12 February 2010
The winter months have been busy here at Musalaha. I just returned from a very successful trip to the United States for the Mid Winter Covenant Conference, and I am leaving again later this month for the U.S. where I will be speaking at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University and in Canada at Prairie Bible Institute. I will also share with a number of churches in North Carolina and at Duke University. Please keep me in your prayers while I am travelling, February 13-22, especially in light of the snowstorms and bad weather.
We are also coming back into the office fresh off our Staff and Board Retreat, which took place last week at Ein Bokeq at the Dead Sea. It was a wonderful time of relaxation and fellowship, as well as team-building. It was great to see how big the Musalaha family is getting; we were nearly 60 people. We had a lecture from Prof. Gabriel Horencyzk from the Hebrew University, on Identity and Strategies for Reconciliation. It was a very interesting lecture, and I will probably be writing more about it later, but I wanted to share with you one very encouraging bit from it.
Prof. Horencyzk spoke about the Contact Hypothesis, which basically states that since prejudice and discrimination come about as the result of negative contact, or a lack of contact, these negative effects can be countered by positive contact. A study was done in order to test this theory, and it investigated 200 other studies from across the world which were engaged in contact between different groups to see if the contact made any difference. The results were positive, “face-to-face interaction between members of distinguishable groups reduces prejudice, measured in a variety of ways. Furthermore, they suggest that there is evidence that the benefits of contact can be extended beyond the participants of particular interactions to the whole outgroup.” This is a wonderful affirmation of the type of encounter projects Musalaha does. It is easy to be discouraged; reconciliation is a long, difficult process and our conflict is intractable, violent, and there are no signs of its resolution in the near future. But we can make a difference, we are making a difference. Having Israelis and Palestinians meet with each other and develop personal relationships with each other can change hearts and attitudes. It also makes waves among their families and in their home communities, when they go home they influence others. We already knew this, we have seen in our own lives and in the lives of countless others, but it is nice to see it confirmed by the academic world. It was certainly encouraging for us, and I hope it is for you as well.
Thank you all and God bless,
Salim J. Munayer Ph.D.
Salim’s Travel Itinerary and Contact Information:
Feb. 14-15, near Mt. Vernon, OH. Contact Rick Williamson, [email protected]
Feb. 16-18 Alberta, Canada. Bradley Leenstra, [email protected]
Feb 19-21 Raleigh, NC. Contact Betty Edwards: [email protected]
Please pray for Salim as he travels to the United States and to Canada. The weather has been so severe that many airports have been closed and his schedule is very tightly organized. Delays would be very problematic. Also pray that God will speak through him into the hearts of the people he speaks with.
The new Woman’s Group has a follow up meeting this weekend, where they will discuss the topic of identity. Please pray for Louise, the head of our Women’s Department, as she is preparing for it, and that the women will continue to grow closer to God and closer to each other, and come to see each other as sisters in the Messiah.
Shadia, our Galilee Youth Co-ordinator, is busy preparing for the first Youth Leadership Training in the Galilee which will take place at the end of February. Please keep her in your prayers as she handles the whole project, from recruiting and planning to the logistics.
The Publications Department has also been busy working on a number of writing projects. We are making real progress with the second edition of The Bible and the Land, and are also nearly finished with a book of different narratives about past Musalaha participants by Jonathan McRay. This is a very exciting project that we hope to publish soon. Please pray for both of these projects, that we will have the strength to finish them and that we will be able to find a publisher for both of them.
Salim J. Munayer, Ph.D.
Director of Musalaha