Blog #8 from David Less: Beyond Blame & Scorn

Yesterday there was more violence in Israel and Palestine. The story goes on, and the pain and confusion seem to create numbness rather than awareness. A segment of the Palestinian population campaigns against “normalization” of relationships with the government of Israel. It seems from my perspective, that the acceptance of violence and enmity has become the norm. Blame and scorn on all sides have created an artificial reality that is accepted as if that is what life really is. This must be changed. As I am writing this an alarm on someone’s phone is vainly trying to awaken them. The metaphor to life here is too obvious. Religion and religious leaders still have some influence here. The people we are privileged to know and work with here are part of the awakening. In their quiet way they are working with the young future leaders and citizens. Daily I realize that we have been so blessed to know and befriend these local heroes who have grown beyond blame and internal dogma.

Rev. Daniel Aqleh is an evangelical Palestinian minister living in Bethlehem. He is a champion of human rights for all peoples of this area. His passion is infectious and his evangelical coloring is apparent when he speaks of peace for all and an opportunity for connection with God for all. In his master’s thesis he proposed a program of working with young people in small groups populated by other young people of the same faith and culture and after some training sessions in true dialogue bringing the groups together. It seems such an obvious formula but it is not being done as far as we see. We are trying now to get funding for this program and hope to begin starting pilot groups in February and eventually starting groups all over Israel and Palestine. Daniel is the Abrahamic Reunion’s coordinator in Palestine.

We had a lovely lunch and meeting with Father Russ McDougall, the Catholic priest who is the rector of the Tantur Ecumenical center in Jerusalem. This place has hosted the AR for many of our interfaith events and has been a place of healing and comfort for us as we continue with our work here. Fr. Russ’s support, guidance and insight into the ecumenical workings in Jerusalem have been deeply helpful but his light filled heart is the great gift for us all.

Please keep us in your prayers and send good thoughts. The work here can be heavy and we really feel the support of so many people who are not physically with us. We are truly grateful and feel so fortunate to be able to do this work.