Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour

A boy growing up in Galilee, knowing that Jesus walked on the same land he calls home, and knowing that his ancestors were there, that his Christian family is directly descended from the people who heard Jesus speak. In 1947, this boy is seven years old, climbing a fig tree. He does not know of events occurring in the rest of the world. One day, his father explains to the family, "In Europe, there was a man called Hitler. A Satan. For a long time he was killing Jewish people. Men and women, grandparents--even boys and girls like you. He killed them just because they were Jews. For no other reason. Now this Hitler is dead. But our Jewish brothers have been badly hurt and frightened. They can't go back to their homes in Europe, and they have not been welcomed by the rest of the world. So they are coming here to look for a home...We must be especially kind and make them feel at home" (p. 20).

The boy, Elias Chacour, feels terrible for what has happened to the Jews in Europe. What he does not know is that the coming of the Jews will shatter his carefree, idyllic lifestyle as a Palestinian.

Blood Brothers is the story of how, in a time of upheaval and violence, Elias Chacour tries to live by the values of forgiveness and compassion which he learned from his father and from his religion.

I am reading Blood Brothers because it was recommended by my grandmother, and I see why it is important to her. Besides the fact that it takes place in a country she lived in several years previous to the events of the book, the values Elias learned and tries to live by are the values my grandmother and I grew up with in our Quaker family, values which I rarely see expressed in the media or the people around me.

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