June 15, 2020

Boston Partners for Peace was founded to amplify the voices of peacemakers in Israel using various methods to promote coexistence between diverse communities and to support initiatives that promote the rights of Palestinians and Israel’s Arab-Israeli minority. As in America, many of these groups employ peaceful protests as a tactic for governmental pressure, combined with developmental programs on a local level. They also provide life-altering opportunities for Israelis and Palestinians to meet and understand one another’s perspectives and challenges. Many of these organizations combine these activities with political advocacy, encouraging voters to make themselves heard through exercising this right. Over the past week, we have witnessed powerful protests across the United States and in Israel demonstrating against injustice toward minorities in both countries. Protest movements are powerful ways of making our voices heard and getting the attention of leadership that can institute cha...

May 20, 2020

On Tuesday May 5th, Boston Partners for Peace hosted a webinar with leaders from Mabat, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that focuses on addressing the divisions between diverse groups of students on Israeli college campuses. The webinar featured Founder Daniel Langenthal, Executive Director Lior Shorer and Mabat alumni and current facilitator Ameen Hardan. They discussed why they think Jewish and Arab students on Israeli campuses have a misperception of each other, how their organization attempts to change that, and why they think it is important to focus on Jewish-Arab relations specifically on college campuses.

Daniel said that he came up with the idea of Mabat after serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and living in different parts of Israel. He said his experiences revealed to him that many people in Israel, especially Jews and Arabs, have a misperception of the “other”, and felt it was important for them to better understand the other’s “perspective” (Mabat in Hebrew).

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April 29, 2020

In this time of global uncertainty, people constantly in search of new ways to stay connected and share experiences across oceans. Over the course of the past few weeks, our Pathways to Peace learning series has introduced our community to Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders sharing their efforts to continue their work and aid vulnerable communities in this unprecedented time of social distancing. Many of these people are on the front lines, battling the virus and risking their own lives to help people in need. Recently, we were privileged to hear from one such hero, Dr. Yasmeen Abu Fraiha.

A long-time activist on behalf of the Bedouin community, Dr. Fraiha founded the organization Rodaina to help reduce the rates of genetic diseases in the Bedouin community by offering pre-marital genetic testing. This is a widespread issue, as these communities are incredibly insular and they often marry within extended families. Due to the ongoing crisis, Dr. Fraiha’s priorities have shifted, and s...

April 8, 2020

This week is central to both Christian and Jewish beliefs, with Holy Week for Christians culminating with Easter on Sunday and the start of Passover in the Jewish tradition. As part of the traditional Seder observance, Jews will ask “Why is this night different from all other nights.” This year, COVID-19 will give us cause to reflect on this question. As the world continues to spin around us at dizzying speed, we are finding new ways to connect across our common humanity. Heading into Passover, I am drawing inspiration from the Israelis and Palestinians we spoke to last week, and the lessons and values that are informing their work during the pandemic.

Last week, we welcomed Obadah from Zimam to discuss his work. Zimam is bringing Palestinians together from the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem to build a society united through respect, peace, and democracy. Obadah says that they are examining the political and cultural beliefs of Palestinians and challenging them to look from within when...

April 2, 2020

In February, Boston Partners for Peace began a book club series where several young Jewish professionals throughout Boston gathered to discuss Yossi Klein Halevi’s “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbors” and the letters written in response to him by Palestinian readers. The program consisted of three meetings between February and March among three different groups in Somerville, South Boston and Brookline. I participated in the Brookline group and, after reflecting on our discussions, there were three noteworthy themes we came away with: the importance of empathy, how dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians might be structured, and what the role of American Jews in Israeli-Palestinian peace activism may be.

Yossi often talked about how Israelis’ and Palestinians’ different Israeli and Palestinian narratives are at the core of the conflict, and it is therefore important to understand and empathize with each other in order to prepare for a peace agreement. When we discussed about the rol...

March 25, 2020

Over the past several weeks, we witnessed the outbreak of COVID-19 and its devastating effects on communities around the world. Most of us have connected with our neighbors and friends over shared feelings of uncertainty, fear, and sympathy for those affected. During this time of isolation, Boston Partners for Peace is offering ways to interact across oceans and take action. This week, we launched the Pathways to Peace Learning Series, an ongoing series of opportunities to connect and access stories from Israeli and Palestinian peacebuilders that unite and inspire us.

In Israel, NGO’s are struggling to stay connected with the communities they serve, to bring divided societies together, and to sustain themselves while prevented from international travel, which is essential for their awareness building and fundraising. We aim to build bridges between the struggles in Israeli and Palestinian societies and residents of Greater Boston looking for ways to help. We started our series this past...

March 20, 2020

This blog post was originally published by Hanan Schlesinger, founder of Roots and West Bank peace activist, on March 5, 2020. 

The joyous, sometimes boisterous, holiday of Purim is approaching. Twice during the holiday, Jews will publicly read the Book of Esther, in which Hebrew Scripture recounts the events of over 2,500 years ago that the celebration comes to commemorate. Haman the Agagite, a very high ranking official in the court of the Persian king, hatches a diabolical plot to exterminate all the Jews of the immense empire and then bribes the king to adopt the genocidal plan. All would have been lost if not for the ingenuity and courage of Queen Esther, who risks her life by simultaneously revealing herself as a Jew and confronting the evil Haman, thereby convincing the king to save the Jewish People from the evil decree.  Haman and his ten sons are hung, and the Jewish subjects of the Persian Empire are given free rein to wreak vengeance against their enemies, ultimately ki...

March 2, 2020

In his new book, Apeirogon, Colum McCann weaves together stories of Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin. Rami and Bassam are both members of the Parents Circle, an organization that brings together Israelis and Palestinians who have lost an immediate family member to the conflict. In Apeirogon, McCann builds a fictional universe that incorporates Rami and Bassam’s real-life stories and experiences. I was deeply moved by two aspects of the book: one that connects us all as human beings and one that shows the power of small groups of people who claim victories against seemingly impossible odds.

I have had the pleasure of meeting both Rami and Bassam and hearing their stories. You may also have met Rami when he was in Boston in 2018 with Mazen Faraj, another member of the Parents Circle. Rami and Bassam both lost their daughters to the conflict. Rami’s daughter, Smadar, was murdered by suicide bombers in downtown Jerusalem, and Bassam’s daughter Abir was shot in the back of the head by a rubber...

February 27, 2020

Over the past several months, we have watched an exhilarating and exhausting election season unfold in Israel and the United States. This coming Monday, March 2nd, Israelis will go to the polls to cast their votes in the third election within 12 months. We hope that this time the party leaders will be able to form a successful government and bring stability to the Israeli political theater.

In the last two elections, the right wing and left wing blocs did not receive enough votes to form a government on their own and each side’s parties were not willing to form a unity government. You may remember that Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party, pledged that he would not form a coalition with the Likud party while Prime Minister Netanyahu is under indictment. Despite his legal issues, the Likud party had an internal primary in December and overwhelmingly chose Netanyahu to remain as party leader. Based on the polls, the results of this election should be very similar to the las...

February 12, 2020

This week, Jews around the world celebrated Tu’bishvat, also known as the “Jewish Arbor/Earth Day.” The holiday is meant to remind us of our connection to the earth and to our role as caretakers of the environment. Traditionally, Jews observe Tu’bishvat with a festive meal, and some modern practices include donating money to plant trees. Zionists who planted trees after the founding of Israel are said to have “made the desert bloom,” and the practice continues to today. Nature is miraculous, as recently shown through the work of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.  Researchers at the Institute planted a date palm from an ancient seed which has grown into a healthy tree they have aptly named “Methuselah.” Methuselah is a male tree that won’t bear fruit, but they are also beginning female trees and we might soon know what dates tasted like in ancient times.

Reviving ancient trees is only a small part of the work of the Arava Institute. At the Institute, Palestinians, Jordanians...

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