In November, 1977, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt was invited to address the Israeli Knesset. In his address, he said that ‘amidst the ruins of what man has built and the remains of the victims of mankind, there emerges neither victor nor vanquished. The only vanquished remains man, God’s most sublime creation.’ Sadat called for people to ‘stand together with … courage and boldness to erect a huge edifice of peace that … would be a beacon for generations to come.’ Why, he asked, ‘should we bequeath to the coming generations the plight of bloodshed, death, orphans, widowhood, family disintegration, and the wailing of victims?’
That edifice of peace has not yet been built. Still the people of the Middle East are tormented by violence, yet they’re also giving birth to fragile visions of freedom and hope. This requires great courage, for those who seek peace often become victims themselves. Sadat was assassinated by extremists in the Egyptian military on 6th October, 1981. Today is the thirty first anniversary of his death.
Sadat exhorted people who are victims of violence to become those who fill the earth with peace. Let me finish with his words: ‘You, bewailing mother; you, widowed wife; you, the son who lost a brother or a father; you, all victims of war – fill the earth and space with recitals of peace. ... Turn the song into a reality that blossoms and lives. Make hope a code of conduct and endeavour. The will of peoples is part of the will of God.’