Usually in the Christmas updates, I detail all of the activities that had happened in the year, but this Christmas update is going to be a bit different. This is due to two main reasons: Musalaha is celebrating 30 years of reconciliation work in Palestine/Israel and this year is particularly different with the Coronavirus. While the year was indeed a success in terms of adapting to the pandemic affectively and managing to carry out most of our activities, there is much to say about 30 years of work.
Firstly, 30 years is no small number for any organization to be active, let alone in Palestine/Israel. We have faced numerous challenges and adversities including various different political administrations, wars, an Intifada, global economic crisis and now a pandemic! Despite all of this, Musalaha has learned to adapt itself to some of the most complicated circumstances in Palestine/Israel. This was of course no easy task as Musalaha had to reinvent itself a number of times. Reconciliation was always our message and calling, but its communication and implementation had to always translate to the reality on the ground. Sadly to say, we witnessed over 30 years many peace-building, reconciliation and dialogue groups dissolve. We are truly thankful for God’s provision and guidance through the various storms.
Secondly, we have impacted the lives of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis throughout our work. Moreover, our vision of reconciliation has also expanded to other individuals and communities around us. In its very early establishment, Musalaha focused on Palestinians and Israelis followers of Jesus, and it remained the case for a number of years. However in recent years, we have expanded the vision and work to other segments of society. This is partially due to the case that Muslims, Jews, and secular individuals have approached us and wanted to participate in our programs and learn about our curriculum of reconciliation.
This expansion has not been confined to our local context in Palestine/Israel, but people from all over the world have engaged with us for the purpose of learning how we conduct reconciliation encounters and the important six stages of reconciliation in our curriculum. We can now say that our methods have helped reconciliation work in more than 10 countries and received academic attention. We are truly thankful for God’s wisdom and opportunities in working with the diverse people around us.
Thirdly, 30 years is a long time, so we early pioneers of reconciliation at Musalaha are getting old! Nevertheless, a new generation of peacemakers and promotors of reconciliation are taking more and more responsibility at Musalaha. The vision and calling for reconciliation in Palestine/Israel will continue in the work of our younger generation on the board and in the organization. We already have a network of more than capable Palestinians and Israelis that are facilitating groups, advocating in their community and keen to take a step further in their personal journey of reconciliation. Training leaders in our field of work and in our context is no easy task, but the deep yearning of younger people to see change in our conflict is great. They do not accept the status quo, are keen to take initiative and are far more advance than my generation in their thinking and approach. We are truly thankful for God’s new generation of reconcilers.
Finally, and after reflecting on the past, we look forward to our future work (especially when things go back to ‘normal’). We have two new programs that will be launched, the first is the Musalaha Academy which will be an online platform to learn about our reconciliation curriculum. This will enable all people interested in learning about reconciliation to have easy access to our material. The second program that will be launched is the Jerusalem Program, which is catered to people around the world interested in studying about conflict. In the program, Jerusalem and the many different conflicts in the city will be used as a case study for people to examine and reflect upon. We plan to have between 14 days to a month worth of high quality teaching and touring around the city, in which participants can learn valuable knowledge and skills to take to their respective context. We are truly thankful for God’s blessings and for opening new doors for activities.
I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I pray for blessings and good health for you all!
Musalaha Executive Director — Salim J. Munayer