Our next stop was with Elias Jabbour of the House of Hope Peace Center in Shefa-'Amr (or Shfar'am; see http://www.middleeastproject.org/house-of-hope-international-pe/).
We enjoyed warm Palestinian hospitality in their home which also serves as the Center, where we shared a meal together and talked about peacemaking.
Elias is 75 years old, and was 13 when the state of Israel was founded and life changed for his family. He founded the House of Hope in 1978, and pursues opportunities to work for peace in relations between Christians, Muslims, Jews, Druze, and all who visit. (He has written a book, Sulha, which relates the traditional Palestinian approach to making peace between people in conflict.)
He made several noteworthy statements, based on his experience. I relate them, not because they are unique to Elias, but because they are the kind of statements we heard over and over again from a variety of people that we met with, in what adds up - for me - to a chorus of voices bearing witness to how we need to live, how we need to be, if we are going to discover how to live together peacefully in the world.
Some of his statements:
* "Try peace - you can always go back to war. Who knows, you might actually like peace..."
* For peace, we need to learn to enjoy our differences (rather than letting them divide us).
* The problem is, we don't know each other; and as the Arab proverb says, "we are afraid of what we do not know." We need to get to know each other, build relationship. We need to come together, and to listen to each other's narratives.
* To be a peacemaker, you cannot take sides.
* Sharing a meal is making peace.
Our trip was an experience (or a series of experiences) in the process of peacemaking. As a group of outsiders to the area, we had the opportunity of entering into the lives of people we did not know (Muslim, Christian, and Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian), sharing meals with them, listening to their narratives, and beginning to build relationship and gain understanding of different perspectives. Small things, in a way, but potentially powerful steps toward peace.