month, a week, a day, or an hour of your labor, we promise to use it to tell about Y'shua's sacrifice to reconcile to God everyone who will believe and receive Him.
Even if you don't feel led of God to give part or all of your thanksgiving sacrifice to our ministry, we'd still like to have a part in your spiritual exercise. You can send the other card directly to your own church or to any other ministry along with the most generous donation you can give, over and above your regular giving. (Please do not ask us to forward gifts.) By using this second card, you keep the idea of sacrificial giving alive!
Jesus was not joking when He said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). God will use whatever you're able to give to bless the recipients greatly. Yet that blessing pales in comparison to how He will bless you for sacrificing.
We can't promise you that if you give a lot, God will shower you with money in return. He has other ways of blessing—perhaps through your friends, your children, or more opportunities to minister. However He does it, we guarantee that He will always give you a bountiful, beautiful, multiplied blessing in return for your sacrifice.
Don't you love Him? Don't you believe Him? Don't you trust His Word? Then make a sacrifice!
If you can make a sacrificial gift at this time, I hope you'll consider sending it—or perhaps part of it—to Jews for Jesus. Perhaps you feel especially thankful to God for the way He's used the Jewish people to bring the Scriptures and the Messiah into the world. Whatever you send us will be money multiplied to help more Jews know their Messiah personally!
As we come to the end of 1997, we're facing a large deficit. This year our evangelistic enterprises were far more extensive—and expensive—than we anticipated. Our efforts cost us more energy and some heartache, but praise God, we've seen many Jews and Gentiles—hundreds and thousands—come to faith in Christ.
Yet unless some of our friends are willing to make sacrificial gifts, our executive director faces the tough duty of cutting back on our outreach programs. That would mean cutting our staff, handing out fewer gospel tracts, or placing fewer of our gospel advertisements in newspapers and magazines for our Advent outreach.
So if you were ever looking for a very good time to give a very sacrificial gift to God, this is a providential time. To designate that gift, or part of it, for the ministry of Jews for Jesus, please use the larger response card with the fold-over flap. It's perforated so you can keep one half to record the blessing and return the other half to us with your sacrificial gift. Please pray about it. Whatever you do, may it be with great thanksgiving to God, from whom all blessings flow!
Category: Issues Volume 15 Number 07
Published on Wednesday, 06 July 2011 12:24
Written by Susan Perlman
Everyone is for peace. No one is against it. Yet, how do we assess whether or not peace is possible in our day? Perhaps we can begin by asking ourselves, What is that very elusive quality we call peace?"
To terrorists or tyrants, getting peace means eliminating those who stand in their way—but what they really want is complete control.
To followers of Eastern religions, peace comes from being one with the universe and having no awareness of self—but what they really mean is serenity.
The person who is trying to sleep while a loud party is going on next door also says he wants peace—but he really means quiet.
Peace of mind is what a person is hoping for while waiting to get the results back from a suspicious biopsy—but what she or he really hopes for is good health.
When we don't have what we think we should have, when we don't feel the way we think we should feel, we say we need peace! We often define peace as that condition of life that we think ought to exist. But in all of the turmoil of life, who really has the right or capacity to determine what should or shouldn't be?
Where can we look for a peace that is right for everyone?
Webster defines peace as (1) a state of tranquility, (2) freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions, (3) harmony in personal relations and (4) a state or period of mutual accord between governments.
These definitions can be broken down into two major themes: the cessation of hostilities, and peace of mind. The English word "peace" came from the Latin pax. To Romans, pax meant the cessation of hostilities between the conqueror and the vanquished. This was always a temporary peace as it was interrupted by changes in the balance of power.
The Hebrew concept of peace is rooted in "shalom," which connotes wholeness, completeness, soundness, safety, health and prosperity. More than that, peace is experienced when that wholeness or health is expressed in our standing with the God of Israel.
Rabbi Robert I. Kahn of Houston, Texas distinguishes between "Roman" peace and "Hebrew" shalom:
- One can dictate a peace; shalom is a mutual agreement.
- Peace is a temporary pact; shalom is a permanent agreement.
- One can make a peace treaty; shalom is the condition of peace.
- Peace can be negative, the absence of commotion; Shalom is positive, the presence of serenity.
- Peace can be partial; shalom is whole.
- Peace can be piecemeal; shalom is complete.
The mystical writings of the Zohar teach that God is peace, his name is peace, and all is bound together in peace (Zohar, Lev. 10b). In post-Talmudic Jewish thought, Isaac Arama paraphrased this idea by saying:
Peace is a positive thing, the essential means by which men of differing temperaments and opinions can work together for the common good. Pearls of individual virtue would be dim in isolation were it not for the string of peace that binds them together and so increases their luster. That is why peace is a name of God for it is He who gives unity to the whole of creation.1
The criteria for shalom, true peace, then, rest with God. This definition of peace must begin with the assumption that there is a Creator and that he has established a standard for us. From there must come an acceptance (at least for the understanding of this article) of the way in which God has chosen to reveal himself to man—through the Bible.
The first example of peace in the Bible is the condition that existed in the beginning in Eden. There is good reason to believe the Genesis account of creation; but even if you don't believe it literally, the message still demonstrates a lesson of peace.
Adam and Eve were at peace with God, with the creation and with each other. All their needs were supplied. There was no disease or discomfort. They were surrounded by beauty. They weren't lonely because they had each other. More importantly, they had an intimate relationship with the One who created them. If any people ever experienced peace, it was Adam and Eve. But peace, even in the Garden of Eden, was conditional. It was Adam and Eve's only as long as they remained obedient to their Creator.
The first man and woman lost their shalom because of disobedience. Similarly, the Jewish people were promised peace through obedience to the Torah. God told our people that our relative peace in the promised land was directly related to our obedience to him. In Deuteronomy 28, God promises that blessing will come with obedience. The description of God's blessings in this chapter cover every area of life imaginable. In response to our obedience, God promises wholeness in the family, wholeness in the environment, wholeness in relationship to the surrounding nations. The promised land bore the promise of being another Garden of Eden, a land truly flowing with milk and honey. Yet the same passage that promises blessing and peace for obedience declares a curse, violence and strife for disobedience. There would be environmental crisis; drought would plague the land. Strife would occur in the family. Violence would be a characteristic of society. The very safety and security of living in the land would be jeopardized by our disobedience to God. The fruit of disobedience is no peace. Can it be that after these many centuries we still have yet to learn this most basic lesson from the Torah? We are unable to obey God. We are unable to achieve peace through our own efforts.
The blessing of the Holy One is peace.
-Talmud Megilla, 18a
We spend millions of dollars and an endless amount of effort to negotiate peace among people and nations, as though peace could be achieved through social, political or economic solutions. Yet racial and religious strife has never been more prevalent than it is today. Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Chechnya, Rwanda, Liberia, Bosnia and a host of other places are hotbeds of warring. Even Jerusalem (the name means City of Peace) is a place where acts of terrorism abound.
So should we just pack it in?
Absolutely not. There really is reason to hope. There is a peace that transcends the situations and flaws of our own personal lives because it doesn't come from our efforts. The peace that we long for is not based on political compromises—it is based on God's truth. You see, the only real peace, the shalom that is permanent, comes from God.
The Jewish sages taught that when the Messiah comes, there will be peace in the world. They taught that the Messiah is God's solution for peace. The phrase "when the Messiah comes" is a synonym for "when peace comes." The long-held hope for peace would be fulfilled in a person.
Two thousand years ago, a Jewish carpenter we know as Jesus—Y'shua—claimed to be that Messiah. He claimed to be the bearer of peace. And the prophet Isaiah wrote about him:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6, 7
How was the Messiah to bring peace? A permanent end to all warfare is found in a relationship with the One who bridged the chasm between us and God—Y'shua. He said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be dismayed" (John 14:27). It is a different kind of peace that Y'shua offers us. It is a peace not based on outward circumstances but on the reality of a restored relationship with the God of Israel. God himself became one of us because he chose to demonstrate his love as the way of peace. Isaiah explained this in a prophecy hundreds of years before Y'shua walked the earth:
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4, 5
We can have peace, but for Adam and Eve and all who have come after, peace has come with a high price. It was Y'shua's punishment that brought us peace. The peace he offers us is a permanent peace, but it is also conditional. It depends on our welcoming and following the One who paid that price—the Prince of Peace, Y'shua. There is hope for peace. How much do you really want it?
Category: Issues Volume 06 Number 04
Published on Tuesday, 05 July 2011 17:00
Written by Ilan Zamir
The policeman gaped at me, unable to suppress his astonishment. "Man, that's dangerous what you want to do. You can get into serious trouble. You're an Israeli Jew and these people you want to meet are Arabs on the West Bank.…"
I knew he meant well; he was a fellow Jew who wanted me to avoid a potentially explosive encounter with "the other side."
"Still, I feel I have to talk with them," I persisted, though my voice did shake a bit.
"The boy is already dead." He was doing his best to dissuade me. "How will it help for you to express your regrets now?"
He had a point. Obviously, expressing regret for the tragedy would not raise the dead. There I was, an Israeli Jew trying to contact an Arab family living under Israeli occupation. Further, I was coming to them as the driver of the car which had struck their boy in a fatal road accident. The accident wasn't my fault. I would have my day in court (and in fact was found innocent), but I felt the situation called for more than a dry and impersonal legal action.
"There are spiritual values I must deal with," I tried to explain to the policeman. He nodded, not in agreement, but in resignation, as if to say it was beyond his grasp why I should want to visit the family of the dead boy in their Arab village outside Jerusalem.
I told a friend of mine in Jerusalem about my desire to meet with the Arab family, and mentioned the policeman's warning about the risk involved. The concept of "avenger of the blood" from Bible times flashed in my memory with ominous portent:
…anyone who slays any person without intent…shall flee to the city of refuge…lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer…(Numbers 35; Deuteronomy 19)
Would I be considered a manslayer whose blood had to be shed by a family avenger? I recalled stories I'd read of unfortunate Muslims who were murdered by members of their own family. The victims had deviated from their tribal code and thus had "stained the family honor." Would "honor" demand that my life be considered forfeit by the family of the dead boy? It would not be honest to say such thoughts never entered my mind. Yet there were other, more pressing thoughts.
I told my friend how again and again I relived the horrible memory of that dark dreadful night and my drive through El-Azariya. I was headed home to Jerusalem. I saw the figure darting out in front of my car, heard the screeching of my brakes, and the frantic honking of my horn. Within a fraction of a second, there was the sickening, dull thud of impact and the shrieks of pain from the boy who never heard the warning of the horn. He could not hear it, as I later learned, because he was deaf. Next came the nightmarish wailing of the police sirens and ambulance. Then came the days of waiting and hoping…and finally, the cruel news: the boy had died. He was only 13 years old.
My friend listened to my story without much comment. When I was through he said quietly, "Lord, I know an Arab believer in Y'shua, Pastor Suhail Ramadan. He is familiar with many different communities and customs in Israel. Let's consult with him."
Mediators and Interpreters
I had heard of this pastor. He was a respected leader of a congregation in Galilee as well as a chaplain to Arab prisoners in Israel. When my friend explained the situation, Pastor Ramadan immediately offered his help. Our goal was to arrange a "sulha," a reconciliation meeting with the Arab Muslim family of the deceased. An Arab believer who lived in the same village as the bereaved family would help make the arrangements. We also contacted an English woman, a journalist, who had connections with the village. through her we met Abu Musa, a building contractor who had served in the British Army during the Second World War. He agreed to mediate and interpret in arranging the reconciliation. He also recruited his uncle, who was a mukhtar (respected leader) in the community. The uncle was a retired pious Muslim who had made the hadj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.
It was about a month after the accident that we met in the house of one of Abu Musa's sons for an "exploratory" meeting. I was nervous and irritable as my friend drove me to the meeting.…
I thought of the gap between my background as a "sabra" (one who had grown up in a secular Israeli atmosphere) and that of the Arabs we were to meet. At the same time, I realized that in many ways, my life was as different from my fellow sabras as it was from the Arab Muslims I was about to meet…for I was a Israeli Jew who believed in Y'shua (Jesus).
My faith in Y'shua has sometimes led to hard feelings and occasional hostility, but when it comes to the issue of Y'shua as Messiah, I can understand and know how to handle it. On the other hand, with the Arab Muslims I was exposing myself to a possible collision with a culture which was not only alien to me, but one which viewed me as a hostile foreign invader. I began to imagine graphically chilling versions of the upcoming encounter. "Maybe the Jewish policeman was right," I allowed myself to think. "Maybe I'm taking too much of a risk." Yet I could not allow these fears to guide me. Principles, not fear, were behind my desire for the sulha. I had to hold tightly to those principles, and trust God to see me through.
A Preliminary Meeting
When we arrived at the village, Abu Musa was waiting outside his son's house. He invited us into a spacious living room, where I immediately noticed his uncle, the mukhtar. He was dressed in traditional Arab attire, an impressive Oriental figure with lively blue eyes. He greeted us warmly.
"Marhaba (Welcome)." I spoke the traditional Arabic greeting.
"Marhabteen (Your are twice welcome)," he replied.
The old mukhtar understood English but preferred to speak in Arabic, with his nephew acting as translator. Abu Musa had explained many details of the situation to him before we arrived.
"What kind of work does the young man do?" the uncle asked, pointing in my direction.
"You can classify me as a student," I replied.
The mukhtar shook his head slightly, though for a moment, then asked, "And how much does he think he can offer the bereavved family?" Almost immediately he added with a slight smile," Of course the family may refuse any offer of money." His voice was deep and resonant, but also earnest and not threatening. His nephew Abu Musa explained, "Sometimes it is customary to press a few bills into the hands of the mother of the family towards the end of the sulha."
"Would 200 dollars be enough?" I asked.
My friend, who was closely following the conversation, interjected, choosing his words very carefully, "It may be that there are expenses for the good services of arranging the sulha?" The uncle and Abu Musa understood the suggestion, and though not offended, they forcefully rejected the offer.
"No! No!" The mukhtar emphasized. "My work is to make peace between people; the only payment I ask is peace, nothing more." Our hosts passed around fruit and water on a beautifully decorated tray while Abu Musa explained that his uncle would make contact with the bereaved family, ascertain the terms of the sulha, the amount of money required, the meeting time and the names of the persons who would be present. If everything was agreed upon, another meeting would be held before the actual sulha with the family.
An "Astonishing" Revelation
"My uncle esteems you very highly," Abu Musa remarked to me in English. "You are not a part of the village, nor even an Arab, and you are asking to arrange a sulha with a family you don't even know."
"I think that's the minimum I can do," I replied sadly.
"Nevertheless, he would like assurances that you won't back down at a later stage, because that would cause him to lose face very badly," he explained.
"Tell him I won't back down, for me this is a matter of faith," I answered at once.
My friend added, "We believe in the Holy Scriptures…in the Torah and in the Injil (the Gospels).
The old man raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Are you not Jews? Yet you believe in the Injil?" There was a touch of astonishment in his voice.
My friend answered, "Yes, certainly we are Jews. We believe in the Hebrew Scriptures and also in the New Covenant, and there it is written, 'Let your yea be yea, and your nay be nay." If Ilan has said he will not back down, then Inshalla (God willing) so it shall be."
The old man chuckled in undisguised mirth, and then with an air of solemn authority remarked, "Well, then, all you two need now is to believe in the Holy Koran, and you will be good Muslims, for we too believe in the Torah and in the Injil."
We smiled politely, embarrassed by the proposal. Suddenly the old man turned to my friend and asked, "Tell me, do you believe in the Trinity?"
"We believe that God was revealed in Y'shua the Messiah," he replied.
"Oh, then you believe in three gods!" came the old uncle's rejoinder. His triumphant tone suggested he felt he had beaten us at a game of theology.
"No, absolutely not," my friend countered. "We believe in the one true God who is revealed in three persons."
The old man smiled politely without uttering a word. His smile seemed to say, "That is not my opinion, but not is not the time to debate theology."
Just then our hosts brought in a tray of hot coffee in delicate little white cups. The coffee was black and heavily sweetened, and we understood it was a signal that the meeting was drawing to a close. We drank, rose from our seats, shook hands all around, and agreed to continue our contact with Abu Musa.
A report on the preliminary meeting was passed onto Pastor Ramadan in Galilee. He put us in touch with Munir Kakish, a pastor from Ramallah, an Arab town not far from Jerusalem. Pastor Kakish had spent a number of years in the West, so he was familiar with both Eastern and Western cultures.
"It would be better if there were a stronger representation of believers in the Messiah at the sulha," he observed. "It isn't good for one side to be over-represented." I smiled as I thought of the balance of forces among the different communities in our region. It plays a crucial and unsettling part in the Middle Eastern affairs. "It is also important that everything be completely understood by the mukhtar, the old man who is mediating, before the meeting with the family," he added.
"What about the amount of money as a gift?" I asked.
"I'll tell you, my family originated in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. There the custom is to offer a gift at the sulha, which the family formally rejects in the name of the Prophet and in the name of the king. If that is the way things work here, I'm not altogether sure. We must take into consideration the fact that you are not Arabs, and you have no ties to the village. In any case, it would be best to bring along money in case it is needed."
After a few phone calls, it was arranged to meet once more with the mukhtar at his son's home. Immediately afterwards, we would move on to the home of the bereaved family.
We left Jerusalem early in the afternoon, and reached the meeting place by three o'clock. It was a pleasant spring day, and the sun shone down on the old houses and narrow lanes of the village. We entered the house, and I saw the Ramallah pastor for the first time. He was young, balding, somewhat heavy, with a congenial manner. He welcomed us warmly in fluent English, while the old mukhtar rose to meet us, extending his hand in friendship. Our hosts brought out the traditional tray of fruit, this time accompanied by delicate cups of hot sweetened black coffee. The room was buzzing with Arabic conversation, with bits of translation from time to time by the Ramallah pastor.
"The family is willing to receive you and to forgive you; neither are they asking for any financial compensation. They will be satisfied with what they receive from the insurance company," he informed us.
"Still, I've brought money along, and I'm prepared to pay them" I assured him.
"No," the old man responded with emphasis, "it is not necessary." Then he arose from his seat, signaling us that we were to move on. We proceeded to the home of the bereaved family, who lived only a few yards away from the scene of the accident. As we drove up, a sudden wave of sorrow overcame me once again.
"Oh God," I prayed, "if only I could wipe out that tragic moment. Help me to endure this difficult testing." I thought of the verse: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
As we approached the large two-story, Arab-style home, the dead boy's father strode out to meet us. He greeted us, and cast a quick, gloomy glance at me. Then, with a swift sweep of his hand, he invited us to enter. I looked sideways at him as we moved along. He was a young, mustached dark-haired man. He walked with short brisk steps and spoke in a tense, high-pitched voice. My heart ached at the thought of his sorrow as we entered the large salon. The room was lined with sofas and chairs in a kind of circle against the brightly colored walls which were hung with beautiful Oriental tapestries We sat down and waited while the mukhtar and others engaged in animated conversation in Arabic. The pastor from Ramallah translated here and there for my friend and me.
An old grandfather quietly entered the room. He was dressed in traditional garb, his face was wrinkled and his body wizened. He told us a story of reconciliation which had happened 40 years ago. He had witnessed an accident in which a boy, a relative of the family, had been run over and killed by a driver from Hebron. When he realized the boy was dead, he covered the body and urged the driver to flee from the scene before other members of the family arrived. They would have lynched him on the spot. Later, the grandfather arranged for a sulha. The Hebronite offered money to the family, but they refused payment and forgave him.
Other members of the family entered the room: the old granny who had witnessed the accident, and a brother-in-law, a young man who spoke fluent Hebrew. From time to time, the father of the boy would enter and leave, tightlipped and seeming to scowl.
"It is still difficult for him to keep from weeping at the memory of his son. He does not want to weep in our presence," the brother-in-law explained in Hebrew.
Finally the father of the boy sat down and cups of black sweetened coffee were passed around on a tray. We all rose, and Pastor Kakish began to translate into English the conclusion of the sulha.
"Know that the family does not desire any money, but they receive this tragedy as from the hand of God, and they forgive you for your part in the affair. From now on they see you as a member of the family."
The cups of coffee remained on the table, untouched. According to tradition, the father would be the first to taste from the cup as a sign that he accepted the reconciliation gesture, and had indeed agreed to forgive. The tension in his face had cast a shadow on the proceedings until then, but at that point, he suddenly began to smile. The lines of grief softened. He looked at me squarely and his smile broadened as he moved towards me, opening his arms in a gesture of embrace. As we met and embraced, he kissed me ceremonially three times on the cheeks. Everyone began to shake hands with one another as the father sipped coffee. The whole atmosphere was transformed, the tension at an end.
An Adopted Son
I was overwhelmed by a desire to speak, so I turned to the Hebrew-speaking brother-in-law and asked him to translate for me.
"I want you to understand how much I am in sorrow about this accident," I began, "and how much I appreciate your readiness to forgive and to receive me."
They all began to shake their heads and mumble in Arabic. "They are saying there is no need to apologize now; they forgive you, and you can forget about the matter," I was told.
I thanked them as I sensed the sulha was drawing to a close. Suddenly, the brother-in-law turned to me. His voice was full of pathos, and I was reminded of the chanting of a cantor in the synagogue as he addressed me in Hebrew sing-song.
"Know, O my brother, that you are in place of this son who has died. You have a family and a home somewhere else, but know that here is your second home. Whenever you wish to come, at whichever hour you wish to come, this is your home."
"Peace be unto you!"
I shook his hand fervently. "Thank you, thank you so much. I will truly come."
I gulped down the remainder of my coffee and placed it back on the tray which was set on the table. I turned to the mukhtar who was still seated on the sofa, his eyes glowing. "You are a righteous man," I said in English. "Thank you so much for your help." He smiled at me a paternal smile, and thanked his nephew Abu Musa and all the others for their cooperation.
"Ma salaami (Peace be unto you)," we said to one another as we parted.
In the west the sun was beginning to set as I turned my face towards Jerusalem.
How certain Jews and Arabs have learned to love each other.