A few years ago, I helped bring a matched pair of children from the Middle East to Give Kids the World. Eight-year-old, Maataz Kishta came from the Palestine. Nine-year-old Chiam Salinas was from Israel.
Both boys were fighting cancer. Both had under gone a bone marrow transfer. Both faced long odds and were hoping for a miracle.
I met them at the airport in New York City. Almost by design, they seemed to come from different ends of the plane. Chiam arrived first, Maataz a few minutes later. They took positions on opposite sides of me while my translator helped me greet them and their escorts.
While we waited for the plane to Orlando, they kept as much distance between themselves as possible. Both wanted to know what we had planned for them, but each asked their questions independently. There was no direct communication. They could not avoid being close from time to time, but there was no connection between them.
A week later, after playing together, eating together, sharing rides, and experiencing the wonders of Orlando’s theme parks, they left as friends. Somehow along the way, they learned they had more than a disease and a desire to meet Mickey Mouse in common. They realized all they really wanted is what all children fundamentally want – the right to enjoy life and grow up in peace.
“This is the most beautiful thing,” Maataz’ father, Aatef, told Antonio Mora of then with ABC News.
Chiam’s mother, Shula, agreed. “We hope people can learn from this” she said. “I know I have.”
No matter how great and grave the differences between us may appear, below and above all is the eternal fact of brotherhood. If we believe there is one God, if we believe He is the Father of us all, then no child of God can be said to be outside the pale of human kinship and no individual can be considered less human, fundamentally different, or apart.