This video captures a performance on Thursday April 4, 2013 in Madison, WI of a one man play–We Belong to the Land–based on the life of world-renowned Palestinian peacemaker, Elias Chacour. The Archbishop of Galilee of the Malkite Greek Catholic Church, Chacour is also a founder of the nonprofit “Pilgrims of Ibillin,” which works to advance understandings about persons of all faiths living in Israel. Its projects include the Mar Elias Educational Institutions in Ibillin (a small village located just east of Haifa in what is now northern Israel), where Christians, Jews, Muslims and Druze are educated without regard to religion or ethnic background. Much of the work of the program is made possible by support from American churches and other institutions and individuals, several of them in greater Madison.
The play tells a remarkable story of peace and reconciliation in the face of a life that began at the time of the disruption of Palestinian lives that coincided with the birth of Israel. Born in the village of Kafr Bir’im in Upper Galilee to a Palestinian Christian family, Elisa Chacour’s family was forced to take refuge in the neighboring village of Jish after Bir’im was occupied by occupying forces for Israeli independence. Chacour and his family became Israeli citizens in 1948, shortly after the establishment of the Israeli state.
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. In 2001 Chacour was named “Man of the Year” in Israel. Chacour is the author of two best selling books, Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land.
The play was co-sponsored by “Pilgrims of Ibillin,” and “The Crossing,” an interfaith campus ministry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which also provided the venue. Members of “The Crossing” have supported Chacour’s work and the Pilgrims of Ibillin for more than a decade. See crossingministries.org/.
Further background on the show was provided on WORT’s A Public Affair (hosted by videographer John Quinlan) the previous Monday. That show is archived at wortfm.org/we-belong-to-the-land/ .
For more information, please go to pilgrimsofibillin.org or contact Programs of Ibillin Executive Director Joan Deming at 608-235-1046 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .