The Words of the Jenkins Family

Greetings From Jerusalem - 2

Michael Jenkins
May 12, 2005

Dear Family,

Our conference continued on Wednesday with the session on IIFWP and Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI). Mrs. Karen Smith, director of the UN office for IIFWP, gave a significant overview presentation on the work and the underlying values and principles behind IIFWP, presenting aspects of faith and the centrality of the family in a fresh and creative way. Showing how our value systems must be strengthened in the family, she explained that those values must extend to bringing good governance to our communities, nations, and the United Nations. She presented realistic and concrete steps that have been taken in that direction by the IIFWP, as well as the significance of the vision and contributions of Rev. and Mrs. Moon.

The professors, scholars, and religious leaders in the audience are looking for a more in-depth understanding at this time. Many of them have become Ambassadors for Peace (AFP) over the last couple of years; through Karenís presentation they could see the vision of IIFWP to truly create a culture of peace not simply in theory but in reality. Now they can realize that the AFP that have been participating with IIFWP throughout the world are the very ambassadors who will make this vision real. Her presentation helped the AFP deepen their confidence in the ongoing worldwide development of peace councils composed of all nations, races, and religions -- of people who are practicing reconciliation and building a culture of peace.

In an overview I presented of the MEPI, I described a pattern of growth and development through the 30 IIFWP events, conferences and pilgrimages. Starting in May 2003 the first group of religious leaders came to the Holy Land with a heart of reconciliation under Father Moonís guidance. They were asked to repent as Christians for the history of anti-Semitism and to end the era of the cross, proclaiming the time has come to embrace one another. (One of the participants, Dr. Zamoran, head of the Robert Schumann Center for Dialogue in Luxembourg, said that this trend of repentance is a fundamental pattern that is now being seen throughout the world.) Well received by Jewish and Muslim leaders, this very first journey opened the door for the Jerusalem Declaration, which was an incredible step forward.

The most interesting thing about the MEPI is that itís simply based on various journeys by approximately 10,000 religious leaders, members of Parliament, NGO leaders and professionals throughout the world who came over the last two years. We have heard many from Israel testify that these continuous journeys to the Holy Land are truly bringing an atmospheric change in peopleís feeling. What was deemed impossible before is now being seen as possible.

Over lunch Father Hatoum summed up the MEPI work in his gratitude for IIFWP and for Father Moon. He said, "Without this stimulus from outside we would never be able to truly achieve peace, but now I can see peace like a light that is coming over the hill. Peace is coming to the Middle East and we can see itís because Father Moon has been guided by God to push us to seek peace, to not allow us to rest or hesitate. All parties Ė Jewish, Muslim and Christian Ė are feeling the desire to seek peace actively. The key to Father Moonís teaching is very simple Ė we donít talk about peace; we do the peace."

At the Seven Arches hotel we could enjoy a beautiful luncheon with our participants. From this vantage point on the Mount of Olives you can see the old city of Jerusalem, gazing at the Eastern Wall and the Golden Gate that one day is to open when the messiah returns. The Dome of the Rock shines almost like a golden diamond in the center of the Old City.

Several people asked to give testimony. Mr. Rony Wuulf Smolar has been a journalist for many years and has covered the Middle East quite extensively. In the work of IIFWP he saw one of the components that was most needed Ė that is, the kind of supportive encouragement needed from beyond the Israelis and Palestinians. "Encouragement and enlightened support is now coming and therefore I can see the peace process moving forward. Iím deeply happy to see this."

Mrs. Neilson, wife of Cong. Neilson, shared about how she had lived on kibbutzes many years ago and saw with her own eyes that there was no problem for the Jews and Arabs to live together, heart to heart, people to people. She said, I saw Arabs freely come and work together with us, and we would freely go and help them in their village. My former husband was a dentist and we were welcomed everywhere. Even though many were poor, Jews and Arabs had such a family spirit. I was so sad to see this family become divided by fear and conflict. They already had common culture and common values. It seems that politics has not been able to allow for that kind of relationship. Therefore, she said, I see now through this movement that those doors are opening once again to create the structure and environment, or culture that will allow what I saw on the kibbutzes years ago where people would constantly help people.

Our next stop was at the separation wall. This time we encouraged everybody to simply gather in silence. We heard views on both side about the wall, but it is most powerful when you see it. As Dr. Yang said in his keynote address, it underscores the urgency of the need for our effort to bring reconciliation between hearts because the wall certainly is an effort of last resort by people who have no hope for dialogue. Archbishop Stallings led us in prayer at the wall and people were encouraged to be open and draw their own conclusions. Our hope is that we can bring such reconciliation and peace that the walls Ė physical and between peoples hearts Ė will be dissolved.

Next we went on to Yad Vashem, very significant for me in that a new museum has just opened we had never been to before. Always this has been a key stop because it sends a message that our work for peace is seeking to understand the tragedies of the past, and the underpinnings of much of the spirit of bewilderment, anger, sadness and hopelessness that the Jewish people have always felt in relationship to the Holocaust. There are no words that can describe the immense suffering that is captured in that museum. We are also there to comfort survivors and those who lost their lives and those who descended from them, that we might be able to bring hope at last that there is a deeper understanding in humanity that this can never be allowed to occur again.

The museum gives an historical perspective on how a climate of anti-Semitism grew over the centuries and how this all came to a pinnacle through the rise of the Third Reich with its racist philosophy of the supreme Aryan race. Going through the museum with Mr. Baruch Shalev was a profound experience. My last trip through the museum was with Dr. Glaubach, who is a Holocaust survivor. It is truly overwhelming. This time Baruch shared the incredible despair that came over the people who thought they had "made it" in Germany society as doctors, lawyers. Many of the Jewish community had become very prominent and mingled socially with their German counterparts, feeling that more than anywhere else in the world they finally had been accepted and understood and had their place in society. Baruch explained, you canít imagine the horror of the people who thought that they had truly become integral to German society when those very colleagues and friends watched the Jews bei ng pushed from their homes into ghettoes and finally, under the guise of "relocation," sent off to death camps.

On one wall is inscribed a quote by German theologian Richard Niemoller: "First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."

Therefore, part of IIFWP MEPI experience is to bond with the heart of the suffering that has occurred through religious intolerance and racial hatred, and to bring all of Godís people together so that we will never stand by silently. If any member of our family is mistreated, we also can now affirm, never again.


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