Israel “beyond the conflict”

An explosion rocked a Jerusalem bus stop Wednesday afternoon, killing an elderly woman, wounding more than thirty, and shattering the calm that had prevailed in the city. 

Earlier Wednesday, terrorists fired two Katyusha rockets ofrom Gaza toward the southern city of Be’er Sheva and another toward the port city of Ashdod. 

One man was treated for light injuries, and multiple others were treated for shock. 

The day’s events are part of a dramatic escalation over the past couple of weeks, with the horrific murder of a young family asleep in their beds in Itamar last week and dozens of Qassam rockets raining down on the Western Negev farming communities and towns in recent days.

In searching for ways to understand the volatile times in the Middle East, I always like visiting the Israel21c website, which is dedicated to focusing on Israel “beyond the conflict.”

While of course I stand behind and care about Israel in its darkest and most trying days, I try to celebrate its achievements as often as possible as a reminder of Her strength.

What the site features is meant to be a reminder that there is so much more to 21st century Israel than “the conflict that dominates media coverage,” that Israel isn’t only politics and violence; that Israel is vibrant and flourishing.

With a goal of strengthening the relationship between Americans and Israelis, ISRAEL21c features stories about Israel’s success in technology, the environment, health, arts & culture, and social action. Its Youtube channel features uplifting videos about those successes.

Enter activist and legendary folk-singer Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame and “Operation Respect.”

This particular video on Israel21c’s site – produced by the Public Affairs office of the U.S. Embassy in Tel-Aviv, Israel –  features a recent visit to Israel by musician Yarrow as a guest of the U.S.

Embassy to promote “Operation Respect: Don’t Laugh at Me,” a program that he founded and leads which provides tools and techniques to create a respectful, safe, and tolerant climate of learning in the classroom and the community.

In Israel, the program is being implemented as a pilot in four schools (two Jewish and two Arab) by the Center of Educational Technology (CET), which adopted program materials for the Israeli school system, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education.

This video brings me hope for better days for Israel, and hope not just for tolerance of one another in the world, but for acceptance.

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