Is Peace possible in the Middle East?

A friend who lived in The Holy Land for 5 years has wonderful inspiring stories from his time there. Here is one of them.
Haifa is known as being different from the rest of the Middle East in general and Israel in particular due to the level of inter-religious cooperation. Documentaries have been filmed in Hafia about this phenomenon and broadcast on national television. In one, the documentary narrator asks why can’t the Jews, Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv cooperate and live together in peace like the Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Baha’is in Hafia. The history of inter-religious cooperation began with Abdu’l-Baha’s then radical actions of distributing food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, and money to the poor regardless of what religious or ethnic background the needy belonged to. The Rabbis, Mullas, and Priests in Haifa would often follow the Master to ask questions about their Holy Books because He knew their Holy Books better than they did and He would always answer their questions with quotations from their own Holy Books. The Rabbis, Mullas, and Priests in Haifa noticed Abdu’l-Baha’s distributions to the needy regardless of ethnic group or religion was practicing the best their own religions taught. This insight combined with the Master’s efforts to eventually create a level of religious cooperation in Haifa that is unknown elsewhere in the Middle East. One documentary on the religious cooperation in Hafia was entitled “Abbas Street,” which is the name of the street that was named after the Master’s given name, Abbas Effendi. One night I drove some friends to a potluck dinner on Abbas Street, and after dinner we saw that cars had double-parked behind my car, beside my car, and in front of my car, making it impossible for me to drive my car anywhere. I saw three little girls playing together in the street, and had purchased books and tapes on speaking Hebrew and Arabic for just such an occasion. These three little girls may have been Jewish, Muslim, and Christian, because Abbas Street is known for the mixing of ethnic groups and religions. When I tried to ask the little girls for help, they immediately recognized my horrible American accent, and replied in English, “How can we help you mister?” I showed them how my car was blocked in, and then the girls ran off to find the owners. Although Haifa is the third largest city in Israel with more than 300,000 residents, the inter-religious cooperation has enabled the city to retain the qualities of a small town, such that the little girls knew who owned each car and where each car’s owner lived. The girls must have told the owners about my horrible American accent because the cars’ owners appeared and apologized in English. The cars around my car parted, and I felt like Moses parting the Red Sea as I drove through the parted cars which closed the space behind me. If a similar incident had occurred in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, angers could have flared, a fight could have started, weapons could have been used, and a life could have been tragically taken. However, in Haifa all that occurred was an incident that I could later recount as a funny story. The people in Haifa do not need government programs or any outsiders to tell them that inter-religious cooperation is good, for many have experienced the benefits of living lives free from prejudice thanks to Abdu’l-Baha. The question that many people often ask is whether peace is possible in the Middle East. The question that they should be asking is what can be done to help the peace that already exists in Haifa spread to the rest of the Middle East.

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