Elias Chacour, the Palestinian Christian who has dedicated his life to making peace inside Israel, brought his testimony and witness to a Nazareth Project luncheon April 11 in Wilmington, DE.
Speaking to a group of 25 Nazareth Project supporters who traveled to Wilmington for the occasion, Abuna Chacour (as he is affectionately known) spoke of his struggle to build and maintain a school for Muslim, Jewish, Druze and Christian children and youth in Ibillin, a town in Galilee (northern Israel).
The Israeli government has repeatedly blocked his efforts (usually by denying permits to build), but Chacour has persisted. Today, more than 3,000 students attend the private schools Chacour began. Together, they are known as the Mar Elias Educational Institutions.
As Chacour puts it, “the future of the villagers in Ibillin, of the citizens of the state of Israel, and indeed the future of all of God’s children in the Holy Land, depend on educating the young in the ways of peace, reconciliation, respect, and justice.”
Chacour is well acquainted with Nazareth Hospital and School of Nursing. He spoke highly of its work and expressed appreciated for the steadfast support Nazareth Project has provided.
During the Q & A that followed, Chacour spoke candidly of the “second class” citizenship Palestinians hold in Israel. Yet he also cautioned against any form of animosity against Jews, whom he consistently refers to as “brothers.”
“We belong to this land together—Christian, Muslim, Druze and Jew,” he said. “To Americans, I say: we welcome your support and personal involvement, but not if it comes with hostility toward any of our neighbors.”