A Palestinian family reacts after Israeli bulldozers demolished their home in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, Feb. 5, 2013. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Newly elected Israeli Knesset member Yair Lapid (l), leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to Naftali Bennett, head of the hard-line national religious party the Jewish Home, during a Feb. 5 reception in Jerusalem marking the opening of the 19th Knesset. (URIEL SINAI/GETTY IMAGES)
Richard Curtiss at work in his Washington Report office. (STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY)
Then-Vice President Dick Cheney (l) and Likud chairman Benyamin Netanyahu, out of office at the time and serving as the official Israeli opposition leader, at a March 23, 2008 breakfast meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (r) shares candies with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim during a Feb. 11 visit to the rebels’ stronghold in Sultan Kudarat on the island of Mindanao. (KARLOS MANLUPIG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Emad Burnat views his five broken cameras in his documentary of the same name. (PHOTO COURTESY KINO LORBER)
January/February 2012, Page 50
Building Interfaith Peace
Featuring representatives of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Oct. 29 "Peace Building/Interfaith Voices of Peace" panel at the HCEF conference addressed the need for building peace and understanding among the Abrahamic faiths. Claudette Habesch, secretary-general of CARITAS Jerusalem, moderated the discussion.
Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu Akel, executive director of Atlanta Ministry with International Students (AMIS), and pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian Church, began by lamenting the fact that many Americans fail to recognize the Holy Land's religious diversity, mistakenly believing that all Arabs are Muslims. "Palestinian Christians do not exist in the minds of the American people," said Abu-Akel, who served as Moderator of the 2.5-member Presbyterian Church USA in 2002-2003, the first Palestinian to lead a major American denomination. Akel concluded his remarks by urging the U.S. to exercise tough love with its Israeli ally, pointing out that "if you have a brother who is a drunk, you do not give him money and alcohol."
Rabbi Arthur Blecher of Beth Chai, The Greater Washington Jewish Humanist Congregation, emphasized that global acceptance and universal peace are the two preconditions necessary to achieve world peace. Furthermore, the rabbi stated, it is everyone's responsibility to make choices that advance universal cooperation.
"We are called the children of Abraham because we have yet to grow up," quipped Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, the first U.S. university to hire a full-time Muslim chaplain. Criticizing the Abrahamic faiths for their inability to achieve interfaith peace, Imam Hendi said that all faiths must embrace "the spirit of bridge building" and "reclaim the spirit of love." In order to achieve greater peace, he stressed, it is essential for all people to "master the art of listening to one another." Emphasizing that engaging in conversation is not simply enough, Hendi stated that individuals "need not only to speak, but to act."