Something to Celebrate

We don’t hear enough about the good things that are happening in the world.  When Germans award Jews a peace prize for promoting tolerance between Jews and Arabs in Israel, I think that’s a good thing that deserves to be celebrated.

On May 11th, 2005, the Jerusalem Hand in Hand school received a Peace Prize in Berlin on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the German-Israel Friends Association. Ala Khatib, Daliah Peretz (co-principals of the Hand in Hand Jerusalem school) and Amin Khalaf (the co-founder of Hand in Hand) travelled to Germany to receive the prize. 
The ceremony honoring Ala and Daliah was held in the German Parliament (Reichstag) in Berlin, in the presence of the former President of Germany, Yohanes Brau, and the Israeli Ambassador, Shimon Stein, as well as other diplomats and distinguished guests.

The 5,000 euro prize was awarded for outstanding work in education to bring about peace & tolerance between Jews & Arabs in Israel.

An excerpt from Ala Khatib’s acceptance speech:

“We are thrilled to stand here today to accept the Peace Prize from the Israeli/German Friendship Society and to thank all who chose the Hand in Hand School for this respected prize.  Your support strengthens us in our path and in our vision, and it is what allows us to realize our dreams.

The Hand in Hand school is a special school in which Jewish and Arab children, Muslims and Christians, grow and learn together.  We have set out to educate toward peace, equality, and brotherhood between Jews and Arabs, because it is our belief that much of the estrangement and hatred between the Jews and the Arabs in Israel originates from the absence of opportunities for equal meeting between children from both peoples.  The daily meeting, at our school, of shared learning, that begins at a very young age, creates the framework in which the children and the staff develop a world view of tolerance and respect for the other, and, at the same time, pride and acceptance of a personal identity and an identity of the group to which each individual belongs.

Last Thursday, May 5, we taught about Holocaust Remembrance Day, its significance to the Jewish people specifically, and to humanity in general.  We commemorated, in a moving and respectful ceremony, the lives of the victims.  Today, we commemorate Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers, tomorrow the school will be closed in honor of Israel’s Independence Day, and on Sunday, May 15, we will mark the Day of Palestinian Catastrophe, Nakba.

This complexity exemplifies our school’s view, according to which we can and must establish a deep and honest dialogue of all the viewpoints: historical, social, and cultural.
In closing, we would again, like to thank you for your support, and a special thank you to the Jerusalem Foundation on its continued efforts in raising funds and support for our school.  On this honorable occasion, we hope and pray for peace and love between the peoples living in Israel, and hope that many schools like ours will create new light and hope in the future.”

Hand in Hand’s mission has just begun—less than 600 children are currently enrolled in the three Hand in Hand schools in Israel.  More philanthropic organizations and governments throughout the world need to recognize that any lasting reconciliation between cultural groups whose recent history knows only conflict and separation must start by looking forward to the future— this means promoting the education of our children so that they do not repeat the errors of their parents.

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