March 19, 2016

Ukuleles for Peace perform in Tel Aviv, Hawaii, elsewhere locally and globally

"We participated in the 2015 Ukulele Festival in Hawaii,"
gushed this trilingual (Arabic, Hebrew, English) performer.

Radiating infectious warmth and joy, young Arab and Jewish Israeli citizens performed with Ukuleles for Peace (UFP) today at the Bereaved Families Forum Peace Tent for street dialogue set up along the Mediterranean Sea where Tel Aviv meets Jaffa. (Forum members are Israelis and Palestinians who lost a family member to the conflict.) 

Scottish singer, songwriter, guitarist, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Donovan, a huge draw during my own teen years, has invited Ukuleles for Peace to warm-up the huge audience this summer for his first appearance here.


With their families and teachers, they picnic, celebrate festivals,
and visit each other's (Jewish and Arab) schools and homes

Making music while building friendships
without any stereotypical prejudice

The goal of Ukuleles for Peace is to bring Jewish and Arab children together to play with ukuleles, kazoos, and other fun instruments. The hope is that one day they and their families will be the force driving the wheels of social change in Israel. — Founder Paul Moore

February 28, 2016

Leibowitz Prize winners 2016: Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan and Yaakov Manor

Street dialogue; Peace Tent banner signs
(Arabic, Hebrew):"It Won't End Till WeTalk"
The Leibowitz Prize award ceremony in Tel Aviv last month felt like two minutes and an eternity. The auditorium packed with honoree's families, supporters, and colleagues, and the messages (Hebrew, Arabic) powerful, significant, moving, heartbreaking, and uplifting. An antidote to the negativity and craziness.

The annual Leibowitz Prize, a Yesh Gvul initiative for public activism in the spirit of the political and philosophical teaching of Yeshayahu Leibowitz, was awarded to Yaakov Manor of the Alternative Information Center internationally oriented, progressive, joint Palestinian-Israeli activist organization, and to Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan, spokespersons for the Bereaved Families Forum (members are Israelis and Palestinians who lost a family member to the conflict).

Before the ceremony, the Forum organized a street dialogue among Forum members, friends, and guests, and passersby.

Forum members Robi Damelin, Rami, and Bassam

The next generation: sons of Bassam and Rami

Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903, Riga, Latvia – 1994, Jerusalem) was a religious thinker and biochemist with doctorates in philosophy and medicine who kept up a relentless critique of Israel's policies in the occupied territories and of its political and religious culture. He supported Israeli Army resisters who refused to serve in the territories, and warned that soldiers in the occupied areas risked becoming "Judeo-Nazis."

Yesh Gvul ("there is a limit", "there is a border", or "enough is enough") was founded in 1982 at the outbreak of the Lebanon War by Israeli combat veterans who refused to serve in Lebanon and has expanded its opposition to service in the occupied territories.

Related posts

February 14, 2016

In Tel Aviv: Along the shoreline to Yafo/Jaffa

The Mediterranean Sea peeking between me and Racheli (R)

Sunny Shabbat afternoon walking along the sea from TLV center to Yafo and back. 
  • Dogs chasing Frisbees all up and down the canine beach. 
  • Cats sunning. 
  • Toddler Belle in pink tights and giant grey headband. 
  • A one-man band. 
  • Riders on all kinds of wheels. 
  • Scents of the sea, Nargila (hookah) smoke, and Mangal (barbeque). 
  • Jews, Arabs, Tibetan monks, missionaries, tourists, African refugees, singles, couples, families, sandcastle builders, sunbathers, and fishermen speaking Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian, French, and languages unidentified. 

My related posts

January 21, 2016

In Tel Aviv: Beit Bialik, home of Israel's National Poet

Selfie with painting of Israel's national poet (r.)
Hayim Nahman Bialik (b. Odessa 1873, d. Vienna 1934) is Israel's national poet. Bialik helped revive the ancient Hebrew language from one reserved for prayer, sacred text study, and scholarship to a robust modern language. I grew up on his poems, songs, and stories for children, and since have been singing his songs and studying his poetry and the classic Sefer Ha-Aggadah — compilations (with Yehoshua Ravnitzky) of thousands of stories and legends scattered through the Talmud and rabbinic literature, from the creation of the world to the world to come. 

On his 60th birthday, in 1933, all the schoolchildren of Tel Aviv were taken to meet him at his home on Bialik Street that has been converted into Beit Bialik, a museum and center for literary events and the Bialik Archive. Last night, Shmuel Avneri, director of the archive and an important Bialik scholar, treated me and two friends to a private tour. 

This selfie cannot hide my shock and awe standing behind Bialik's desk and in front of a painting of the poet (right) and Ravnitzky. Imagine standing behind the desks of USA national poets Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, and Maya Angelou. Or behind the desk of any national poet of any culture you love.

December 22, 2015