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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Peace in Palestinian classrooms

In Lutheran schools, students learn respect and love for 'the other'

It should take Amal Abed Rabbo, 16, one hour to reach the Lutheran Dar al-Kalima School in Bethlehem from her Jericho home. With Israeli travel restrictions, it takes three hours each way. Instead, she stays with her uncle’s family in Bethlehem during the week.

But the Roman Catholic 11th-grader doesn’t harbor any hatred. “The situation is not good for us, but I don’t have hatred against Israel,” she said. “I have hope and faith that the situation will one day end and we will have peace.”

Amira Shokeh (left), 16, and Mohanad
Amira Shokeh (left), 16, and Mohanad Khatib, 16, discuss tolerance with Tony Nassar (center), Christianity teacher at Dar Al-Kalima School in Bethlehem.

Students at the four schools run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land must strive daily to practice Jesus’ edict to “love thy neighbor.” Each day they face political hardships with the Israeli government and within their society. Charlie Haddad, educational director for the schools, sees helping students come to terms with their reality as a main task, in addition to striving for academic excellence.

“If they start hating, it will never end,” he said. “It is the biggest challenge to convince the young people not to feel [hate]. Of course they struggle with it. They see the news, hear their parents and feel the economic hardship. It is very difficult to convince them that it is a government doing that and not to stereotype a whole nation.”

But Haddad doesn’t necessarily want the children to get used to the situation either.


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