100 years ago today, Menachen Begin, the sixth Prime Minister of the State of Israel, was born in the Russia-n city of Brest, near the Polish border. He was elected Prime Minister in 1977, and in 1979 he signed a peace treaty with Egypt for which he and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat were award the Nobel Peace Prize. History since then has shown that peace in the Middle East is a tenuous and elusive thing, approached and abandoned many times over the years. In 1980, Begin gave a speech at the graveside of Jewish leader Ze-ev Jabotinsky, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birthday. In that speech he said, "We believe that a day will come when the two parts of the Land of Israel shall establish, peacefully, in agreement and understanding a covenant of alliance, a free confederation, for the purpose of joint cooperation". Begin died in 1992, without seeing the peace that he believed in come to the Middle East. The resumption of talks was highlighted recently when US Secretary of State John Kerry announced a nine-month period of formal negotiations. Despite President Obama’s assertion that there is "no shortage of passionate skeptics" when it comes to the Middle East negotiations, it may be that Menachem Begin’s hopes for peace and cooperation have a chance to become reality now, in 2013, in a world that bears so little resemblance to the one into which he was born 100 years ago.
God of nations, bring to the hearts and minds of those who are negotiating on in the Middle East, a true vision of your grace, a lasting and just legacy for all who have worked for peace and justice in that troubled region. Amen.