HEBRON: "Love is the Important Thing:" Wisdom from Yussef Al-Atrash
Sept. 26, 1998
CPT visited the Al-Atrash family with international friends from
Jerusalem Friday, September 18, the day 17-year-old Manel got home
from the hospital. Manel had been assaulted by Israeli soldiers two
days earlier. The family was still reeling from this latest attack
following the demolition of their home twice in the last seven
When we arrived, father Yussef was not speaking, but toward the end
of our visit he began to share. Kathy Kapenga wrote down what she
remembered from the conversation and passed it on to CPT this week:
"Love is the most important thing. As I watch Lori and Pierre
[Shantz] play with the children, I think that this is how it should
be, Christians and Muslims together, Jews and Muslims together. When
my children grow up it is this they will remember, this love. [Hayes
is an art teacher at a Palestinian elementary school in Jerusalem.]
In the end we all die. I might die the day after I build my house.
Why should we spend the time we have killing and harming each other?
Our religions forbid killing, but we have all tampered with the
meaning. In Islam, killing is forbidden except in self-defense; the
Prophet Muhammad ordered his army to kill only those men with swords
in their hands.
Once people brought some Muslims before an old Christian king, saying
that they had slandered Mary, the mother of Jesus. He questioned them
but found they spoke reverently of her, that she was a virgin and
pure, and that Jesus had no father. The king lay a stick on the
ground, saying, This is how much difference there is between your
beliefs and mine: the thickness of a stick. You are welcome to live
in this land.'"
Yussef ended the conversation by saying, "I have hope. When you came
today, I was feeling very badly, but this love is the important
1 Corinthians 13: 8, 13 "Love never ends. But as for prophesies,
they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for
knowledge, it will come to an end. . . .faith, hope, and love abide,
these three; and the greatest of these is love."