Amazing. As Father Jamal continued to talk about the students and faculty of Bethlehem University and the encounter of 'the other,' it was an applied hope that was articulated in the fact that there was not just tolerance. Tolerance is literally tolerating or putting up with someone who is different than 'us.' No, Father Jamal expressed that in the university, in Bethlehem, smack dab in the middle of the Middle East, there was a place of peace and acceptance. Acceptance is accepting people for who they are rather than trying to convert them to who we are or to our ideas. It is a respect for the person that God has created them to be and accepting the person, regardless of affiliation to religion, ideology and politics. And all the while this is happening, there is a huge wall that stands as a reminder that there is a third group not present; the Jews. Father Jamal answered this question quite quickly - because they are not allowed. Notkept out but they are not allowed by the Israeli government. That too is a constant reminder of who is not yet part of this dialogue and experience of peace and acceptance.
On a lighter note; when Father Jamal was asked if the nuns at the university wore veils to cover their heads; his response was - "you have nuns who are not covered?" I was so honored to be a part of this conversation and the hope for further peace and understanding helps me cling to the promises of peace from the God we worship.