Nimrod Ben-Zeev of the YaLa-Young Leaders group says 18 members from Israel, the Palestinian territories, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq and Kuwait met in Berlin over the weekend.
Ben-Zeev, an Israeli, said the group was selected from the most active of YaLa’s 162,000 Facebook members.
Meetings between Israelis and citizens of Arab nations are rare. Except for Egypt and the Palestinians, none of those represented have diplomatic ties with Israel.
Ben-Zeev said Monday the movement wants to empower Middle Eastern youths to work together to improve their communities. It plans an online university next year.
Source: Associated Press
The Algerian author had only good things to say about Israel and its residents after his visit: “Israelis have all the reasons in the world to be proud of what they have achieved in their country in such a short period of time.
“In so many fields, Israel is at the international forefront and it is very impressive. Tel Aviv’s modernity blew me away, literally, and as for Jerusalem, there are not enough words to describe it.”
“I wanted to see everything, and to meet as many people as possible – Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis. But unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time. My visit in Israel was only five days long,” Sansal said.
“I would like to see an Israeli writer visit Algeria one day. I would welcome him or her,” Sansal confesses, adding that he would be honored if it were Amos Oz, David Grossman or A.B Yehoshua. He is nevertheless realistic, stating: “I doubt the Algerian government would grant a visa to an Israeli writer, as the Israeli government has done for me.”
Sansal’s previous visit to Israel must not have contributed to his sense of security, but he prefers to focus on the visit’s positive aspects. “I have many friends in Israel, and I am grateful for that. I felt very welcome in Israel. I’m not only referring to official representatives; I’m referring to everyone who came to listen to me and the people who invited me to their homes. It was heart warming.”
Regarding Lieberman’s support of him following the cancellation of the Parisian prize Sansal he was supposed to receive, Sansal commented: “Lieberman’s gesture moved me. When word of his support reached me, I couldn’t believe it. His statement was so gracious in comparison to Arab governments. He told them: ‘You’re persecuting intellectuals. We embrace them and care for their safety. That is why your citizens are rebelling against you.’ That is a harsh blow to Arab governments.”
Hamas officials in Gaza leveled harsh criticism against Sansal’s visit to Israel. “I wouldn’t wish Hamas upon my worst enemy. It is a terrorist movement of the worst kind. Hamas has taken Gazans hostage. It has taken Islam hostage,” the writer said.
While tensions between Israel and Iran grow stronger by the minute, two young women are proving that the two peoples aren’t so different after all.
Ella Klein, 28, of Karmiel and Hoora Amin, 31, of Tehran, met at a diving club in Thailand’s Ko Tao island two months ago. Ella was working there as a diving instructor and Hura came to do a diving course.
The two soon became friends and earlier this week decided to post a picture of themselves on Facebook. The picture shows the two making a heart sign with their fingers on the beach in Thailand.
Ella wrote on her Facebook page, “On the other side of the world, there are no wars, no conflicts, just sea & sun…. me and my friend from Iran took a moment to remind everyone that we’re simply people who love eachother and love life!”
Hoora wrote in response, “Tao was the heaven where I shared the most amazing moments of my life with those who inspired me, those who I will never forget. Let’s hope for a day when we can celebrate our joy and memories in our home country, whether it be Iran or Israel.”
The photo received numerous likes and comments. “We decided it’s an important message to pass on,” Klein told Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday.
She admitted Hoora was her first Iranian friend. “At first I didn’t know how she would accept the fact that I’m Israeli,” she said, “but it turned out that just as I don’t hate the Iranians, they understand we’re human beings too. Generally, life in a small island like Ko Tao, which has people from all over the world, shows that ultimately we’re all just human beings. It’s borders and leaders that deny us a free life.”
On Monday, Hoora completed her diving course and returned to Tehran. Before saying their goodbyes, Ella and Hoora expressed hope that one day they will be able to visit each other’s homes.
“When we said goodbye we joked how when we’ll each go back home they’ll take us directly to the interrogating room,” Ella said. “I think that both sides think it’s all very scary at the other side and that the oppression is much greater than it actually is.”
Lebanese cosmetic surgeons are so desperate for their clients to look svelte that they’ve recently been breaking the boycott on Israeli goods, and importing black-market cosmetic surgery products from the Zionist entity, Beirut-based newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Monday.
Israeli companies have “invaded” the Lebanese market for high-end cosmetic surgery, charged the Campaign to Boycott Israel Supporters in Lebanon. The companies reportedly ship their products to the US, and then have them repackaged and shipped to Dubai and on to Beirut.
The Lebanese importers tend to “conceal their primary source or that they originate in Israel,” so customers seeking to lase away unwanted hair don’t realize they’re supporting the Israeli economy, the report said.
Medical equipment produced by least four Israeli companies – Syneron, Lumenis, Alma, and Invasix – was found in Lebanese doctors’ offices, and is advertised on Lebanese television.
The treatments Lebanese customers seek and only Israeli tech can provide include anti-wrinkle instruments, laser hair removal, Botox, liposuction, varicose treatment, and hair transplants.
Doctors and import companies questioned by the paper as to whether they knew about the Israeli origins of the goods made no comment.
When Waleed Issa walked into the Americans for Peace Now (APN) Washington, DC office on the first day of his summer internship in June, the 25-year-old Palestinian from the Dheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem was startled by what he saw.
“I never saw so much blue and white in my life,” he says. “Everywhere you look, there’s a Star of David and the colors of the Israeli flag. As a Palestinian, I thought to myself, ‘This is not good news. How am I going to work here for the next six weeks?’”
After stepping outside to catch his breath, Waleed decided to return to the office.
“When I came back, I met APN spokesperson Ori Nir and he took me out to lunch. Immediately, I was impressed by his level of knowledge about the conflict and the way he made me feel extremely welcome.”
Nearly a month later, Waleed describes his internship with APN as “beyond interesting.”
I never saw so much blue and white in my life
“I never had the chance to get to know Israelis and the American Jewish community from the inside,” he says. “By sharing an office with them, I’ve been struck by how they’re trying to do good things for the new generation in Israel and Palestine by working toward a two-state solution.”
One of the biggest changes to Waleed’s daily routine, he says, is his “addiction” to websites like the Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, and Ha’aretz.
Another change is the addition of someone he calls “a new lifelong friend,” Or Amir, a 25-year-old Israeli intern with The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), a pro-Palestinian American organization that advocates for a two-state solution.
Or and Waleed are among 10 young people – five Israelis and five Palestinians – brought to Washington this summer by a group called New Story Leadership which, according to its website, “introduces a radically different approach to peace-building, one that does not pretend to solve the historical controversies or mediate between antagonists.”
Instead, the group offers what it calls a “narrative-based program” that wants participants to focus on creating new stories based on mutual interest and cooperation, rather than “stories that endlessly recycle old grievances, inflate differences and inflame passions.”
Or says she doesn’t pretend that she’ll be able to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but believes person-to-person programs like this are the only way to eventually reach a solution.
“Smarter, wiser, and more accomplished people than Waleed and I have tried to settle the conflict and failed,” she says. “Politicians cannot do what Waleed and I have done – establish a close friendship that humanizes the other side.”
Or is a second-year student from Rishon Letzion studying political science and communications at Tel Aviv University. Before that, she spent four and a half years as an officer in the Israel Defense Force’s Medical Corps. Waleed says it would have been nearly impossible for their friendship to have taken hold back in their native lands.
“Before I came to the program, if you told me an Israeli officer would be working closely with me, I would’ve been like, ‘Holy moly! How am I going to deal with her?”
“As a Palestinian, I only saw Israelis on top of tanks holding their guns over Bethlehem. I wondered, ‘What if she served in Bethlehem? What if she was the one who made me sit at home for 40 days under curfew? What if she shot one of my friends?’”
“But when I started talking to Or and getting to know her, she started telling me about her life and what army life is like. At that point, I started seeing a different angle about the Israeli army. I saw that she was a medic and helped a lot of people. She probably helped treat some Palestinians.” [She did].
Smarter, wiser, and more accomplished people than Waleed and I have tried to settle the conflict and failed
For Or, working with Palestinians at ATFP was less jarring, she says, because of her Sephardic heritage.
“My family is from Morocco, so the art, food, and culture feels very familiar to me,” she says.
On a typical day, Waleed and Or do what most Washington, DC interns do – compile media clips, attend briefings, and help keep the offices running. But the two have a more ambitious goal than most summer interns. They are working on a joint social media project, perhaps a Facebook group page at first, where Israeli and Palestinian youth can meet to exchange views “in a safe place without finger-pointing and name-calling.”
If you told me an Israeli officer would be working closely with me, I would’ve been like, ‘Holy moly! How am I going to deal with her?
Having just earned a BA in Economics from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, Waleed plans to return to Bethlehem and grow his project with Or into something bigger and, eventually, more profitable. His dream is to launch a website or app where joint Israeli-Palestinian innovations can be ‘crowd-funded.’
Although they’ve grown close over the past month and pledge to stay in close touch, neither Or nor Waleed want to be citizens of the same country. They are firm believers in a two-state solution.
“I’m a Palestinian,” says Waleed. “I want to live among my people in an environment that honors my history and traditions. And Or’s grandfather in Morocco had a dream that his children would live in a Jewish homeland. There is no reason these two dreams should be incompatible.”
Source: Time of Israel
Students from the pluralistic Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa and students from the Arab village of Ein Mahal in the Lower Galilee will perform together in an original musical production inspired by the Friends Forever Program, Yedioth Ahronoth reported this week.
The Arab-Jewish musical “Step By Step Sauwa Sauwa,” which is based on he Broadway show A Chorus Line, is performed in Hebrew, English and Arabic and takes place in an “ideal Israel,” where Jews and Arabs live together in peace.
Dany Fesler, chief executive of the Leo Baeck Center, told the Jewish Chronicle that the students had originally gone on a trip to the US through the Friends Forever Program scheme, which pairs up teens from conflict zones.
“They went to New Hampshire, lived in the same house, cooked together, went hiking, volunteering and gave talks about their experiences. They came back totally different. They wanted to keep their friendships going, and do a project together,” he said.
Now, he says, “they are creating something onstage to describe the conflict, to show the differences and how we are bridging them. It’s changing their lives. They influence their families, their peers and everyone is asking about it. It’s wonderful to see.”
Fesler told the Jewish Chronicle that the students’ own concerns and prejudices could be heard in the dialogue: “We hear their own fears coming out in what they have written, fears about terrorism, bombings, fears about the IDF, and being a minority.”
Lee Azulay, 18, a student at Leo Baeck, said “the most important thing about the project is the message it sends – if we can coexist on the same stage, we can coexist in the same country.”
Muhammad Abulil, 17, who attends the high school in Ein Mahal, said the musical “tells the entire world
that people can coexist without fighting.”
The musical was even brought to stages in London and Switzerland and, according to Fesler, was “received very warmly.”