Rev. Patrick McCollum meets with prominent Middle Eastern leaders and participates in Arab – Israeli dialogues toward peace in Palestine and the Middle East.
July 27, 2011 Amman, Jordan:
Rev. Patrick McCollum had the rare opportunity to meet with His Excellency, Taher Al Masri, President of the Jordanian Senate and former Jordanian Prime Minister at his home in Amman, Jordan. The meeting took place at the end of weeklong dialogues with youth and adults from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and other countries, for which Patrick served as one of the speakers and dialogue facilitators.
“His Excellency was very gracious in his invitation to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed our discussions. Over the course of the evening, we touched on US-Arab relations, the Palestinian–Israeli conflict, the part youth has played in the Arab Spring revolutions and beyond, and new ways to move forward toward peace.”
Rev. McCollum & His Excellency, Taher Al Masri
Patrick also had the honor to meet with a prominent member of the Royal Family, His Grace, Sharif Zaid Bin Hussein, the cousin of King Hussein the II. Sharif Zaid Bin Hussein has played numerous roles in Middle Eastern–Western negotiations and in the Palestinian–Israeli issue for many years.
Patrick has expressed hopeful optimism following the talks, crediting both Israeli and Arab participants for reaching across boundaries of difference and being willing to stay at the table.
“In particular, I would like to commend the Arab youth and the Israelis for being willing to address the difficult issues, and for their willingness to continue discussions even after heated and often uncomfortable debates. It is clear to me that the younger generation in particular, has a clearer vision of what it means to be a global citizen, and it is this shift, in my opinion, that gives us hope for a better future.”
Future talks are on the horizon, and Patrick will continue to be involved.
“I can see the importance of continued talks, and discussions are already in place to move forward in that direction. It is clear to me that I will return once again to the Middle East, not only to Jordan, but also to visit Palestine and Israel. And I look forward to once again to be present in the company of the many new friends I’ve made in each of these countries. I firmly believe that drawing on the touchstone of our common humanity, rather than focusing on the age-old narrative of our geographical and cultural differences, is the key to world peace.”
Patrick also had the opportunity to visit the outlying areas of Jordan to meet the people and learn their culture.
“We’re really all the same when you get down to it. We have the same needs and share many similarities. For example, I met a man out in the desert who loves music and plays his native version of a violin. I’m an Irish fiddler, so we traded songs and started from there. His main concerns are an education for his daughter and peace in the Middle East.”
Patrick also had the opportunity to view some of the world’s most sacred sites, including Petra, Mt. Nebo, and the site of Christ’s baptism.