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Sam Bahour, Writer, businessman, activist. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/WCC

A “12 Faces of Hope” exhibition opened in Nottingham, UK, on 6 July in conjunction with the United Reformed Church (URC) General Assembly. The World Council of Churches (WCC) began its “12 Faces of Hope” Seek #JusticeAndPeace campaign last year, marking 50 years of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The exhibition is based on the faces, written and video testimonies of 12 Israeli and Palestinian people from different social and faith backgrounds. Its stories of struggle and hope demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit and the yearning for peaceful lives.

The exhibition was opened in Nottingham by Derek Estill just after his induction as moderator of the URC General Assembly. Unveiling the image of Sam Bahour on the stage of General Assembly, Mr Estill noted that he had met Mr Bahour – an American working in the area to try to bring more investment into Palestine – and that was why he has chosen this image to be on the stage.

Estill concluded: ‘Whatever your own perspective, I am sure that we, as the URC, want to be better informed so we can help where we think we can – to make a difference for the better.”

The diverse expressions of hope conveyed in the campaign aim to help raise awareness about the ongoing occupation and the ordinary lives caught up in it. Explaining WCC’s vision for the exhibition, Marianne Ejdersten, WCC director of communication, pointed to the importance of words and the way we tell our stories, which can either help bring peace closer or create huge barriers. Potentially, she said, “We are all peacemakers. Communication for just peace is all about our attitude.”

One of the people featured in the exhibition, Samar Hashweh, says in her testimony: “When I am in doubt about coping with hope I realise my grandmother’s steadfastness with my uncles, aunts and cousins, who are determined to embrace life and to celebrate it despite the acute darkness, frequent incursions and terrible life conditions in Gaza.”

Another, Michel Sabbah, says: “If we had no hope we would not live. Hope is life, and history gives us hope. What is right will prevail.”

Seek #JusticeAndPeace in the Holy Land

Faces of hope and moments of justice and peace (WCC news release of 25 July 2017)

The United Reformed Church