First of all I wish a happy Passover to all of my Jewish friends all over the world.
In July 2011, an American friend of mine sent me a news link from the NY times about a new Facebook page called YaLa Young Leaders that promotes peace in the Middle East—mainly between young Israelis and young Palestinians. After reading the Times article about YaLa, I checked it out the Facebook page, and since that day I have been a very active member of this amazing project for peace.
YaLa makes amazing efforts to bring the Israeli Arab youths together through joint trips to Spain and by setting up amazing opportunities to meet. In fact, I actually won a trip to Spain with YaLa, but unfortunately I couldn’t go because of health issues—so they owe me one!
The YaLa movement was founded by the Peres Peace Center, which was established in part by a visionary man Mr Uri Savir. Uri is an Israeli diplomat and politician. He served in the Knesset between 1999-2001, he was Israel’s chief negotiator in the Oslo accords. Also, he has a weekly column in the Jerusalem Post called "Savir`s Corner."
Uri is indeed a very unique man and has a very strong will. There are some people who don’t believe in the peace process and oppose what Uri’s work, but they couldn’t hold him back no matter what they did or said. Uri’s example made me do and feel the same about my activism for peace. Every time when I feel down or desperate I think of Uri Savir and his will to change the world into a better place.
Nimrod Ben Ze''ev is the administrator of the YaLa Facebook page. Nimrod is no doubt one of the most patient and tolerant man that I have ever met in my life. There are those who come to the page in an attempt to undermine our efforts for peace; they provoke and even intimidate the other members. Nimrod, however, keeps on giving them a second chances, hoping that their hate might turn into acceptance and love for one another. I’ve never seen Nimrod lose his temper or let those users provoke him. Wallahy, I admire his patience and tolerance. I really wish I could be more like him because my temper has been provoked by these trolls and has caused me a lot of trouble.
During my experience with YaLa, I have met the most wonderful people who later became my very best friends—and even family to me. To name a few, these friends include people like Mam Ann who is an American Jew; she literally became a mother to me and I never do anything in my life without checking in with her. There’s Avi Deul who is the kindest Israeli ever, he has a heart full of nothing but love for everyone around him. Zagny Urbin is an Israeli artist and illustrator; not only is she incredibly talented and her work is a mind blowing, but her kindness could cover the whole world. Ameera Ali is the most amazing Muslim girl in the whole wide world; she is from South Africa and works as a pharmacist. Her care and love for the world is endless.
The list is actually much longer and I apologize for not mentioning everyone, but I have you all in my heart and mind!
I strongly believe in the freedom of speech, but my only disagreement with YaLa is that they don’t restrict those who post bad stuff about other religions. I respect everyone’s beliefs (or lack of beliefs,) but at the same time, I expect that others respect my own belief.
Religion is between a man and his God. When we look to build peace between people, we should take religion out of the equation. We shouldn’t judge people based on their religions or beliefs, especially when we are looking for peace.
YaLa really helped me out and made me a better activist. I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart and I am very grateful for everything you made me see and feel.
Salam, Shalom and Peace