As the world continues to debate how to resolve conflicts in Syria, Egypt, and too many other places, negotiators have quietly, and mostly confidentially, continued peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The talks, which began mid-August, have taken place in Israel and the West Bank behind closed doors and with little public posturing.
Cynics are quick to criticize these peace talks, which they believe will prove to be just another in a failed series. Others see them as a futile exercise that will only raise expectations and create more bitterness. And then there are those who have written off the entire Middle East as "a mess" and are simply disengaged from the issues.
But I'm not one of those people. I continue to pray, hope and believe in peace for the Holy Land. I support the talks and believe that they can succeed. And I ask other Christians to join me.
My hope does not come from naïve optimism, but from time spent in the region, researching and writing about the conflict and meeting with people who live with the effects of it daily. A skeptic at the beginning of my journey, I was first surprised and then greatly moved by the people I met there who are working—often sacrificially—for peace.
My heart was changed as I watched Robi Damelin, an Israeli Jew, embrace Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian Muslim, as they each told of losing a child to the conflict. Members of the Parents Circle/Family Forum, they join dozens of other Israelis and Palestinians who meet together and speak out about their own losses, determined to find a way to keep others from experiencing the same pain they have endured. Their friendships don't come easily. But perhaps more than any other people ...1
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