Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper. In 2012, Megan and Grace Phelps-Roper chose to leave the Westboro Baptist Church, the fundamentalist church led by their grandfather and composed primarily of family members, in which the two sisters had spent their entire lives. Westboro is notorious for staging thousands of protests condemning gays and Jews, with signs such as “God Hates Fags” and “Jews Killed Jesus,” and for picketing the funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unable to continue to follow the doctrines of their church, Megan and Grace left Westboro, knowing that their family would never see or speak to them again. For the past three years, Megan and Grace have dedicated themselves to forging relationships with the communities they once condemned.
General (Ret.) Mansour Abu Rashid. At least twice a year for 15 years, a group of retired Jordanian and Israeli generals meets to discuss how to bring the peoples of their two countries closer together. During the Six-Day War, Mansour Abu Rashid, the founder of the Generals Forum, was an infantry platoon leader who fought Israel in the streets of Jerusalem, where many on both sides fell and Mansour was captured and held until he managed to escape. In the years that followed, he rose through the ranks to become General Director of the Intelligence Department for the Royal Jordanian Armed Forces. But when he retired in 1999, he did something unexpected. He founded the Amman Center for Peace and Development, whose goal is to bring together the people of the Middle East and, above all, Jordanians and Israelis. As a result of his efforts to build relations between Israel and Jordan, General Mansour became a target of extremists, who stormed the Amman Center hoping to intimidate and silence the voice of co-existence.
Ambassador Jakob Finci. Jakob Finci’s family came to Sarajevo in the 16th century, after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. He was born in 1943, shortly after his parents were liberated from an Italian detention camp. During the Bosnian War (1992-95), he headed La Benevolencija, a Jewish communal organization that gave humanitarian aid to Muslims, Croats, and Serbs during the siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces. His efforts helped to save more than a thousand Muslims by providing documents which enabled them to pass as Jews. He was elected to serve as the first President of the Jewish Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina and chaired the effort to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in that country following the Bosnian War.
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