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Hope against all odds: New springs in the desert

   
 


Father Elias Chacour, Middle East peacemaker, author, and three-time Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, will be on a speaking tour in Southern Ontario from May 28 to June 3.

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May 3, 2005

Winnipeg, Man. — In the dry desert of violence in Israel there are still springs of living water.

A peace-making priest from Galilee – an improbable Arab-Israeli-Palestinian-Christian mix – has been drawing strength from those wells, and will be pouring out a message of Middle East hope in Ontario this spring.

Abuna Elias Chacour (Abuna is Father in Arabic) will be on a speaking tour organized by the Mennonite Church Eastern Canada from May 28 to June 3rd, meeting both in congregations and in public settings. He is a vibrant story-teller who struggles for justice, and demands human rights for all. Chacour will be accompanied by Glenn Edward Witmer. Based in Jerusalem, Witmer works in an educational and bridge-building ministry in Israel through Mennonite Church Canada Witness.

Chacour knows first-hand the story of this Holy Land of the Bible – this unholy land of historical conquests. He was eight years old when Israeli soldiers expelled his family from their ancient village in northern Galilee, then destroyed it so families could not return as had been promised them. But “when I consider the ugliness of the occupation of the Palestinian territories, I remind myself of this fact: the soldiers, the army, and the Jewish people were also created babies in the image and likeness of God.”

For over 20 years this three-time Nobel Peace Prize Nominee has recognized the need for education as the first weapon against hatred and conflict. Educating for Peace has become his life’s commitment.

He has worked to develop schools from kindergarten to university and professional teacher training in a small Arab-Israeli village of Ibillin, near Nazareth in Galilee. Today the academic institutions comprise over 270 faculty and staff, with more than 3,300 students in a complex of seven institutions ranging from kindergarten to post-secondary. The Mar Elias Campus (branch of the University of Indianapolis) is fully accredited by the Israeli Council of Higher Education, and is in its second year of operation. A new Peace Centre has already been created and is beginning to develop a library and research programs that will eventually lead to degree courses in Peace, Justice, Reconciliation, and Conflict Transformation.

To those who visit his office at Mar Elias Educational Institutions., he delivers a clear message. “If you’re coming here to help the Israelis, we don’t need you,” Chacour tells his startled guests. “And if you are coming to side with the Palestinians, we don’t want you either ... You must realize that every time you take the side of one of the peoples here, you become just one more enemy to the other. You need to build a bridge from the middle to reach each side.”

As author of the huge international seller, Blood Brothers, Chacour is in constant demand as an international speaker. Through personal example and ministry commitment he brings to life the peace teachings of Jesus, his fellow Man from Galilee.

Chacour’s Southern Ontario itinerary is available at http://members.porchlight.ca/lmc/ChacourItinerary.htm


For more information, including how to meet Elias Chacour in Ontario, contact:

Kitchener-Waterloo:
Lyn Drudge (sldrudge@golden.net) 519-634-8311

Greater Toronto Area:
Pieter Niemeyer (pieter@rvmc.ca) 905-294-6242

St. Catharines:
Doug Amstutz (doug@gracemennonite.com) 905-935-6112