Written by Elias Chacour | Reviewed by Mary Zoroufy
Elias Chacour and his family were living an idyllic life as Palestinian Christians in the same village in which his family had lived peacefully with Jewish neighbors for many generations. He could trace his family back to the early Christians in that village. At a very young age Elias learned from his father and mother to love everyone, the land and all who shared it, with stories of Jesus walking that very land. He also learned that love and forgiveness were important for a peaceful life. His father planted and tended his fig trees treating them like his children.
In 1947 this perfect life was swept away. Armed soldiers came and told everyone they must leave their homes for their own protection. After a couple of weeks of living in the open they tried to go back but their village as well as all other villages had been destroyed. Men and boys were hauled away in trucks and were called terrorists. During this time tens of thousands were killed and about one million were pushed into refugee camps. This was not done by the Jewish people that lived in Palestine but by the Zionists. The Zionist movement to take over Palestine had been backed by the British starting in the early 1900’s so the end of WW II was the perfect time to continue with their plan. It is hard for me to understand how they could do to others what had been done to them.
Fortunately, Elias’s brothers were returned home and Elias at age 12 was sent to an orphanage in Haifa where he was educated. Because Elias showed so much promise he was admitted to other schools including the acclaimed Hebrew University in Jerusalem. During this time he never lost sight of the fact that his family, friends and neighbors were still living in poverty. His goal was to be able to draw the attention of the world to the plight of the Palestinians.
Many well-known names are in the picture. In 1948 David Ben Gurion set up a Zionist government which the US immediately recognized. In 1968 Yassar Arafat and the PLO decided that they couldn’t stand by and watch the theft and destruction of their homes any longer. In 1970 Golda Mair started her “land reform” which was taking more land for the Jews and then there was M. Begin.
This book is very important in the understanding of the Palestinian/Jewish conflict which has been going on since 1947. The important point is that it is told by a Palestinian Christian from his first-hand experience growing up in a family with a father that taught Jesus’ love and forgiveness to all no matter what their religion.
In order to resolve a conflict like this we must try to understand the history of the issue rather than taking sides based on emotion. Our own country is not immune to this kind of conflict. This is what we did to the Native Americans for more than a hundred years, blacks have been targeted and now there is a rise in antisemitism.
Blood Brothers was written in 1984 with reprinting in 2003 and 2013. A second book We Belong to the Land was written in 2001. These books show what a remarkable man Elias Chacour is and how he has spent his life strengthening the bonds between Christians, Muslims and Jews by building schools, churches and communities for all. He gives lectures around the world to help fund his mission. He wrote a third book Faith Beyond Despair, Building Hope in the Holy Land which I have not read.