Tag Archives: Peres Center For Peace

While In Israel, I Have Been Crying For Aleppo

17 Dec

It is relatively peaceful where I have been the past two weeks. In Jerusalem I walked the old city at night.  Yes we stayed in the Jewish Quarter. But we walked and talked and saw children walking or riding their bicycles without fear. 

While in Jerusalem, we took a tour to Herodium, the final resting place – the tomb of Herod the Great, master builder and king who died in 4 BCE. It is in the Gush, the part of the West Bank close to Jerusalem. We lunched at a winery and traveled by car along the trail of the patriarchs passing gated communities enclosed by barbed wire. But it was quiet and seemingly peaceful.  We passed Palestinian communities and saw farmers working their lands. 

We saw the news and read about the soon to be evacuated community of Amona.  And how the settlers don’t want to leave, but the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled they must leave by December 25 this year. A double holiday. Hanukkah and Christmas. 

We stayed in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv for a week with our daughter and her husband. We visited with her in laws in Modi’in. From her home a tour guide took us around Tel Aviv and the old city of Jaffa. We visited the Peres Center for Peace, to hear about programs to bring people together. 

 In both Jerusalem and Jaffa, I was amazed to see the new and innovated ways that both Moslem and orthodox Jewish women were now using scarves to cover their hair. Slightly different ways, but in many ways the same.  They pass each other peacefully in the streets and shopping centers. In Mamilla, a outdoor shopping center near Jaffa Gate, they mingled together in a colorful picture of head coverings from my view in a second story restaurant. 

We traveled north to Ceaseria, the port city built by Herod. So much of it still buried beneath the sand, but amazing with its Herodian, Byzantine and crusader ruins. It is a must see! Then another winery in Zichron Yaacov, a Jewish city that sits across on a hill side from an Arab village, near Haifa where Jews and Moslems both live and attend the Technion University. 

And all the while Aleppo burns. And children, women and men perish in the fires of another genocide. And the UN is useless. Still condemning Israel, but staying silent on the true terror of the region: Syria.  I cry for the children of Aleppo. I cry for all children who sees destruction and feel the fear of war. 

The children of Gaza suffer. But each day 39-40 trucks of cement enter the Gaza from Israel to help rebuild. Where is the cement going?  I can’t answer that.  But Gaza could be rebuilt if its leaders turned away from violence and settled for peace. While in Aleppo, there is no choice. The government and the Russian military has decided for them. 

In Israel, the Peres Center has a program, Saving Children, to bring Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank into Israel for urgent and complicated medical issues. Each year about 1000 children are cared for in Israel. Another program brings doctors from the West Bank into Israel for their residencies and fellowships to learn and bring back to their homes. In Aleppo the Air Force targeted hospitals and killed the most needy. Destroying the places of healing and hope. 

I had hoped the world had changed in 80 years. But it seems not.  So while in Israel, I have been saddened and cried for the destruction of Aleppo and Syria. For years I have wondered how the world leaders could do nothing. I will head home to the US today, but those who survive Aleppo will not have that opportunity.  Power breeds contempt. An entire country destroyed. While in Israel I have been crying for Aleppo and all of Syria. 

Take Mom to Work Day, at The Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, Israel

1 Dec

My visit to Israel would not be complete without the ability to kvell about my daughter and her job. So I was excited when she told me that she would take me to work with her for a few hours to see her office and meet the people she works with at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, Israel.

Situated in a unique glass and concrete building, the Peres Center for Peace is the vision of Shimon Peres, former president and prime minister of Israel and the recipient of the Noble Peace Prize. Now that he is retired from any political roles, and past the age of 90, he works each day at the Center, where he hopes that ideas and programs will help to create lasting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

My daughter began working at the Center earlier this month, just a few weeks before I arrived. But it is her dream employment. With her master’s degrees in both Middle East Studies and the Politics of Conflict from Ben Gurion University in the Negev, she has wanted to devote her life to working for a world of peace.   In her previous job she did have a opportunity to work with non-profits that focused on community building, which gave her some satisfaction. But, now she has an opportunity to contribute. Yes it is in a small way, but she has a start. What mother would not kvell in delight and pride? So I will and I am.

A private tour through the building with my daughter was one of the highlights. It included a walk through the lovely auditorium, which faces the Mediterranean Sea. Just last week I saw pictures posted on the Center’s Facebook page of Peres meeting with a group in this very room. And in the back of the photo, I saw my daughter! Now I am walking down the stairs of the empty room and standing near the podium on the stage where Peres sat a few days ago!

Walls of concrete and glass reach to the sky around the bookcases.

Walls of concrete and glass reach to the sky around the bookcases.

We also visited the library, which one day will be open to the public. The library is an amazing space with ceilings that seem to reach to the sky, surrounded by walls made in alternating waves of glass and concrete.

Then we walked through the offices, where I met some of the people she works with each day. I enjoyed meeting every person, because now I have a face and a voice and a place for the people she had told me about. They are no longer just names floating in the internet cyberspace between the USA and Israel. Now they are real people who had the foresight to hire my daughter to join their important team.

Another highlight was to listen to her field a phone call from a potential volunteer who wants to help at the Center. My daughter (among other duties) is in charge of all volunteers and interns who want to also be a part of the Center and its work towards peace.

And it is okay that I did not meet Shimon Peres, I did not expect to. However, I looked through the frosted glass into the area where his office is located. And I saw the outlines of the people who were meeting with him. Again I kvell thinking that my daughter is working on the same floor as Peres. She told me the first time she saw him was on the elevator. How cool is that?

The view of Jaffa and the Sea from my daughter's office

The view of Jaffa and the Sea from my daughter’s office

As I sat in my daughter’s office, I looked out the window to Jaffa, and then to the Sea. I am looking at the view that she sees each work day. I look at this extremely modern building and it’s concrete floors, glass walls and wave like structures. I imagine my daughter working here for years as she lives her dream. But most important is the smile on her face and the joyful gleam in her eyes when she talks about her job!

On Facebook: The Peres Center For Peace. The one with over 16,000 likes. The other one is not it.