BLOG from the Holy Land #1 – Sept. 8th, 2016

David and Anna Less, and Ghassan Manasra, are traveling through Israel and Palestine meeting with all the Abrahamic Reunion peacemakers and coordinators. We will be posting blog entries from their travels and meetings.

Yesterday we had the privilege to visit with the elder statesman of the peace movement in Israel. Elias Jabbour is a seventh generation practitioner of “sulha”, the traditional peacemaking formula of the Middle East. He is in his eighties and has been a friend and advisor for the last sixteen years. Elias is a Melkite Christian Arab with a deep love for humanity and a keen insight into the problems of the day in Israel and Palestine. He does not blame or accuse, does not speak negatively or allow any personal suffering to color his views.

As we ate a delicious lunch prepared by his elegant wife Hayam, he began to expound on the need of the day. As I write this it sounds so banal but the experience of hearing his words was both deeply moving and a reminder as to the purpose of our work. He said the obvious in a manner that caused it to go deeper than the mind. What is lacking in Israel and the world is love. Our work is primarily creating arenas where the love inherent in every human being can be rekindled and emerge with its natural power. Love, he said, is more powerful than the atomic bomb. It is the most powerful and valuable of our natural resources.

Then he spoke on the two fundamental principles of a peacemaker. Firstly, a peacemaker must never get angry. Anger clouds the natural wisdom and compassion in a human being. In anger we lose the clear inspiration that is the key to making peace. Secondly, the peacemaker must never give up.  He shared the story of a village feud that took thirty years to be settled and it was settled due to the perseverance of the peacemaker. We must never give up hope.

The lessons seem so simple and yet how many days do we live where nothing angers us? Can we, like Elias, control our thoughts and speech to remove negativity in the midst of a situation that so entices the negative? Can we truly not give up but plod ahead through the mud of doubt, fear, exhaustion and trauma around us and find the primal ground of inner and outer peace and share that with our fellow human family? These are the challenges we must confront and overcome. This is not an easy discipline. Peace is precious and cannot come without the discipline and the desire to make it a reality.

Today the peacemaker must be both an individual and part of a greater whole. We need each other to create the vision and model of a peaceful society. Our work is often lonely when we forget this but so healing when we are part of a team making peace. I am grateful for the support, love and prayers I feel from so many around the world at this time. I’m deeply thankful for this and feel I represent so many in my journey here.

Shahabuddin BLOG
With love and blessings from the Holy Land,

David Less