Israeli President says “A society without forgiveness is not a humane society.”

The Jerusalem Post, Jerusalem, Israel – The Ofek detention center at Sharon Prison is Israel’s only detention facility for offenders under the age of 18. Now, thanks to the incorporation of forgiveness and repentence, the center is touting its successful rehabilitation strategy.

Treatment staff at Ofek uses creative treatment methods, that include animals, soccer games, scout activities, and a full day of studies that focus on both forgiveness and repentence. The goal of the methods is to help these adolescents rehabilitate themselves and to prepare them for life outside prison. And the methods seem to be working to a very great extenisrael-prisoners3t.

At a recent “celebratory seminar” held at the home of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, three boys from bad neighborhoods and poor families spoke of how someone suddenly taking interest in them, and noticing them and their needs, had made each of them rethink his options for the future.

They said they regard Ofek as more of a school than a detention center, and they are grateful to their teachers and social workers for their patience and faith in them, and for instilling them with hope and motivation. For those imprisoned with minimal schooling, Ofek staff helps them complete high israel-prisonersschool.

President Rivlin observed that while the concept of forgiveness is wonderful, it is not easy to ask for forgiveness, nor is it always easy to forgive. “And yet, a society without forgiveness is not a humane society,” he said. “It is a society in which we are doomed to be forever chained to the past, without the possibility of looking to the future.”

Youth justice policy in Israel is a problem-solving, individual-treatment, adopting welfare model. While in many Western countries juvenile justice has moved from a welfare approach to a punitive model, policies in Israel have modified and changed while retaining the traditional view that juvenile delinquents are to be treated and rehabilitated rather than punished.

On page 39 of your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, you say, “Forgiveness is free, trust must be earned.” Doesn’t forgiveness come with a cost? It is hard work. How is it “free”?

Forgiveness is free in that the one who forgives may do so unconditionally whenever he or she is ready.  There is no need for the offending person to apologize or to make recompense of some kind before you allow yourself to forgive.  If you had to wait for the other to show remorse or to say certain words, then forgiveness is not freely given…….and then you are trapped in unforgiveness until others decide to do what you think they need to do to set you free.  Is this not another injustice against you?  You are bound in unforgiveness until the other lets you out of that cage of resentment.  So, you are right that forgiveness is hard work and that is the “cost” to which you refer, but forgiveness is “free” in that you may do so when you are ready.

Forgiveness Crucial to Middle East Peace

Catholic News Agency (CNA/EWTN News) New York City, N.Y. – Christianity is at a crossroads in the Middle East, and only a dedicated campaign of aid and activism can help Christians survive as a merciful, forgiving influence in the region, according to the head of the Knights of Columbus.

“Either Christianity will survive and offer a witness of forgiveness, charity and mercy, or it will disappear, impoverishing the region religiously, ethnically and culturally,” Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight and CEO of the Knights of Columbus, said Oct. 12.

Supreme Knight Dr. Carl A. Anderson, The Knights of Columbus –  Source: Peter Zelasko/CNA

Anderson’s remarks came at the awards banquet for the Path to Peace Award. The Knights of Columbus received the award in recognition of its work in the Middle East and its humanitarian work throughout the world.The Knights’ support campaign began in 2014, raising millions of dollars for Christians and other minorities suffering from war or persecution in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Syria.

Anderson said Christians have lived “heroically” in the Middle East for 2,000 years. “This is the history of Christians indigenous to the Middle East. They forgive, and by doing so they open the path to peace,” the Supreme Knight continued. “Today, they have given up everything but their faith, for their faith. But even having lost so much, they have given a great gift, to their fellow citizens and to the world. The gift they have given is the example of forgiveness and mercy – the fundamental building blocks of peace.”

Previous recipients of the Path to Peace Awardpath-to-peace2 include U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former President Corazon C. Aquino of the Philippines, and former President Lech Walesa of Poland. The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternity, has about 1.9 million members worldwide. The Knights’ relief fund for Middle East Christians and other minorities is accepting donations through its webpage at

Do you think that much of the bullying in school stems from a past experience of being bullied? For example, a 5th grade boy bullies a 2nd grade boy because the former was bullied at that age?

I am not sure that the reason for bullying gets so precise that a person bullies another based on the year in which he first was bullied.  Yet, it is our hypothesis that many of those who bully have experienced such unfair treatment by someone (or more than one person) that they are very angry.  Their anger, from past hurts against them, now is displaced onto unsuspecting others in their lives.  A son who is treated cruelly by his father, for example, may bring his pent-up anger to school and start to exhibit bullying behavior.  He needs to forgive his father if his bullying is to stop.

Leaving a Legacy of Love in the World

Think about this: Long after you are gone, your love could be alive and well and living on this earth in the minds, hearts, and beings of others. You can begin to leave a legacy of love by how you live this very day. In all likelihood, you will meet others today. If your heart is filled with love rather than with bitterness, it will be much easier to pass that love to legacy-of-loveothers. Do you see why it is so important to forgive? You are given the joyous opportunity to shed bitterness and put love in its place for the one who hurt you and then more widely to many, many others, as you are freed to love more deeply and more widely. The meaning and purpose of your life are intimately tied to this decision to leave a legacy of love.

Enright, Robert (2015-09-28). 8 Keys to Forgiveness (8 Keys to Mental Health) (p. 225). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

The Culture of Playing Pretend

While watching a college football game yesterday, I began to focus on the commercials.  One showed a confident, strutting person, who seemed to have it “all together,” climb into a car, pet the steering wheel as if some kind of spiritual height had been reached, and the message was delivered to the viewer: If you want to be “all together,” if you want to reach the spiritual heights, you must—-must, with no exceptions—desire this car, covet this car, go into debt to buy this car.  This car is your life!

Then there was a video of some kind of bun with melted cheese and bacon on it.  The cheese was bubbly, the bacon sizzling and crisp.  The cheeseburgervideo was in slow motion as camera panned ever closer to the heavenly bun.  You must—-must—-desire this confection, covet it, go into dietary debt to buy it.  This bun is your life!

And we almost insist that the sellers make such commercials before we buy.  Go ahead, trick me first and then I will buy.  Create the fantasy.  I live for fantasy.  Fantasy is my life!

And so it goes.  I began to wonder.  Have we created a world of fantasy, not only in books or films but also in our-everyday-life-as-a-lived-fantasy?  Go ahead, trick me.  And so, do we do this with regard to the injustices of life now?  Do we deny serious wrongdoing as we go about filling our pain with the bun or even, on rare occasion, with the new car?  I am not all that hurt…, really……pass the buns.

Do we also engage in the opposite of this?  Do some create false injustices and play the role of victim to garner sympathy………and power?  After all, if in the world of fantasy, I can falsely accuse you of harming me and you falsely believe it, then I am controlling your behavior.  I win……at least temporarily in the world of fantasy.

fantasySuch fantastic fantasy, I think, keeps us from forgiving.  On the one hand, as we deny that we are in pain, then there is no one to forgive.  As we deny that others are manipulating us by playing the victim card and controlling our behavior, then there is no injustice to stand against, to correct, to courageously confront with the truth.  There is no one to forgive.

Oh well, this is all too strenuous for me anyway.  Perhaps I am wrong.  If you have the time, would you please pass that bubbling bun?


I have gone through the forgiveness process now a few times with the one who has hurt me and I still have anger left over. It is not as intense as before, but there is anger left over. I am worried that I am not really forgiving. Can you help me with some insights here?

We often find that as people forgive there is anger left over.  As you point out, that anger is diminished; it does not control you.  Please keep in mind that having some residual anger is normal and so you can have confidence that you, indeed, are forgiving when you are wishing the other person well and you can do so with much less anger than before.