Project Interchange Participant News Feature on Ziv Hospital Treating Wounded Syrians

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

AJC Project Interchange participant Palki Sharma presented the following feature story on WION Gravitas News in India. View the story:

“Israel and Syria have traded little more than charges, rockets, and apples in the last seventy years. Syria has been an active member of the Arab lobby that has boycotted Israel, but with the Assad regime embroiled in a civil war that has been on for seven years. WION’s Palki Sharma visited the Safed village in Galilee for this [on-the-] ground report.”

Indian Project Interchange Participant News Feature on Israel\'s Ziv Hospital Treating Wounded Syrians


Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

AJC Project Interchange participant Palki Sharma wrote the following reflection of her experience in Israel:

There is an Israel beyond the gunfire

Carrot juice and gunfire

Israel is a country that stuns you with its beauty and incongruity. And that’s an understatement. Our chopper (called BDS, not weird at all!) landed on Mount Bental in the Golan Heights. It’s a dormant volcano where lava seeps from the base and not the top of the mountain, leaving the soil around it rich with minerals. There are lush vineyards as far as the eye can see. The Instagram happy lot had just turned on their selfie cameras when we were beckoned to the other side.

There was a UN convoy practicing a drill. The young Irish officers refused to talk. But a few minutes down the road we met more soldiers, men, and women, resting with their backpacks and machine guns, lying under olive trees, posing for cameras. War, perhaps, is just a state of mind for some.

We were headed to cafe Kofi Annan, packed with tourists and students. Kofi Annan in Hebrew sounds like ‘coffee on the clouds’. Apt. around tables laden with salads, coffee, carrot juice, pizzas and oranges, animated conversation ebbed and flowed. It was like any other cafe, except that you heard booming sounds intermittently.

It’s the ISIS fighting, said our guide. He passed on a pair of binoculars. In the distance, you could see the Syrian border. This is the only place in the world or one of the only since I don’t know better, where you can see the full theatre of war, live and unedited, perched on barstools.

After a while, the sounds ceased. It’s lunch break for the fighters, we were told. Of course. Ideology gives only so much sustenance.

The scene reminded me of Tom Friedman’s description of the Lebanese war in the 80s. An American friend of his was invited for dinner on Christmas Eve. Amid artillery salvos and machine gun fire that shook the neighborhood, the hostess put off serving dinner hoping that things would calm down. After a while, she asked, “Would you like to eat now or wait for the cease-fire?” I thought it was a bit exaggerated. Not anymore. It’s a coping mechanism.

For a country that has lived under the constant shadow of war when it’s not fighting one, this perhaps is the only way to survive and thrive. The Israelis have turned it into a fine art, complete with blooming hydrangeas in the kitchen garden and lace doilies on the window sill.

More power to Merav!

We were led into a fine dining restaurant with sparkling wine goblets and oversized lampshades. We were to meet a member of Knesset from the ruling coalition. Merav Ben Ari was to brief us on policy and politics. She walked in pushing a pram. Her three-month-old daughter gurgled greetings as the mother shook hands with us. She’s the first lawmaker in Israel to have conceived a baby with a gay friend and opted for shared parenting out of wedlock. At the risk of soundly too credulous and callow, I have to say I cannot imagine a politician in India, much less a woman, doing this and being cheered for it.

She discussed the corruption allegations against Prime Minister Netanyahu while burping her baby and forking her ravioli. The picture was almost inspirational - a working mother, unapologetic about tending to her baby while meeting a delegation, not expected to prove her dedication to her profession while balancing it with ‘life’. Envy.

All the exhortations about leaning in and claiming your space seemed fraudulent. It’s not really a choice for most women where I come from. It’s an offer with pre-conditions foisted on them. Most struggle to convince their bosses that they are committed professionals and to their children that they are committed mothers while living in the constant guilt that they might end up being neither.

Ben Ari gave me hope. But unfortunately, I did not follow much of what she said. My contemplative mood coupled with an overdose of cheesecakes that had me looking forward to a nap on the bus to our next destination.

Palki Sharma traveled to Israel for the AJC’s Project Interchange 2017.

What I saw at Saudi-led interfaith conference in Spain

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee offers a firsthand report on the Saudi-organized interfaith conference this month in Spain.

Arab-Israeli dispute percolates

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Good Editorial about the Israeli - Palestinian conflict.

Olmert’s Announcement Fuels Uncertainty in Israel

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert announced yesterday that he will not compete in his party’s September primary and will resign as premier once a new leader is elected. The move ends Olmert’s two and half years as Israeli premier, a post he took up after Ariel Sharon’s debilitating stroke in January 2006. High-profile allegations of financial wrongdoing have cast a shadow over his administration in past months, and until recently, he pledged he would only leave if there were a formal indictment. His announcement comes at a critical time for Israel and will certainly lead to sense of uncertainty about the future.

Israel: The Education System

Monday, September 15th, 2008

General Information

According to the 1949 Compulsory Education Law, the State of Israel is responsible for providing free compulsory education for children between the ages of 3 and 15, through grade 10.1The Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport (comprised of a number of divisions, each responsible for the development of a particular element of the education system),2  the Ministry of Science and Technology, as well as the local municipalities administer and finance the education system.

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