Interfaith Peacebuilding


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Interfaith Programs

Bringing the UPF Vision to a Druze Annual Gathering

The Druze celebration in honor of the prophet Shu’eib on April 25, 2008 offered an opportunity to promote the interfaith vision of this year’s Global Peace Festival in Israel.

Nebi [prophet] Shu'eib is identified with the biblical Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. He is revered as the chief Druze prophet, and his tomb near Tiberias overlooking the Sea of Galilee is the site of an annual gathering of many of the approximately 120,000 Druze living in Israel.

In planning the gathering, we held several consultations with Ambassador for Peace Sheik Ali Birani and other key Druze leaders: Sheik Taufik Salame, Mr. Yakub Salame, and Sheik Samih Natur.

On April 25, about 10,000 people gathered in front of the main stage, and throughout the entire period about 30,000 people passed through the area to pay their respects. Our delegation from Jerusalem included the UPF Regional Chair Dr. Sang Jin Lee and UPF-Israel Chair Dr. Masatoshi Abe. Key Muslim and Christian leaders were present to honor the occasion.

Upon arriving at Nebi Shu’eib’s tomb we offered our prayers and right after that met several of the Druze leaders. We were warmly welcomed by Sheik Taufik Salame, who prepared an extraordinary meal for us. Many of the senior sheiks gathered around us, and we had an inspiring discussion about the Global Peace Festival as a celebration of life promoting strong families, service to others, and interreligious harmony. We explored some of the similarities between the Druze tradition and what the UPF is trying to accomplish. I talked about the vision of spiritual leaders playing significant roles in promoting peace and good governance.

At the podium, various political and religious speakers offered greetings. Dr. Masatoshi Abe offered greetings on behalf of Father and Mother Moon and a prayer of blessing for those assembled. Then the spiritual leader of the Druze, Sheik Moafak Tarif, gave the main holiday address, followed by greetings from the president of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres.

After the public gathering, we met with several Knesset members, one government minister, and Israel’s president, introducing ourselves and the work of UPF.

A grand feast featured delicious foods from the different villages from around the country. Each village and family sent homemade foods which were very unique and colorful. People shared happily with one another.

We were able to meet many of the Druze sheiks who attended the International Leadership Conference in Tiberias in October 2007. They expressed their desire to continue the interaction and further explore spiritual and family values. We then went to Sheik Ali Birani’s home at Daliat El Carmel and spent time reflecting about the event.

Editor’s Note: According to Druze tradition, the Kurdish Muslim leader Salah ad-Din [Saladin] had a dream on the eve of his battle against the Crusaders on July 4, 1187, in which an angel promised him victory on condition that after the battle he gallop westward on his horse. Where the stallion would pull up, the angel promised, he would find the burial site of Nebi Shu’eib. The dream came true, and the battle was the turning point in driving back the Crusaders. The Druze built a tomb at the site, and next to it is a rock bearing a footprint believed to be that of Nebi Shu’eib. The Druze are a religious community; the majority of them live in Lebanon, Israel, and Syria, where they are officially recognized as a separate religious community with its own religious court system.

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