Elias Chacour was born in 1939 in a family of Palestinian Christian farmers from a village in the Galilee. He was a child when he experienced the trauma of expulsion from his native village of Biram at the time of Israel's foundation. But neither accusations, nor vengeance have been part of his life, a passionate search for understanding, reconciliation and peace, have.
After training at the minor seminary in Nazareth and studying theology in Paris he was ordained priest in 1965 in the Melkite Church (in communion with Rome). Eventually he was appointed parish priest in Ibillin in the Galilee, not far from Haifa.
He is Israeli, but not Jewish; Arab, but not Muslim; his main interest is reconciling divided families, Palestinians and Jews, Muslims and Christians.
From 1968 till 1970 he studied at the New Hebrew University in Jerusalem where he got a Ph.D. in Talmud and Torah Studies, the first Arab Christian to do so.
Despite a lot of opposition, he opened a kindergarten for children in Ibillin - Arab and Jewish, Christian and Muslim - in order to promote mutual understanding through shared education and living together as an antidote to hatred's constant resurgence. Eventually an important educational institution emerged, one that now includes a high school and a university recognised by the state, home today to 4,000 students who are educated according to internationally-recognised standards. And for him the world is where he seeks out and finds sponsors and collaborators.
A nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize three times, Elias Chacour has a circle of friends that includes many rabbis and a few Israeli politicians. In 2006 he was ordained Melkite Archbishop of Galilee, a sign that the Church and Rome have recognised his contribution.
Well-researched and written in an easy-to-read style, this book is like a spellbinding novel based on authentic sources.
Given the never-ending stories of terror coming from the Near East and the situation in Israel, this book is a sign of hope, an indication that understanding and peace are still possible here as well.
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