Peace finally seems within reach—until an assassin’s sudden, violent attack in Jerusalem’s Old City thrusts Christians, Jews, and Muslims into escalating acts of revenge and terrorism. When disciples of each culture mete out their own justice, the world is paralyzed by the news of airplanes falling from the sky, bombs leveling ancient holy sites, and nations on the verge of war. As chaos reigns, one person is chosen to stop the bloodletting, instill brotherhood among all religions, and establish international goodwill. Hospitalized, near death, and with the love of his life holding vigil at his side, he must embrace a journey toward enlightenment. During his encounters with the prophets of our past, the reluctant hero learns that the world’s religions share many universal beliefs and truths and that these should serve humankind as forces of unity rather than of division. With his enlightenment complete and armed with powerful knowledge, the humbled messenger must accept his dangerous destiny and attempt to change the hearts of minds of others. Only then can he pull a world gone mad back from the brink of self-annihilation. But can he keep the one he loves most?
|Publisher:||Enlightened Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
Greg Masse worked in the marketing and advertising industry for many years until returning to college to study theology as well as opening his own boutique advertising agency. Within ten years, the agency was accredited with worldwide awards for outstanding creativity and, in 2003, Greg sold it to focus on his personal interests: religion and creative writing. He resides in Canada and Florida.
Read an Excerpt
AND THEN CAME PEACE
By GREG MASSE
Enlightened Publishing GroupCopyright © 2013 Greg Masse
All rights reserved.
THREE DAYS PAST EASTER SUNDAY, Mikha'il bin al-Rashid peered through the scope at the flags of Israel, the United States and Palestine, roughly a hundred yards away. Behind a podium sat a row of a dozen chairs. He positioned the crosshairs at the empty space just above the podium and adjusted the settings until the microphones surrounding it were in focus.
"Perfect shot," he whispered to himself on the isolated balcony, four floors up in the Yeshiva School, where, before the building had been closed for renovations, Jewish youth had studied the Torah and laws of their forefathers. With the sun behind him, the small balcony was in shadow, well hidden from the sight of security. He had an ideal, unobstructed shot to the main plaza below, to the gathering center of Jerusalem's Old City.
The Old City was less than half a square mile and, surrounded as it was by towering walls of stone, accessible only through one of seven ancient gates. Scores of workers and security officials were busy preparing for the dignitaries who'd be arriving the following afternoon. While the workers set up chairs, barriers and sound systems, the officers gazed in every direction and spoke into miniature microphones clipped to the cuffs of their sleeves, their focus in stark contrast to that of the people praying among them.
Across the bustling court, those facing the revered stone wall paid no heed to the activity behind them. Silently, they stood before the remains of their ancient temple, carrying on with the ritual of prayer, as had generations before them.
As Mikha'il scanned the scene from the famed Western Wall to the open square of the Old City, he thought about the bitter strife among the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims. All believed this land to be the holiest of sites. In the decades since the declaration of a Jewish state in 1948, the pain and destruction had been unceasing, death and despair spreading as the Israelis and the Palestinians refused to give up what was, to each, their rightful homeland. No family was left untouched; the scars of suffering were everywhere.
But tomorrow, the latest attempt at peace talks was being announced. The Israeli prime minister, the appointed leader of the Palestinian Authority and the American secretary of state would address a hopeful, yet skeptical, audience.
Mikha'il turned his attention back to the stage. Again he looked through the scope, but this time, he softly depressed his forefinger, taking first one shot, and then another, before pulling his head back to look at the two images in the display box of his Nikon D3-Pro camera. He decided he couldn't ask for better results and wondered if the same would be said of coming events.
He stretched his neck to one side, working out a kink, when something odd caught his attention. He brought the camera back to his eye and saw he was not mistaken. Perched on the roof of the building behind the stage was a large golden eagle.
"What are you doing here, my friend?" Mikha'il murmured.
He pressed the shutter button, and the Nikon snapped ten images. He caught the majestic bird opening its wings and gracefully rising into the air above.
Mikha'il thought it odd that this bird would ever approach a city the size of Jerusalem. It should be flying above the sprawling vistas and endless terrain outside the city's domain, where it would reign supreme over all below.
While the eagle glided out of sight, Mikha'il packed his bag with cameras, lenses and a folding tripod. They were the instruments of his trade, and he considered himself fortunate that his hobby was his profession and with it, he made a good living. At least he thought so, even if others did not.
He started to hurry. He didn't want to keep Jasmine waiting at the airport, and he still had to set everything up in the hotel room.
Stepping over scattered bricks and steel rebar, Mikha'il walked the few short steps to the waiting elevator, the only access to the tiny balcony. The balance of the floor was blocked off by two heavy fire doors, both locked and chained. Mikha'il assumed this was a security measure in preparation for the next day. It was strange that access to the small balcony remained open, but someone's oversight was his gain.
Mikha'il took the elevator down the four floors and made his way through the vacant lobby. Exiting the empty building—the workers had been excused for three days—Mikha'il bent under the yellow chain holding the Access Restricted sign.
"You there!" called a tall, burly man dressed in the standard black suit, shirt and tie of an upper-level security officer. He strode toward Mikha'il with a coffee cup in his right hand. "Show me your credentials."
"Of course, no problem." Experience had taught Mikha'il to cooperate with security personnel, as they weren't known for demonstrating human understanding and common courtesy. He rummaged through his equipment bag. "I have them right here."
"You really should be wearing them." The agent set his cup on the ground.
"Yes, I know. I will next time," Mikha'il said, pulling the documents from his bag and handing them over.
"And your name, in full?"
"Mikha'il Patrick bin al-Rashid."
The man reviewed the papers. "You're a photographer? You make a living selling your photos?"
"Yes, that's right."
"You make a good living at it?"
"I get by," Mikha'il replied, thinking to himself, Not him too, but realizing the intimidating agent was just sizing him up.
"Where did the Patrick come from? Odd combination, isn't it?"
"I guess. It was the name of my grandmother's brother."
The officer looked at him, expecting more of an explanation.
"It's a long story." Mikha'il raised his shoulders once in a shrug, hoping that would suffice.
The agent nodded, paused for any forthcoming details and then returned his eyes to the documents.
Mikha'il controlled his impatience. He was thinking of Jasmine waiting for him, but he knew it was best to remain calm and keep a smile on his face. Passing the seconds leisurely glancing around, he saw a young boy to his left, staring up at him.
Only fifteen feet from Mikha'il and the security officer, the boy, no older than seven, stood far apart from those praying at the wall. He was a Hasidic Jew, from the fundamentalist sect that considered itself the purest of the pure. They maintained that God's presence was all around and that he should be served in every act and word. The child's long locks of brown hair flowed from under a wide, black hat, and his soft eyes fixed on Mikha'il.
Mikha'il looked at the faces of those nearby to try to determine who the boy was with, but he seemed to be alone. Mikha'il gave a friendly nod, but the boy offered no returning sign.
"Citizenship?" the security officer asked, breaking the spell cast by the boy.
"July 2, 1970," answered Mikha'il, remaining confident yet calm.
"Okay, the announcements are tomorrow. How come you're here today?" He held Mikha'il's gaze, likely to gauge his response.
"Always best to be prepared."
"And why were you in that building?"
"Just checking the place out."
Mikha'il waited for the moment that the officer would decide he was too busy to detain a lowly photographer any longer. He knew his odd background—an American Muslim, born in Vietnam and named after an Irish Catholic relative—would have raised a red flag, but not enough to make him appear a true threat. As he predicted, the officer pointed at the Yeshiva School and shook his head. "Can't you read the sign? That building is off limits. I could have you arrested for that."
"I'm sorry. I meant no harm. Just trying to find an angle for a good shot tomorrow," Mikha'il said, lifting his bag.
The agent tilted his head and pressed into his right ear. Then he raised his left wrist to his mouth. "Roger that, Control. My ETA's five minutes to Lion's Gate."
Mikha'il knew the Old City of Jerusalem well. The Lion's Gate was at least a five-minute walk from where they stood, so the questioning was obviously coming to a close.
"You're free to go." The officer nodded once to Mikha'il, handing back the documents. "Just stay out of that building."
As he turned to leave, Mikha'il noticed that the young Hasidic boy had moved closer and still stared. The boy's presence was somehow more unnerving than the agent's questioning.
Within a minute, Mikha'il had reached the main entrance to the plaza. Approaching the security checkpoint, he realized what was odd about the small boy. He bore an uncanny resemblance to himself as a child. Mikha'il stopped, turned and scanned the entire plaza, but didn't see him.
The buzz of his phone intruded. It was a text from Jasmine.
Sorry. Had 2 work this am. Now in @ 9. xo.
Though relieved she wasn't early so he didn't have to rush to the airport, he felt a pang of disappointment that, once again, he was second place.
AFTER LEAVING THE PHOTOGRAPHER and knowing that the Temple Mount, with its two grand mosques, was sacred to Muslims—and off limits to Jewish people—Major Rubenstein chose to go around it. Along the northern perimeter, he walked the Via Dolorosa, the narrow cobblestoned street over which Jesus had carried the cross on the way to his crucifixion.
At the end of the modest lane, Rubenstein passed under the Lion's Gate arch, his thoughts absorbed with a personal sense of duty, the preparations for the day ahead and the sacrifice to come. He ignored the dozen young soldiers gathered around the entrance.
At the age of eighteen, men and women are called to mandatory service in Israel's military—a necessity to protect their vulnerable nation. With the approach of the major, this cluster of young soldiers, M-16s strung over their shoulders, ceased their conversations, backed off and made a wide path for him. They all knew of Major Jacob Rubenstein.
To them, he was not just any security officer. Rubenstein was considered the ultimate Israeli soldier. Achieving top-of-the-class marks during his early training at sniper and explosives school, he went on to excel in counterintelligence and to be recruited by the army's elite Special Forces unit, the Sayeret Matkal. His family was legendary, and he had become not only highly decorated and well respected but a prominent-ranking officer in the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, whose motto was the defender that shall not be seen.
The soldiers watched as he entered the Central Command trailer, hoping they, too, would become the model soldier Jacob Rubenstein was.
Inside the confined space, Commander David Caplan was studying the map of the Old City on the large, wall-mounted video screen. He turned to greet the major. "Hey, Ruby!"
"Commander." Rubenstein rubbed his forehead with his right hand.
"What's with the commander crap?" Recognizing that his protégé seemed distracted, Caplan asked, "And what's with you? You okay?"
"Sorry, David. I guess I was just thinking about all the plans for tomorrow."
"It's not like you to second-guess yourself. You sure you're all right?"
"I'm fine. Just a head cold I'm shaking, that's all."
Dismissing his concern, Caplan moved on. "Sorry I'm a little later than I thought I'd be. I was stuck on the phone with the prime minister, and the roads surrounding the Old City are quite busy. It seems there are more protesters than we expected."
"Yes. I've seen them. I had anticipated there would be in my early planning reports."
"It's not just the Palestinians protesting. There are several from our side, too. Israeli extremists and those from the settlements."
Rubenstein huffed. "True, but our release of so many prisoners has strengthened the Palestinians' hand. And now they're out there, only making it worse for us. Letting go thousands of Pali militants in exchange for a handful of our captured soldiers ... it makes no sense." He shook his head, forgetting whatever was ailing him. "They've killed so many of our people. No peace will be good enough for them. They only want to annihilate us. They're just waiting for the perfect time to strike."
Caplan paused, contemplating an appropriate response. In recent weeks, he'd noticed a change in Jacob. His friend had become pensive and easily agitated, suggesting a growing skepticism in those leading the peace process. Still, Jacob had always been professional, never allowing anything to interfere with his duty. With so much required the next day, Caplan decided this wasn't the right time to address any concern and risk provoking his security leader. Perhaps after tomorrow, he thought. Jacob's due for some time off anyway.
"I don't know," Caplan replied evenly. "Intel shows no real threat. It seems the Palestinians are only waiting to hear terms for peace talks. Just like us."
"Well, if there is peace, how will it last?"
"One can only pray, Jacob. One can only pray."
Turning to the video screen, Rubenstein said lightly, "If peace does last, you'll be out of a job."
"You, too." Caplan laughed, relieved to see him back. "I've been told you have everything in order here."
"Yes, sir." Rubenstein pointed to the map. "You'll be sitting here, behind the prime minister. Alpha Perimeter is the protective shield of our agents surrounding the stage."
"Those agents are also responsible for the arrival route through the Dung Gate and onto the stage. Bravo Perimeter is the entire plaza. It'll be patrolled by uniformed police and our undercover agents.
"Charlie Perimeter is outside the plaza and also heavily patrolled. Most protesters will be here and here," Jacob said, pointing. "They won't get through security screens with their signs and banners."
"And where will military support be?"
"Close," Rubenstein responded with confidence. "Two Sayeret Special Forces teams ready to deploy—one at the Lion's Gate and the other at the Dung. We'll have another eight assault vehicles within one mile of the outer perimeter."
"And Air Defense?"
"Attack choppers, Black Hawks and F-16s on standby."
"I see. Well, I have a new directive," said Caplan firmly. "We have to move all military personnel out farther and keep Air Defense completely out of Jerusalem air space."
"What? Even with more protesters expected?"
Caplan turned to his friend. "I know, Ruby. I don't like it any more than you do, but I'm getting flak from the prime minister. He doesn't want any military presence visible because, and I quote, 'We're about to announce peace talks.' Apparently, it's not enough that we've moved our command trailer to here."
Rubenstein kept his mouth shut and considered the implications for his plans.
"Is something wrong?" Caplan asked.
"No, I suppose not. You're the boss."
"Good. Now what are the deployment tactics for a security breach?"
"First breach—Alpha Perimeter goes into lockdown, and the dignitaries are evacuated up the El Wad and out the Lion's Gate. With a second breach, the two Sayeret Special Forces units are released into the thick of it. If there's a third breach, all eight of the STAV assault vehicles will be deployed and Air Defense scrambled. But only if required, sir."
"We won't let it get to a third breach," Caplan replied assuredly. "And if by chance it goes to a second breach, I want it contained without the Sayeret teams. We have enough police and Shin Bet agents throughout both areas. The prime minister has been very specific. He doesn't want our military making matters worse."
"But, David, you just moved the Sayerets and military out further. They'll be at least three if not four minutes away, depending on the crowds."
"With no sign of terrorist activity, I can't see a situation where we'll require them. The only breach should come from protesters, which we can handle on our own."
"And if we can't?" Rubenstein could barely contain his frustration.
"Deploy the Sayeret teams, but only if you can't contain a second breach." Caplan looked his protégé in the eye. "However, you will not let any situation get out of Shin Bet control, and you will not require the deployment of military forces. Are we understood?"
He hesitated only a few seconds. "Completely."
"Good. Radio transmission and Lead?"
"I'll personally have the Lead. I'll direct Radio Control and call for any deployment necessary."
Excerpted from AND THEN CAME PEACE by GREG MASSE. Copyright © 2013 Greg Masse. Excerpted by permission of Enlightened Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book has a wonderful storyline and characters that at times feel real, such as Mikha'll and his speeches. This author has an extensive knowledge of the worlds religions and tells them in way that I found mesmerizing. Although my religious beliefs are not that strong this book has given me food for thought that maybe someday there can really be peace. I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.