WE BELONG TO THE LAND: The Story of a Palestinian Israeli Who Lives for Peace and Reconciliation by Elias with Mary E. Jensen Chacour

WE BELONG TO THE LAND: The Story of a Palestinian Israeli Who Lives for Peace and Reconciliation

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The powerful autobiography of a Palestinian priest, at once an indictment of perceived Israeli injustice and a Call for brotherhood between Arabs and Jews. Chacour's family, we learn, lived in the tiny Palestinian village of Biram for sufficient generations to produce 1000-year-old fig trees, passed on from parent to child. In 1948, however, villagers were evicted by Israeli soldiers and, despite promises to the contrary, were never allowed to return. For 40 years, Chacour's father mourned Biram. A ""good man,"" he taught Chacour to tolerate an arrogant Israeli soldier who subjected Palestinians to humiliating body cavity searches (""dirty, dangerous Palestinian who does not count as a human being,"" Chacour interprets the soldier as thinking). Eventually, Chacour became a priest (of the Melkite Christian sect) and was assigned to another village, Ibillin, site of considerable interreligious strife. Chacour's response: lock 250 villagers inside his church until they resolved their differences. Ibillin was reborn, he and coauthor Jensen, a religion writer, tell us, and a new school was even built. Chacour's fame spread; eventually he met with world leaders, including Jimmy Carter, Golda Meir, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Bishop Tutu, who told him, ""There are ways in which your situation in Israel is worse than ours in South Africa."" Chacour's father never did get to sit beneath his fig tree again, but when he died at age 90, he was buried in Biram. A wrenching and determinedly honest book that speaks eloquently and without hatred from the Palestinian side of a tragic conflict.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Harper San Francisco