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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Hiam Abu Dayyeh

Hiam Abu Dayyeh brightens as she surveys Abraham's House, a conference center being built at Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Beit Jala. The center will bring together young Jews, Muslims and Christians to foster dialogue and build trust. Abu Dayyeh's hopes have been fueled by past discussions with Jewish groups.

"We had contacts with Israeli organizations and peace groups, visiting each other in Haifa and in Beit Jala," she says. "At the meetings, we thought we were near to peace.

"Now we can't meet because of the political situation. I still have contact with the Israeli women. Now they say, 'God bless you' and 'Be careful.' They are human like we are. We could live together. Why not? This is our destiny to live together on this land. Where else can we go?

"The policy of Israel makes people more radical. Nobody wants to be radical, but they must remove the checkpoints and withdraw from the territories. There must be two states in this land.

"Everyone is desperate. They are out of work and feel like they are in prison. ... Two days ago five Palestinian children were killed in Gaza. If they were Israeli, it would be in all the papers. But they are only Palestinian children. So who cares?

"I have to give myself hope and strength so I can give others hope. I'm Christian, so I get hope through my prayers. There is no other way. We live only once. We must learn to live in hope."


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