Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar, a 34-year-old violinist and the director of the Polyphony Conservatory in Nazareth, will be awarded the Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts.The prize has been awarded annually since 2009 by Ono to artists from various fields for their efforts to promote peace through the arts.Ashkar founded Polyphony in March of 2011 in order to promote tolerance and co-existence through classical music education. “The organization believes that through music we can develop equal opportunity for music education and dialogue between Arab and Jewish youth in Israel,” Ashkar said.
Ono met Ashkar at a concert in New York this month featuring Majd Mashour (15), a student at the conservatory, and Uri Tivon (17) from Tel Aviv. The concert was one of two organized by Polyphony in February.
Among the guests at the event were Yoko Ono and former Beatles impresario Peter Brown. “Peter Brown called me on Friday to tell me that Yoko Ono had decided to give me the prize,” Ashkar told Haaretz.
“The win gave me the feeling that there are people in the world who believe in our path,” he said, adding that he hoped more people in Israel would hear about the work of his organization thanks to the award.
“I realized that an artist seeking to tell the truth in her art takes great courage. I recognize the courage required to bring children together from Israeli and Palestinian communities to find commonality in music as a very powerful and effective beginning towards Peace,” Ono wrote on her website.
Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar is a member of the West-Eastern Divan orchestra, founded by conductor Daniel Barenboim and Palestinian author Edward Said in 1999. He studied music and physics at Tel Aviv University, and also studied at the Rostock Academy of Music and Theater in Germany.
The cash prize will be awarded by Ono to Ashkar and four additional artists at a ceremony at New York’s Museum of Modern Art on February 26.
A small event on Monday in eastern Turkey, less than an hour’s drive from the Iranian border, signaled a lull in the hostility that has been characterizing Israel-Turkey relations for over three years.
Three months after the devastating earthquake in the province of Van which killed over 600 people and left tens of thousands homeless, representatives of Israel’s Defense Ministry joined senior officials in the province to inaugurate a student village, built from 130 prefabricated cabins that were supplied by Israel as humanitarian aid in the wake of the earthquake.
The Ankara government had originally refused Israel’s offers of aid, immediately following the 7.2 magnitude quake. This was interpreted by many in Israel as yet another direct snub by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but it was actually an exhibition of Turkish national pride, as the government turned down offers of assistance from other countries as well. The trauma of the 1999 Izmit earthquake that killed tens of thousands and left Turkey helpless had not been forgotten, and the Turks were eager to prove to themselves and the world that they had evolved since then. Indeed, the response of rescue teams from around the country was impressive and within 24 hours thousands of search and rescue workers had arrived in the distant province.
But once the immediate rescue operations were carried out, Turkey was faced with the mammoth task of preparing alternative housing for tens of thousands of citizens facing a bitter winter outdoors. The international aid policy was reversed and shipments of Israeli prefabricated cabins were dispatched.
This did not signal a total change in the official Turkish policy regarding Israel, the senior diplomats have yet to return to the embassies in Ankara and Tel-Aviv, Hamas leaders are still honored guests and Turkey is still trying to prevent Israeli participation in NATO exercises, but as one senior defense official said this week, “The fact that the anti-Israel rhetoric is much less voluble and they are not engaged actively right now in trying to cause us harm, is in itself an improvement. The real reason though is not a re-warming in the relationship but the fact that Turkey is much too busy right now monitoring the situation on its border with Syria.”
Defense Ministry officials who participated in the ceremony on Monday in Van reported that “the atmosphere was very warm and friendly,” and it is hard to believe that such an event would have taken place when relations between the two countries were at rock-bottom last year, following failure to reach an agreement on an apology over the deaths of nine Turkish activists, killed by Israeli naval commandos during the May 2010 raid on the MAVI Marmara ferry en route to Gaza.
On the other hand, the representatives on both sides were relatively low-level, with the Israeli delegation headed by the head of emergency-preparedness at the Defense Ministry greeted by the deputy governor of Van Province. One reason for the relatively low-profile of the ceremony was its proximity to the Iranian border in a period when Israeli representatives are under threat of terror attacks. One defense source said that “this isn’t the beginning of spring in Turkey but it may be the end of winter.”
School children from the Efrat settlement and residents of the neighboring Palestinian village of Jurat al-Shama planted trees together in an initiative that promoted co-existence in the West Bank, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday.
The event, held on the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shvat, aimed to block the hazardous dust that is being disseminated by a nearby tree-processing plant.
The factory’s owner and a resident of Jurat al-Shama, Abu-Taled, relented recently to residents’ complaints and built a stone wall that blocked the dust; but the barrier proved bothersome to both the Palestinian and Jewish residents of the area.
When a new traffic circle was installed at the entrance to Efrat recently, Mayor Oded Ravivi decided to level the land between the plant and the settlement, and replace the wall with a small forest.
“We met with Abu-Taled, and agreed to plant a grove on Tu B’Shvat in order to block the dust,” Ravivi said. “Abu-Taled was very enthusiastic, and promised to bring friends and employees.
“This is how we could fulfill the mitzvah while also tightening our ties and work towards peaceful co-existence,” he said, refering to the Jewish custom of planting trees on the nature-oriented holiday.
According to Ravivi, the sides are currently considering the possibility that Efrat security personnel would guard the factory at night, as part of the effort to cultivate a neighborly relationship.
Five of world’s leading chefs prepare six-course ‘peace meal’ to raise money for activities bringing Israeli, Palestinian children closer together
Imagine having world leaders’ chefs abandon their bosses for several days in order to cook a royal meal just for you. Most of us can keep on dreaming, but 220 wealthy people from Israel and abroad were lucky enough to fulfill this culinary fantasy last week.
The five leading professional cooks arrived in Israel at the invitation of Chef Shalom Kadosh, the first and only Israeli chef who made it into the prestigious Club des Chefs des Chefs.
The event was planned about half a year ago with the aim of preparing a gourmet meal at a Peres Center for Peace fundraiser for activities that would help bring Israeli and Palestinian children closer together.
This fabulous quintet, along with Kadosh, gathered Wednesday at the Herods Hotel in Tel Aviv to prepare the splendid meal. Each chef was asked to cook his special dish, and make it kosher of course.
The first course was prepared by US President Barack Obama‘s chef, Tommy Kurpradit, who made lasagna from market vegetables with artichoke and truffle vinaigrette.
For second course, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev‘s chef Jerome Rigaud prepared Kremlin-style borscht soup.
Christian Garcia, the head chef of Prince Albert of Monaco, made a fillet of red mullet with fish broth, fennel and beans as the third course.
For fourth course, Chef Shalom Kadosh prepared warm grain and bean salad wrapped in chard leaves with a dressing of roasted peppers.
The fifth course was made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy‘s chef, Bernard Vaussion.
Dessert was prepared by German Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s chef, Ulrich Kerz, who made a symphony of apples with yogurt mousse and rum-caramelized raisins.
The five chefs said they were extremely impressed by the excellent raw materials in Israel.
They did not leave before going on a culinary tour: Kadosh, who serves as the chef of Jerusalem’s Leonardo Plaza Hotel and the executive chef of the Fattal Hotels chain, took his colleagues on a tour of the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem and the Levinsky Market in Tel Aviv.
A West Bank agricultural development team is hoping to form a partnership with Central and Northern Arava Research and Development by sending Palestinian agricultural students to learn desert farming techniques from Israeli experts.
Arava Research and Development, based at the arid Yair Research Station near Hatzeva, which The Jerusalem Posttoured on Tuesday, is an agricultural hub for scientists and farming experts who experiment with techniques to grow crops in extreme desert conditions.
Funded jointly by the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund and the government, the research unit explores methods to grow products in sandy and saline water conditions, and contains a variety of produce in its greenhouses, including sweet peppers, strawberries and ornamental fish.
The station also hosts several hundred Asian agricultural university students for 10 months each year, coming from Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, to partake in a work-study program called Arava International Center for Agricultural Training.
For the first time, a Palestinian group – which visited the facility on the same day as the Post – is requesting to give students this same type of learning experience, according to Hanni Arnon, the program’s director.
“We are trying to see how we can create a joint venture with these guys, in order to send Palestinian students – in university or just finishing high school – to get training here in the same way as Asian students,” said Ibrahim Barakat, member of the board of directors of the Ramallah and Gaza based firm Harvest Export, which provides Palestinian agricultural cooperatives and individual farmers with the opportunities to export their produce.
Harvest Export is working in conjunction with The Portland Trust, a British nonprofit for promoting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, to seek out investors for such a program and then attract and guide interested students, Barakat said.
“It’s introducing a new way of looking at agriculture – shying away from the normal stuff that we produce,” said Hani Dajani, managing director of the al-Birehbased Portland Trust.
By learning to employ some of the same techniques that the Arava farmers use, Palestinian agriculturists in the Jordan Valley can learn to expand their variety of produce and export their wares overseas, according to Dajani.
The program would aim to give skills to smaller, individual Palestinian farmers and then eventually open a facility parallel to that of Yair in the Jordan Valley so that when students return from their Arava training, they have a place to continue their research closer to home, Barakat added. “I want to invest in young people,” he said.
Arava Research and Development director Eilon Gadiel said he hoped that the partnership would succeed, noting that while the climates of the Arava and the Jordan Valley are not quite the same, many of the same farming skills apply to both places.
Not only would a joint program between Arava Research and Development and a Palestinian cohort bring new agricultural expertise to the West Bank, it could also foster a wave of better relations between two peoples, both Barakat and Dajani stressed. An exchange of knowledge and communication could only serve to benefit both populations, Gadiel agreed.
“Exchanging information between the two parties is healthy and can bring peace,” Barakat said.
Dajani added: “It’s trying to entice peace through economic development.”
Arava Research and Development will be hosting an “Open Day” agricultural exhibition for the general public at its Yair Station site next Wednesday and Thursday, February 1-2.
Turkey and Israel haven’t been the best of friends in recent years, but agreements may be reached in the kitchen. Famous Israeli chef Shaul Ben Aderet embarked on a 24-hour visit to Istanbul on Wednesday in order to cook live on Turkish TV.
The initiative is part of a Israeli-Turkish collaboration involving Israel’s Ananei Tikshoret company, which operates the Israeli Food Channel, and one of Turkey television’s leading lifestyle channels – TurkMax of the DigiTurk network.
“I have already cooked in many countries,” says Ben Aderet. “I’m not afraid of cooking in Turkey or traveling there despite the political tensions, because it’s a known fact that chefs get along in the kitchen – even though there are knives involved.
“The beautiful thing about the kitchen is that you don’t even have to talk or understand each other. Good food created a bridge between cultures and reconciliation to overcome anger.
“On the personal level, my dream is to cook for Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.”
What will you cook on the Turkish show?
“Spinach shakshuka with cream, Caciocavallo cheese and truffles. Fresh squash salad with walnuts, mint, cranberries and Gorgonzola cheese. And they’ll also get a fillet of beef coated with mustard and honey burnt like crème brûlée.”
Have you had any thoughts of opening a restaurant in Turkey, or cooking Turkish food here?
“I’m not missing anything in Israel. I only came for them to see the flag of Israel in front of their eyes. I don’t think I’ll cook any Turkish food. Maybe I’ll bring Erdogan along, who knows.”
Ben Aderet was accompanied on his trip by Sharon Lamberger, CEO of Ananei Tikshoret’s lifestyle channels.
“Food and culture create a bridge, even in times of political tension,” says Lamberger. “In this case we can make a contribution and work to bring the people closer despite the tensions.”
Ben Aderet and Lamberger say they met with Turkish chef Eyüp Kemal Sevinç and members of DigiTurk’s management team in order to discuss the current project and future Israeli-Turkish initiatives.
Kemal Sevinç, the executive chef of the Marriott Hotel Asia Istanbul, serves as a member of the European Cooks Association and the World Cooks Confederation. He has won 80 awards in prestigious cooking competitions.
During his visit to Turkey, Ben Aderet toured Istanbul’s biggest market, Kadıköy Bazaar, together with the Turkish chef and was a guest at the chef’s culinary academy.