When I went to Israel in January of this year, I blogged about a lot and read a lot of books on it. Apart from one book I read called The Lemon Tree, focusing on the Palestinian aspect of Israel’s history, the rest of them focused on Israel and the land. I didn’t particularly like The Lemon Tree as a book, so I didn’t dwell all that much on what was in it. Recently, I was recommended to read a book called Blood Brothers that is essentially the same type of perspective as The Lemon Tree, but it is a ten times better book. It is an absolutely gripping story of Elias Chacour and offers a Palestinian perspective. More than just a retelling of facts, it provides a profoundly helpful conclusion as to what we are to make of things today. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone as it will open your eyes to the Israeli/Palestinian tensions but also to tensions of humanity in general.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book (notice the theme of dignity):
It is extraordinary how a voice from our childhood, even one word spoken at a crucial moment, can bury itself inside only to reveal its simple wisdom in a crisis our adult minds cannot begin to fathom.
peace can never be achieved by violence; violence begets more violence. For the first time, I saw clearly the face of my true enemy and the enemy of all who are friends of God and of peace. It was not the Zionists, but the demon of militarism.
“If there is a problem somewhere,” he said with his dry chuckle, “this is what happens. Three people will try to do something concrete to settle the issue. Ten people will give a lecture analyzing what the three are doing. One hundred people will commend or condemn the ten for their lecture. One thousand people will argue about the problem. And one person—only one—will involve himself so deeply in the true solution that he is too busy to listen to any of it.” “Now,” he asked gently, his penetrating eyes meeting each of ours in turn, “which person are you?”
Suddenly I knew that the first step toward reconciling Jew and Palestinian was the restoration of human dignity.
I thought, If only the whole nation of Israel—and the whole world—could understand that Jews and Palestinians can get along when they begin to treat each other with dignity.
Bishop Raya nodded. “Exactly. When you build dignity, you begin to destroy prejudice.”
I told them the way of a peacemaker was difficult—it required deep forgiveness, risking the friendship of your enemies, begging for peace on your knees and in the streets.
There is a Latin proverb: Homo hominis lupus (“Man, toward man, is a wolf”). In light of this ancient wisdom, war between Palestinian and Jew is even more terrible. Frater fratris lupissimus (“Brother toward brother can be worse than a wolf”).