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Scotty McLennan and Hebron

The WAIS phoenix thanks Scotty McLennan, Dean of Religious Life at Stanford, for his contribution to the WAIS survival fund. Scotty is a Universalist Unitarian, which means that he view all religions as paths to holiness, and he tries to understand them all. He chaired the WAIS globalization conference session on religion as a cause of war. The panel, representing different faiths, was polite and even friendly, but the subject was clearly a very sensitive one.

That brings us to Hebron, south of Jerusalem. Why Hebron? The Stanford Daily ran this week an interesting letter from a graduate student who recently went there to make a study of it. His letter warned that war could break out there because of Jewish settlements being built with the help of subsidies from the US. I visited Hebron when it was a peaceful Palestine town. It is sacred to Jews and Muslims because the Cave of Machpelah, now enclosed by a mosque, is the traditional burial site of the family of Abraham. The Jews and the Muslims prayed there at different hours.

There is more to it than that, as became apparent to me when I was listening to mass from the Cathedral of San Fernando in San Antonio, Texas. The reading from the Old Testament was about the way the Jews went to Hebron and asked David to be their king. It was his capital for seven years, one more reason why it is one of the four holy cities of Judaism. Being a holy city is a curse. God (in the form of an earthquake) destroyed the old temple of Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion. The very stones of Abraham's tomb are crying out for the Jews and Muslims in Hebron to live together in peace. Men of both faiths are stone-deaf. Will another earthquake destroy the Hebron shrine? Let us ask WAIS board member Amos Nur, an authority on earthquakes in the area.

Ronald Hilton - 11/28/01