FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Achieving peace in the Middle East. That's the goal of a Jewish Rabbi visiting Fort Wayne Wednesday.
Rabbi Arik Ascherman, who serves as the Executive Director of Rabbis For Human Rights, has been awarded the Ghandi Peace Award.
Ascherman spent Wednesday in Fort Wayne, ending with a lecture at Plymouth Congregational Church.
The lecture, which more than 100 people attended, was hosted by the Indiana Center For Middle East Peace.
Ascherman says his first mandate is to prevent human rights abuses. His second mandate, especially to Israelis, is explaining how the Jewish faith proves every human being, regardless of religion, is created in God's image. His third mandate, pertains to Palestinians.
He's working to breakdown stereotypes and rekindle hope for peace in the Middle East.
He says that Israelis have to work with Palestinian leaders who want peace. His vision is creating a coalition of hope so the two nations can co-exist.
"On one hand we may be concerned about the radicalizing affect of having Hamas in unity government. Where as obviously, it's very problematic that Hamas is still officially dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel," said Rabbi Arik Ascherman.
That was Ascherman's reaction to Wednesday's news of Fatah and Hamas signing a joint government agreement.
That reconciliation agreement ended a four-year, often bloody feud.
Fatah has been in control of the West Bank.
Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, has been in strict control of the Gaza Strip.
Israel political leaders are not happy about the partnership.
However, Ascherman believes that is what peace is about.
“If you really want peace, you don't make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies,” continued Ascherman. “As we say in one of our Holy Books Pirkei Avot, who is truly mighty, the person that turns an enemy into a friend.”
Ascherman explained that peace may only come from a united Palestinian society.
He said a unified government with Hamas and Fatah, can negotiate an agreement together with Israel, without either side undermining the peace process.
Meanwhile, Ascherman's lecture touched on many subjects but highlighted human rights issues that Israeli Jewish people and non-Jewish people have in common.
Ascherman said education, poverty, unemployment and housing issues plague both sides.
He proclaimed that he is famous and infamous, for standing up for Palestinian human rights.
Especially, when Palestinian homes are bulldozed, without proper zoning permits.
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