Religious Heroism: Individuals Can Change the World

    Equally intelligent, beautiful, human Israeli and Palestinian families continue burying their children.

    They weep and mourn in unspeakable pain.

    Both “respond” with more killing and other forms of violence to “show them they can’t do that.”

    Both peoples—intellectually and spiritually gifted among them—allow themselves to become less human, less religious.
   
    Yet, there are LIVING EXAMPLES to show us we can move beyond this human tragedy of revenge can end.

    1.  Amy Biehl’s Family

    In Summer, 1993 Stanford University graduate Amy Biehl was stoned to death by enraged young South African Blacks. 

    They did not realize she was there as a relentless fighter for human rights.

    In response, her parents began devoting their lives to establish programs to train and help South African Blacks, including the same young men who killed their daughter.

    The year after Amy’s murder, Apartheid ended in South African, and there was a new birth of freedom in the land.

    Read about the Amy Biehl Foundation and her life at http://www.amybiehl.org/ .
   
    2.  The Parents Circle - Families Forum

    In the Middle East, 500 Israeli and Palestinian bereaved households, all of whom have lost an immediate family member in the on-going conflict, choose to reject violence.

    Instead of seeking revenge, they grieve and build new relationships together.

    Palestinian Dr. Adel Misk, is the Chairperson of the Palestinian branch.  Israeli Boaz Kitain, the Educational Activities Director, has replaced Orthodox Jewish Israeli Yitzhak Frankenthal as General Manager.

    The inspiring story of this new breed of Semite is at
http://www.theparentscircle.org/ .

    3.  Judea Pearl and Akbar Ahmed

    Two years ago American journalist Daniel Pearl was murdered in Pakistan. 

    His father, Judea, chose to encourage Muslims and Jews all over the world to reach out to one another to build relationships.

    He models his idea by travelling and speaking with Muslim Akbar Ahmed, another university educator, as a living example of redeeming violent death by treating a root cause—ignorance of one another, not listening, not feeling heard and understood.

    Judea’s newly established Daniel Pearl Foundation is described at http://www.danielpearl.org/ .

  4.  Nick Berg’s father, Michael

  In May, 2004 26-year-old American Nick Berg was beheaded by angry Iraqis.

    They released the gruesome video to be seen by his family and the world.

    Can you imagine his family’s response?  Perhaps.

    In early June, Nick’s father, Michael, mailed his response to a handwritten condolence letter expressing hope that the growing MIddle East public peace process would help redeem his son Nick’s life and death.

    Mr. Berg said:

“Thank you for your letter.  You, the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group, Nick and I all share one common thought:  All people are worthy and valuable.  I have used the words you quoted about listening to our enemies over and over again.  My sister, a Jew, married a Muslim Iraqi man in 1965.  It was always her dream to open a restaurant called: “The Knish and the Kabob.”  Had she lived, that restaurant would have embraced the brotherhood we so need.  Michael Berg”
 

    It was Summer 2001—exactly three years ago—when a forward-thinking Beirut Star correspondent sat in our living room.

    She was interviewing us Palestinians and Jews for the first-ever story on Dialogue for that Arab newspaper.

    “Arabs and Jews discover each other” read the headline of that Beirut Star breakthrough article.

    Now, Summer 2004, the same leading Arab Beirut Star newspaper has chanced a call to end revenge and champion Dialogue.

    It tells us and the world more about Daniel Pearl’s dad, Judea, and his Muslim partner-in-listening, Akbar Ahmed, re-printed from the Voice of America, this act itself a new kind of coming-together.

    “Pearl says his son’s death is a symbol of what has gone wrong in Muslim-Jewish relations. He hopes that by breaking down negative stereotypes and shifting the nature of discourse from accusations to understanding, he will help keep his son’s spirit alive.

    Read, and know that you are not alone. 

    And live this life yourself, and work together with others.  It’s a great life worth getting good at and passing on.

            —L&L

Read more on the Traubman’s website about what individuals can accomplish http://traubman.igc.org/dg-prog.htm


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