On Thursday night, Awad presented a brief history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the challenges and opportunities it poses for Americans at the First United Methodist Church in Shadyside. He has been a United Methodist missionary since 1994.
A professor at Bethlehem Bible College,Awad serves as pastor of the East Jerusalem Baptist Church.
Awad, who was born and raised in Jerusalem, knows about the brutality of war. His father was killed in 1948 during crossfire between Israeli and Jordanian armies, leaving his mother with seven children.
"My mother had to work and send us to boarding schools to keep us from the refugee camps," he said.
Eventually, Awad attended Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., where he received a bachelor of arts degree in biblical education and a bachelor of science in secondary education. He also received advanced degrees from North Georgia University Asbury Technological Seminary. He returned to Israel because he felt there was a greater need there.
In Israel, Awad said, Muslims and Christians share the same problems. "They feel like they have the same enemy. A lot of land was confiscated from both."
One of these problems is the belief that the United States favors Israel in political decisions.
"The Iraqi war and September 11 ? these things don't happen in a vacuum," Awad explained. "There is a lot of outrage as a result of foreign policy."
While most Muslims feel this sentiment, Awad said only radical factions resort to violence and terrorism. "Most Palestinians are smart enough to know the difference between Americans and American foreign policy."
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