Original Proposal – Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour – August 10th

Just in time for the United Nations General Assembly vote in September to recognize the Statehood of Palestine, our focus is Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour (available from your local library or for $5.20 from Amazon.com + shipping).

Elias Chacour is the Archbishop of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and All Galilee of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church which is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church (although the Melkite Greek Catholic Church's origins lie in the Middle East, its members are spread throughout the world and number 1.6 million).

Chacour was born November 29, 1939 in the village of Kafr Bir'im in Upper Galilee in the British Mandate of Palestine to a Palestinian Christian family, members of the Melkite Catholic Church. At the age of eight he was evicted along with his whole village of Biram by Yishuv forces and became a deportee and a refugee but remained in the region. Because he remained in his homeland, he was granted Israeli citizenship when the state was created in 1948.

Completing his schooling in Nazareth, he studied theology at St. Sulpice Seminary in Paris, returning home in 1965. He was ordained a priest by Archbishop George Selim Hakim of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and all Galilee, who became Patriarch Maximos V two years later after the death of Patriarch Maximos IV Sayegh who was called "The Lion of the Council" (Vatican II). Chacour later studied the Torah and Talmud at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as well as Aramaic and Syriac, becoming the first Arab to gain a higher degree there.

Noted for his efforts to promote reconciliation between Arabs and Israelis, he is the author of two books about the experience of Palestinian people living in present-day Israel. Blood Brothers covers his childhood growing up in the town of Biram, his development into a young man, and his early years as a priest in Ibillin. This book has been translated into more than twenty languages. His second book, We Belong to the Land, recounts his work in the development of Mar Elias Educational Institutions, from humble beginnings to major schools for educating Palestinian young people and for helping to bring about reconciliation in a land of strife. This book has been translated into 11 languages.

An advocate of non-violence, Chacour travels often between the Middle East and other countries around the world. In addition, many visitors, fact-finding missions, and pilgrims have come to Ibillin. In recognition of his humanitarian efforts he has received honors including the World Methodist Peace Award, the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, and the Niwano Peace Prize (Japan) as well as honorary doctorates from five universities including Duke and Emory.

The Forward for Blood Brothers was written by James Baker III, Chief of Staff for President Reagan and Secretary of State for the first President Bush.
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