Peace Sign 311.
(photo credit: Albatros Aerial Photography)
Tuesday was International Peace Day and it was celebrated at the Peres Center
for Peace in Jaffa.
The highlight of the festivities took place when
hundreds of children, both Jewish and Arab Israelis, as well as children from
the Palestinian Authority and children of foreign workers, united to form a
giant peace sign. The children all held hands and raised homemade banners with
peace slogans written on them, over their heads, while a helicopter flew above
The festivities carried on into the evening and included
children’s activities like sports and crafts, a breakdancing workshop, a
exhibit by Israeli and Palestinian photographers, an oliveoil tasting
where people could taste oil produced by Israelis and Palestinians,
of documentary films about the peace process, a children’s play about
stereotypes on both sides of the security barrier and a peace posters
The evening ended with a concert featuring artists like Daniella
Spector, Groove Redemption and Hadag Nachash.
September 21 was adopted as
International Peace Day by the United Nations in 1981.
To inaugurate the
day, the Peace Bell is rung at United Nations headquarters in New York.
is cast from coins donated by children from all continents. The
its side reads: “Long live absolute world peace.”
director-general of the Peres Center for Peace, said that the center had
to raise the profile of the event this year to increase awareness of the
of peace among the Israeli public, which he believes has tuned out to
in recent years.
“Our job here is to promote peace and remind people of
its value and, whenever and in any way that we can, to enable people to
and take part in the process. We promote peace on a daily basis and are
of the roller coaster that takes place on the political front,” said
“We, in the peace camp are often mockingly called the
avant-garde. It’s important to note that the avant-garde is a term for
forces which lead the rest of the army, not just a group wandering out
own. We are here to lead the public on the path for peace.”
veteran of Israeli- Palestinian contacts from before the Oslo Accords,
is considered an incorrigible optimist, but that even he is pessimistic
the current negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian
“In the bleak situation that the region is currently
experiencing, there is not much peace to celebrate today. All
that in 2008, under prime minister Ehud Olmert, Israel was a stone’s
from signing a final agreement with the Palestinians.
“Today, two years
later we are further away,” he said.
“Within a week we will know whether
the agreements that the Americans have been working towards for the last
year-and-a-half will go forwards or collapse with the resumption of
in the settlements.
“The question now is whether [Prime Minister
Binyamin] Netanyahu really wants an agreement and whether in the current
coalition he can achieve it,” said Pundak. “My feeling is that he
to and that even if he did, he couldn’t do it with the existing
When asked about recent proposals to hold a national
referendum on an agreement, Pundak said he was in favor of the
“What we should do is have the leaders initial an agreement and
then let the public vote on whether to adopt it or not. If the
well administered and the question asked clearly enough, I am convinced
public will approve it,” he said.