"... Esau ran to meet him, and put his arms around him, and they wept..."            
Reconciliation:  A space where mercy and forgiveness meet

Notes on the Mural of Forgiveness
by the Artist, Diane Roe

Mural Left Mural Center  Mural Right
In the summer of 2000 I visited Ibillin and saw the opportunity to paint a unique story of mercy and forgiveness on the wall of the yet to be constructed Niwano Peace Auditorium. On October 2, 2000 at home in New York I was stunned to hear of killing of Asel Asleh, an MEEI student and 13 others in Galilee. When I rejoined my CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams) colleagues in Hebron one week later I found myself in a war zone. The second Intifada had erupted. The images that burned themselves into my heart as I divided my time between Galilee, Hebron and the serene Finger Lakes region of New York became the figures in my first sketches. The last three years have been times of immense and terrible turmoil. The storm still rages but many people of Israel and Palestine as well as from countries world-wide are transcending the fury and creating beautiful new realities.

Many will remain unsung and unseen, but all are represented by the faces you see before you in the mural. The scene has been greatly shaped by my experience of living in Hebron and traveling back and forth across the country to Galilee. I wanted to carry the friendship and faces from Hebron to Galilee and from Galilee to Hebron. I want you the people of Hebron to know that the children of Galilee know you and care about you. It is my privilege to know all of you. Thank you Abuna for trusting me to paint as I feel. I thank my CPT friends for listening to my dream and allowing me to paint them. They are a constant inspiration. I have prayed that this work will be a faithful witness of the vision of future peace. Blessings to all of you and know that I will return to see the vision unfolding and to hear many more of your stories.

Dianne Roe
March, 2004


FOOTWASHING – The foundation of the mural is an image of humility as the leader becomes the servant of the servant. Washing the feet of another is a symbol of acceptance, forgiveness and love that transforms all human relationships. We all stand in equality before the Servant Creator.

RABBI SULIMAN MANI – Sephardic Rabbi in Hebron pre 1929. Elijah Mani, his father, arrived in Hebron from Iraq in the early 1800’s. In recent years Hebron Palestinians have welcomed in their midst Yona Rochlin, the great grand-daughter of Rabbi Mani. Yona envisions a renewal of the peaceful relationships between the descendants of Muslims and those of the Jews of pre 1929 Hebron.

YUESEF SHARABATI – late father of Hebronite Affifa Sharabati. The Sharabati home was attacked many times by settlers and finally in July 2002 Affifa and her family were forced to leave their home. After the final attack the IDF declared it a closed military zone. Affifa teaches physics in a girls’ secondary school in Hebron. With Yona, she prays for peace.

“TOGETHER WE ARE STRONGER THAN THE STORM” – Only together, in accepting the diversity and difference of each other, can we survive the storms of oppression, discrimination and dispossession. The cycle of fear and violence, reaction and retaliation can be broken but we must hold hands together, Jews and Arabs, Christians, Muslims and Druze, in order to rebuild the broken relationships and wounded hearts.

SHEFA – a grandmother from Bethany. She holds her newest grandchild, Bashar, born in the spring of 2003. Shefa was a child when her family were forced to flee from Haifa in 1948. Behind her Jesus weeps over Jerusalem.

RONI HIRSHENZON – co-founder of The Parents’ Circle formed to support Israeli and Palestinian families who have suffered the loss of loved ones in the conflict. Roni has lost two sons. Amir was killed by a suicide bomber.  Five years later Elad committed suicide when his best friend was killed by another suicide attacker.

IM NIDAL – also a member of the Parents’ Circle. Her son, Nidal, was killed by Israeli soldiers in February 2002. He was at the calling hours for his cousin who had been killed just days earlier also by soldiers.

YUSEF BRIEGITH – named after his uncle who was killed in 2001, Yusef holds the cup of reconciliation. His father, Ghazi, represents the Palestinian families of The Parents’ Circle joining their Israeli partners in a sign of forgiveness and peace.

HEBRON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS – in January 2003 their university was closed by the Israeli military. Together with students from the nearby Polytechnic they asked CPT members to accompany them as they organized a non-violent initiative to reopen their university.

RABBIS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS – RHR, Ta’ayush, CPT and the Palestinian Land Defense Committee (LCD) joined together to deliver food and essential supplies to families in the southern Hebron district. The families’ homes were demolished by the army in July 2001.

AMOS GVIRTZ – a founder of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICADH) organized a group of Israelis and Internationals to rebuild the destroyed wells of families in the South Hebron hills.

MARY – a young woman from Nazareth was “great with child” when she traveled with her husband, Joseph down to Bethlehem. Today on that same road Mary would pass through many dirt barriers (machsomim) and check points. The women standing near the checkpoint as Mary approaches are from the Israeli Machsom Watch. When women and others are stopped by soldiers at the checkpoint, they try to provide accompaniment and comfort for the women.

MICHAEL & KUTOUB CHACOUR – the parents of Father Elias Chacour prepared to welcome Jewish refugees from war torn Europe to their village. In the summer of 1947 when Jewish refugees were stranded aboard the ship ‘Exodus’ in the Mediterranean, Palestinians were forced from their homes to make way for them. Father Chacour’s family were among those Palestinians who then became refugees in their own land. Their lives stand as a testimony of hope in the face of deep suffering.

BEIT ARABIYYA –  In the summer of 2003, hundreds of internationals with Jeff Halper joined Salim Shramweh in rebuilding his destroyed home. The rebuilt structure, named Beit Arabiyya in honor of Salim’s wife, is dedicated to all those killed in house demolitions.

CITY OF PEACE -  Jerusalem, Holy City for the believers of three monotheistic religious traditions, is a place heavy with history and profound meaning for all. Here a Muslim, a Christian and a Jew pray for Jerusalem.

HORI  KOSHI – a Japanese Buddhist monk who has walked for peace throughout the Middle East. His drum bears an inscription praying for world peace. The auditorium in which you stand was built with the Peace Prize awarded to Father Chacour by the Niwano Peace Foundation, a Buddhist organization in Japan.

YONATAN BEN ARTZI – the parents of refusenik, Yonatan, hold their son dear as one who rejects violence in any form. He was imprisoned in August 2002 as I began work on the mural. He remained in prison during the two years I worked.

CELEBRATING – an Israeli child and a Palestinian child share food together. In May 1999, they were at a party in ‘no man’s land’, the strip of land that separates the Palestinian village, Idna, from Israel. The children’s parents are members of the Rehovoth branch of Peace Now and their partners, a dialogue group from Idna and surrounding villages.

ANOTHER CELEBRATION – in April 2000 an Israeli court decision allowed Palestinian shepherds of South Hebron to return to their cave dwellings. To thank their international and Israeli friends who supported them in the court action they gave a party. Hagar Roublev and Liga celebrated together. A few month’s later as Hagar died of a heart attack, Liga’s home was once again under threatened.

AN UNBROKEN CIRCLE – “To clasp hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” (Karl Barth). The prayer circle forming the central focus of the mural was inspired by my experience in a Hebron orchard. The owner, a farmer from Beit Ummar, suffered the confiscation of his land as it was taken for a security zone for a nearby settlement. Hundreds more farmers had their land expropriated for the ‘security fence’ now being constructed by the Israeli Government. A non violent resistance has taken root in the prayer circle.

(clockwise from right of the Cross)

ASIL ASLEH – a twelfth grade student at MEEI, was killed by soldiers on October2, 2000 as he watched a Land Day march in his home village of Arrabe. Asil has been the guiding inspiration for the mural. Although I never met him, his message of active reconciliation will continue to inspire. The bridge spanning the mural reflects Asel’s encouragement to his fellow students to be ‘ a stone in the bridge of reconciliation’.  

GEORGE WEBER – my team mate in CPT died in a car accident in Iraq in January 2003. George was there to challenge the US government’s policy in waging war on Iraq.

SMADAR ELHANAN – a young Jewish girl who wrote and spoke for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. In 1997 at the age of 13,  she was killed by a suicide bomber. Her parents continue her message of peace through their action in The Parents’ Circle.

ASHRAF – a small boy in a striped shirt who lived by scavenging on the Yatta garbage dump for most of the summer of 2003.



RACHEL CORY – a 20 year old American college student who volunteered with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Her strong sense of justice was outraged by the Israeli Army’s actions in Gaza. She placed herself between a family home and the IDF bulldozer. The bulldozer did not stop. Rachel was crushed.

SYMBOLS – both divide and unite, include and exclude. The prayer circle contains and is contained within the intertwined Star of David, Ottoman Star (an ancient symbol found on many mosques) and the Cross. All three religious symbols are also reminders of the oppression of empires and the domination of conquerors. Those who challenge the systems of power, hegemony and injustice join hands in a circle of prayer.

CHURCH OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT –  the ultimate challenge for Christians is  to give their lives for those in need – the anayim of the Gospels. The storms of life are great and it is ordinary Christians who must ensure that the Light will always be a sign of hope.  On the steps of the Church we meet Father Chacour and the little refugee dog, Mumkin that seeks only affection. The children gather to greet to their uncle under the shadow of Ashraf the boy from the garbage dump. Everyday trials and treasures are part of each one’s life. Above all is the symbol of a hand always ready to shield the fragile light of the candle from a threatening storm.

A FESTIVAL OF LIGHT – the Hanukkah Candelabrum is a symbol of the Jewish celebration of high religious and human ideals. Those who exemplify these ideals today are those who work for the human and civil rights of all people. Near the branches of the candelabrum a women from Machsom Watch, members of the Rabbis for Human Rights and other Jewish human rights organizations. Their dedication keeps the flame of justice and hope burning.

BLOOD BROTHERS – after years of bitter estrangement two brothers met at the Jabbok river. Esau ran to greet his brother, embraced him and kissed him. Each saw in the other the ‘face of God’.  Their embrace fuels the light of the rising flame of the Christ candle and the central Hannukah candle. The holy name of God – Allah in Arabic – entwines the embracing brothers.  These twin grand children of Abraham are a symbol of the hope we have today for reconciliation between the ‘blood brothers’ of this land that is holy for all Arabs and Jews.