We Belong to the Land
116 pages

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Nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, world-renowned Palestinian priest, Elias Chacour, narrates the gripping story of his life spent working to achieve peace and reconciliation among Israeli Jews, Christians, and Muslims. From the destruction of his boyhood village and his work as a priest in Galilee to his efforts to build school, libraries, and summer camps for children of all religions, this peacemaker’s moving story brings hope to one of the most complex struggles of our time.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 novembre 2015
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780268077099
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

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We Belong to the Land
The University of Notre Dame Press gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the estate of Erma Konya Kess in the publication of this series.
Elias Chacour with Mary E. Jensen
University of Notre Dame Press Notre Dame, Indiana
University of Notre Dame Press Notre Dame, Indiana 46556 www.undpress.nd.edu All Rights Reserved Published in the United States of America
Copyright © 2001 by University of Notre Dame
Reprinted in 2001, 2003
Library of congress cataloging-in-Publiçation Data
Chacour, Elias, 1939– We belong to the land. p. cm. — (Erma Konya Kess lives of the just and virtuous series) Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-268-01963-0 (pbk.: alk. paper) ISBN-13: 978-0-268-07708-2 (web pdf) 1. Chacour, Elias, 1939– 2. Palestinian Arabs—Israel—Galilee—Biography. 3. Catholic Church —Byzantine rite, Melchite—Israel—Galilee—Clergy—Biography. 4. Arab-Israeli conflict. I. Series.
DS113.7 .C495 2001 956.94'0049274'0092—dc21 [B]
ISBN 9780268077099
This book is printed on açid-free paper.
This e-Book was converted from the original source file by a third-party vendor. Readers who notice any formatting, textual, or readability issues are encouraged to contact the publisher at ebooks@nd.edu.
To all who have formed my personality as a priest, who have encouraged me in my task through their love and understanding, and who have shared my mission and work.
Map of Israel Preface to the New Edition 1. Stronger Than the Storm 2. We Don’t Want You Here! 3. The Tree Must Live! 4. Palm Sunday Prisoners 5. A New Jeremiah Speaks 6. Where Is God? 7. Go Visit Every Home! 8. We Young Priests 9. Escape 10. Of Cucumbers, Books, and Pigs 11. Marching in Jerusalem 12. Welcome to Beirut, Abuna! 13. This Man Is Like Ashes 14. We Are Human Beings, Not Cattle or Insects 15. The Mount of the Ogre 16. Remember the Little Ones, My Son 17. Get Up, Go Ahead, Do Something, Move! 18. The Mount of Light 19. For Sale: One Permit 20. Betrayed 21. Living Stones 22. Crucified in Gaza 23. No More Dirty Anybody! 24. Dry Bones Will Come Back to Life Notes Glossary
Map of Israel
Preface to the New Edition
“For every tree is known by its own fruits. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor from a bramble bush gather they grapes.” Luke 6:44
Good trees give good fruit.
What has become of the Prophet Elias High School in Ibillin, Galilee, Israel? What has Abuna Chacour become after all these years?We Belong to the Land ended at the dawn of 1991. One building stood alone on the Mount of Light, a high school for approximately 800 students. Since then we have progressed enormously. The present campus enrollment is approximately 4,000 students and 275 faculty members. They commute every morning from seventy different villages and towns all over Israel. In any given week more than 4,000Children of Godcome to Mar Elias Educational Institutions. They generously radiate joy and take back home with them friendship, hope and knowledge. We have grown so much. The school became the “Mar Elias Educational Institutions” (MEEI). This is the only Arab campus in all of Israel and the high school is only one part of this campus. We have added the College with its three-year program following high school and have started working toward accreditation as a full-fledged university. Nineteen hundred and ninety-four was a year of challenge at Mar Elias. We felt the urgency of providing an alternative that would slow down the rate of emigration from the Holy Land, especially of the Christian Palestinians. Many more Palestinian Christians live in the huge Diaspora of the Western world than in the Holy Land itself. We reached the conclusion that the only thing that could slow down this tragic emigration would be the creation of an Arab-Christian-Israeli university. No one except us, a small group of believers and friends, were ready to consider this possibility. It would cost millions and no one had the funds. Besides, who could deal with the civil and religious authorities to get their blessing and endorsement for the project? Many of the Arab citizens in Israel realize that we cannot hope for any blessing from the authorities, since in fact they have no blessing to give. We had no choice but to fall back on the popular adage: “It is easier to seek forgiveness than to obtain permission.” Once again we sought to establish an accomplished fact. What was going on there on the Mount of Light on that morning of October 14,1994? University students at Mar Elias? Yes! One hundred students were gathered in the gymnasium. They looked lost inside the big hall. I began my opening speech. Here are some of my remarks: “My friends, today at this moment we are starting a new page in the history of Israel-Palestine. We are challenging everyone in this country. We are ready for the long march toward the first Christian-Arab-Israeli university. We have matured and we refuse to be dependent on others for our education. Our community is ready to take the initiative. We want to build this country together with our Jewish brothers and sisters. It is time to challenge them all with higher education and modern skills. We have conformed long enough to the type of “good citizen” they imposed on us. We refuse any more to be passive. We want to build this country together. We need to be genuine, active citizens, to be partners in the decision-making process. We have to start now, together with our Jewish brothers and sisters, to prepare the future we want for our children. Both the Jews and Palestinians are children of Abraham. The Gentile Friend of God, Khalilu Allah, is our common father. They the Jews and we the Palestinians can never be a sign of hope for the nations unless we reconcile and give a joint witness of compassion and of mercy. Through your presence you become aliving stone. Together you are the cornerstone of this future university. “You must know that we decided to start without any kind of permit. We have permits neither from the Church, nor from the academic or civil authorities. We do not have permission to open the first scholastic year, but we have the God-given right to education and no one can deprive us. You want a university! You have decided to join us in the long march! You are ready to take the risk, to get your hands dirty. That is why you are here. “It is time for us to proclaim loud and clear this is the hour to create an institution of higher education inside the state of Israel, an Arab-Israeli university. We want Jewish students to come
and join us. They will not be considered guests or a minority. They are invited to be our partners, part of our own self. We need their presence and their help, but we are also ready to share with them and to offer them help. We are citizens of this big national community and want to be active citizens. Bear with us all the problems and the difficulties. We will not rest until we have the recognition of the authorities and accreditation from the educational institutions. Through perseverance we can overcome. “We need to challenge the authorities with perseverance, excellence in achievement, and the highest possible standard of human values. There will be moments of hardship, of despair, of doubt, of temptation to give up, times when we long to turn and go home. I invite you, every time you reach the bottom of hope, to start again beyond despair. To sink into despair is not for us. Out from the tomb comes the Resurrection. Isn’t it true that the Friday of the crucifixion is followed by the Sunday of the Resurrection? Yes, my dear friends, it is the reality. Those whosow with tears shall reap with joy. “I close my eyes and look three years ahead. You shall not be alone, you shall double, even triple in number. You shall be hundreds and thousands to start the school year. You shall not remain alone—Christians, Moslem and Druze. Keep a place ready for our Jewish brothers and sisters. They will be missed always until they come and sit with us around these simple desks. They will come and start the serious work of preparing together the future we all want for our children. Now, my dear friends, thank you for the immense trust you put in each other. Together we have no other way but to be stronger than any possible misunderstanding or any storm that might arise on our way toward our common goal; the Arab-Christian-Israeli university in Galilee …” The college opened in October 1994. The facilities were in use from 8 am until 9 pm. Not a single classroom went unused during the daytime, so we ran two shifts, one for the high school, the other for the college. We found it necessary to add at least a hundred new classrooms. We decided not to accept any fund raising from big organizations that would enslave us. Rather, we would continue to rely on the small means we had and the many friends who believed in what we were doing. When we began the new building, out of nowhere friends responded to our appeal. Their small donations were most effective. We shall never forget the magnificent letter we received at the beginning of 1997 from an elderly American lady. She wrote, “Father Chacour, I read your books, I follow you from afar as much as I can. You have changed my life to the extent that I identify with what you are doing. Through what you are doing you embody forgiveness, courage, and determination. You surely learned the lesson from the One you call ‘My Compatriot.’ I decided to send you for the new building all my savings from last month.” Inside her letter was a check for ten American dollars. This donation was worth so much more than the ten dollars. A classroom in the new building has been named after that beautiful child of God who sent us “all her savings from last month.” I pray that God blesses her with a long life and many months to save ten more dollars and to rejoice in giving away what she has saved. The thousands of visitors who have come to Mar Elias College during these past years have made the dream become a reality. Their presence and their solidarity strengthen our weakness and fill us with courage. It is like living a dream. Every morning thousands of children of God climb the Mountain of Light; Moslems, Druze, Jews and Christians alike. They arrive with a beautiful smile on their faces, as if saying “we’ve come home.” Mar Elias is our college. We have a future. We have hope. The college is a great success. It has the support of the Arab minority inside Israel and of so many Jews as well. The first year enrollment was 100 students, then 340, 550, 740 and 800 students. At the end of the second scholastic year we had already won the sympathy of the authorities. Then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres came to the school to see what was going on in that remote place called Ibillin. He said that he had come to the school to see with his own eyes what visiting U.S. Secretary of State James Baker had raised so much concern about in Jerusalem. It was indeed due to Baker’s strong intervention that we received the building permit for the gymnasium. Peres proposed to be our ambassador from that time on. He encouraged the Minister of Education, Professor Rubenstein, to visit. This man came with a priceless gift, a gift for which we had waited a long time … he came to officially recognize the existence of the college and to give us accreditation. What a victory that was! It was a victory for the minister himself, for the Jewish people, for the Palestinians, and especially for our students. We had won the trust and the
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