Dear  Fr. Labib,
dear Friends,
Here is an English translation of the speech I gave at Tantur Ecumenical Institute on  November 5, last Sunday, in Arabic and Hebrew. The event's initiative was that of the "oldest" israeli Peace activist, Amos Mokedi. Participants : Palestinians and Israelis; Christians , Muslims and Jews , tired from war and violence:
"Light a candle for Peace"
          (By  Fr. Peter H. Madros)
Nov. 5, 2000

    "Happy are the peacemakers, because they shall be called : 'Children of God' ."   Salam, shlama (Aramaic Christian greeting), shalom !    The divine Word teaches us , in Isaiah , here too, today, somewhere between Beit Jala and the Ghilo settlement :"And the fruit of justice shall be peace, and My people will dwell in the oasis of peace"! In the same Book of Isaiah, at the end of the "Song of the Vine" (Chapter 5), we find today, as did the Jerusalem great Prophet , "mishpah" instead of "mishpat", "blood-shed" instead of "justice", and "tse'aqah"  instead of "tsedaqah", "crying" instead of " righteousness" ! When shall the Palestinian demand of justice meet the Israeli Jewish necessity of 'security" ?

  November 5, 1989 ! That was already "last century". Jews, Christians and Muslims, met in our Latin (Roman Catholic) Church of Beit Sahoor, in spite of the closure (which lasted for 43 days). We did so in order to pray for peace. We welcomed late Jerusalem Mufti, Sheikh Sa'd Ad-Din Al-Alami and a number of Muslims religious leaders, as well as rabbis and other Jewish Peace activists whom I called "the living conscience of the Jewish and Israeli people". Bishops and priests, pastors from several denominations gathered also in the same Church.

  November 5, 1995, assasinate of Israeli Premier , Itzhaq Rabin. I believe that, in some aspects, Rabin resembles August Caesar.  General Octavian (the future Emperor) started his career with war. Violence was the only language he understood, like Rabin , an army man, who occupied East Jerusalem in June 1967. 0ctavian triumphed over his enemies, included Mark Antony, He become Emperor, was given the title of "Augustus", the august venerable one. He switched for peace ! He imposed the "Pax Roman", the "Roman Peace" , a wonderful period of time without wars. Exactly in this 'Pax Romana", Jesus of Nazareth was born and lived.

For Christians and Muslims, He is the Messiah, Christ. For Christians, the King Messiah  Jesus is also and mainly the Lord, the  Savior and the King of Peace. The Angels sang at His birth "glory to God on high and peace on earth to people of good will".

Rabin, like Octavian- August  Caesar, tried to make peace, after so many battles and wars. Violence people killed his non-violence.

  Muslims believe , like Christians and Jews, in the spiritual fatherhood of Abraham of Ur, model of faith. Mount Moriah is holy for the three monotheistic religions. When shall  the "islam" find the "salam" (peace), especially in this Country ? The Koran (Prophets 21 : 105) quotes the Psalms (37 (36) ,11) and the Gospel of the Beatitudes (Mt 5, 5) where we read that the "meek will inherit the earth". The Koran states that the "pious" and "righteous servants" of the Lord shall inherit the earth. Yes, the faithful, pious and righteous servants (al-ubbad al-salihun) have to be non -violent ! A lesson that   Mahatma Ghandi had well understood ! Non-violence "worked"  achieving the liberation of India, will it work for Palestine and Palestinians ?

  In Arabic, wisdom is "hikmah" (like the Hebrew "hokhmah") and government is "hookoomah". In Hebrew, government is "memshalah", from "mashal", to rule over, but also from "mashal", lesson of wisdom, parable.

So, let us pray and wish that Arab governments be always wise ,and that the Hebrew Government rulle well the Jews of the Holy Land, without domineering over Arabs and that it learn , from the more or less painful past, "lessons" for the present and the future !

 When will our  two peoples listen to the unusual, sublime and heroic precept- recipe of the great Nazarean :"Love your enemies "? (Mt 5,44). When shall enemies , here and all over the world, realize - without judging who is the "good guy" like Abel and the bad one like Cain, that they are brothers ?

Many houses were destroyed  or seriouly damaged in Beit Jala and Beit sahoor, by the Israeli shelling. In Arabic we describe the "destruction of house(s)" as "kharab bayt". In hebrew "khorban bayt"  (exactly the same roots and expression) expresses "the destruction of the House", the Temple. But there can never been "a House of God" if one destroys "the houses of people" !