Salam Dabah is a Muslim from Palestine. Her best friend is a Christian from Israel. They met two years ago at school. ?Yeah, we're the best friends. We're like sisters. I didn't even know that she's Muslim. We don't care about this at all,? said Randa Fakhoury.
These young women exemplify the mission of the new Mar Elias University in Galilee, Israel, a branch of the University of Indianapolis. ?Our vision is to be a bridge between the community inside Israel, between our brother the Jewish and our brother, the Muslims,? said Dr. Raed Mualem, Mar Elias vice president.
Mar Elias was founded by the Reverend Elias Chacour. He is an Israeli citizen, a Palestinian and a Catholic priest.
Reverend Elias was nominated three times for a Nobel peace prize. When he wanted to expand his dream of peace and reconciliation through higher education, he sought the help of the University of Indianapolis.
?The Middle East is important. There is a lot of conflict and this is an opportunity to bring the students here. We hope that we're developing future leaders for the Middle East,? said Mimi Chase, University of Indianapolis.
By design there are more female than male students at Mar Elias. ?We believe that democracy in the Middle East will pass through the liberation of the female - empowering the female to be leadership, not to just to have the baby,? said Dr. Mualem.
?You know, in the Arabic culture, the woman was less than the man but now it's better and I hope that we will get better and better,? said Fakhoury.
The students are going to have very heavy academic schedules while they're here but they're also going to be exposed to lots of culture. It started last night with a visit to Conner Prairie.
In Indianapolis and in Israel, faculty believe they are helping unlock the door to world peace. ?In this way, we are making the peace based on love, forgiveness, justice and freedom,? said Dr. Mualem.
According to Israeli law, for the university to be accredited, thirty percent of the faculty there must be from the University of Indianapolis. U of I has been raising money for this partnership from local churches, community organizations and businesses.
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