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Giving Purposefully, Overcoming Joyfully

This is the season in which we give gifts to our family and friends! We love to show our generosity and express kindness to others. In our culture, giving gifts is something we do all the time. Recently, following the renovation of our home, some friends wanted to come over. They were Palestinian and they told us that they would only come to visit on condition that they could bring us housewarming gifts. The desire and obligation to give is part of our culture.

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Young Adult Poetry Slam, the Impact of Storytelling

We arrived early Friday morning to join the group of the 14 Israeli and Palestinian young adults for a time to reunite for a Poetry slam. This was a group who had participated in an exchange program with British young adults at the end of the summer.

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A Prophetic Vision for Reconciliation amidst new Nation-State Law

Much has been written on the impact of the Jewish Nation-State law, passed by the Knesset only a few weeks ago. By defining the state of Israel as the “national home” of the Jewish people, the law declares that the right of self-determination within the State of Israel is exclusive to Jews only. Most popular criticism of the law has correctly stated that it compromises peace, democracy and equal rights for all Israeli citizens, and it has demoralized the non-Jewish segment of Israeli society. In particular, it has diminished legitimacy of the Palestinian people. The aim of this article, however, is to address how this law affects Christians in The Land alongside those of us working in reconciliation.

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Summer Camp: Little Feet Finding Higher Roads

During a blazing hot week beneath the Middle Eastern sun, we took a group of 75 kids on a journey “back to Egypt.” This was the theme for the first of our two summer camps that took place in Bethlehem and included Muslim and Christian children from the city and its surrounding villages.

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Inspiring Hope for the Future

Last weekend, 45 women – Palestinian and Israeli, Arab and Jewish, Arabic and Hebrew speaking – gathered together in Nazareth to share stories, listen to one another, and to dream. These are women of different nations, races, and languages all united in their love for Jesus Christ and their burning desire for peace. The simple act of these women from the different sides gathering together in unity and love, is a tangible picture of peace.

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Swords in our Garden: Yom haZikaron Alternative Memorial Review

“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord (Isaiah 2:4-5, NIV).”

Too often, prophetic strategies are tamed into romantic ideals, effectively absolving us of responsibility. Too often, rather than implementing Isaiah 2 into our surrounding reality, we reduce it to comforting platitudes, or—ironically—weaponise it in reference to those we deem uncooperative.

This was not so the night of April 17th, where over 7,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv for a joint memorial ceremony and inclusive alternative to the national holiday Yom haZikaron. It was the 13th annual event of its nature, inviting bereaved Palestinians and Israelis to commemorate their losses side by side.

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Applying Musalaha’s Model in the UK

A friend of mine, Rev. Phil Rawlings recently sent me his thesis, Beyond Dialogue – An Exploration of the Musalaha: Curriculum of Reconciliation model of interfaith dialogue with relevance for the UK context. Phil is the Director of the Manchester Centre for the Study of Christianity and Islam at the Nazarene Theological College in Manchester, UK. He will be receiving his doctorate this fall for this work.

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Lines to Cross: Youth, Identity, and Reconciliation

A patchwork of mismatched, ambitious youth step off the bus into an enclosed garden in Ness Ammim, Israel. We have twenty-seven hours to cross a line that no one names, but everyone can immediately feel.

It is a time and space just for 33 Israeli and Palestinian young people. It is not a group of people meeting for the first time, but instead, teenagers who have known each other from childhood through their participation in Musalaha’s Children’s Summer Camps. Musalaha’s reconciliation training on identity is not for the faint of heart. It is challenging, emotional, and comprehensive.

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Following the Star: Discerning God’s Will in the midst of Political Turmoil

Last Sunday our preacher reflected on passages from Matthew 2, which tells the story of the Magi from the east. It is interesting that this record appears in the Gospel of Matthew since scholars see this book written for a Jewish audience.

Matthew 2:1-12 deliberately presents us with a specific narrative about wise men who were learned scholars and searching for a sign. Their study confirmed this sign was a star, telling them that the “King of the Jews (Matt 2:2)” was born.

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Building Bridges Even When it is Hard: School Principals Respond to Trump’s Declaration

Two months ago, Musalaha was asked to conduct a reconciliation seminar for Palestinian and Israeli school principals in Jerusalem. Since Jerusalem is undoubtedly a center for tension between these two communities and young people are increasingly taking part in the conflict, initiatives to build bridges, first between them and later among their students, have potential for great impact. This group of principals came to a deadlock in their ability to progress, so we were asked to come and present our model to help them move forward. To our great delight, the group was very excited to learn about our model and the six stages of reconciliation.

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Moral implications of political decisions

November 2nd marked 100 years since the public announcement of the Balfour Declaration, which stated the British government’s support for a national homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. To this day there is quite a bit of controversy as to why Britain or Lord Balfour made this declaration. Religious motives? Colonial or empirical considerations or even a means to draw the US into the war? Whatever the reason, it can’t be denied that its effect has consequences to this day. While Israelis celebrate the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, Palestinian remember it as a day of broken promises and betrayal.

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Sukkot & Reconciliation

From the beginning of Rosh HaShana until the last day of Sukkot, all you hear in Israel is “Acharei HaHagim” (After the Holidays). Whenever we try to move forward at work or get something done in the banks, we’re told “Acharei haHagim.” The same tends to be true when it comes to the difficult work of reconciliation; but how much longer can we afford to put it off? There is too much at stake to continue avoiding these issues. Today it is the last day of Sukkot – It’s Acharei haHagim. Let’s get to work.

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Building Bridges Across Palestinian Communities

By making cross-community encounters possible, Musalaha strives to provide a safe space for Christians and Muslims to get to know each other and talk about the issues that divide us. We find that these divisions are often based on misunderstandings and false perceptions. By reaching out to their own people with a testimony of their personal experience, our young leaders become key figures in spreading the positive message of community building and peacemaking.

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The Faithful

Working for reconciliation is extremely challenging. In general there are not thousands of Palestinians and Israelis rushing to participate or engage with the other side. But there will always be a few who are willing to take on the challenge seriously and engage with the other side. The faithful few shine a small but vital light in the midst of hopelessness and despair, a light that shines on a new path of peace, reconciliation and hope.

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Learning to Love Their Neighbors

In times like this, it takes a conscious effort not to give in to frustration and depression even for adamant peace optimists. I took comfort in my daughter’s shared experiences and allowed my heart to fill with hope as camps like this allow Israeli and Palestinian children from different backgrounds to connect and see their neighbor in a new light, or even for the first time at all. Let us be encouraged and continue to invest in a new generation of peacemakers.

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Lessons from Northern Ireland

Two years ago a group of Musalaha’s Young Adults travelled to Ireland for a reconciliation encounter and to learn from from the conflict in Ireland. During their trip, Board Member Lisa Loden, who was leading the trip, and a few others were invited one evening to join the Bangor Missionary Convention taking place at the same time.

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Musalaha Camp Draws Parents

Musalaha camps are open to all children, from any ethnic and religious background. As we have increased the number of camps that we host we have received a greater diversity in the demographic makeup of both the campers and the leaders. This has been an exciting development and we are grateful for this opportunity to bring a wider range of children together to meet one another. Musalaha’s camps are also becoming known in new cities and villages, with various groups and organizations inviting us to their communities. Due to this demand, this year we decided to host two weeks of camp in Bethlehem instead of one.

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Budding from Brokenness

Yes, there are catastrophic traumas that can kill a person. However, there is always hope. There is always a possibility for growth. We will not forget our traumas, but there can be a beauty that comes after an intense pain– and together, as a community, we help each other grow and heal.

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