Tour unites Israeli, Arab mothers

Tour unites Israeli, Arab mothers

Nonie Darwish

Miri Eisen

RIVER EDGE – On Feb. 10, local Jewish Community Relations Council Israel advocates and members of the press will gather at a breakfast at the offices of UJA of Northern New Jersey here to hear two mothers — one Arab and one Israeli — "offer common-sense ideas that can help Israelis and Palestinians live in peace," says Joy Kurland, JCRC director.

The "Moms for Peace" program, co-sponsored with the Washington-based Israel Project, is not the first venture linking the two organizations. In June ‘004, the local JCRC sent lay and professional representatives to the Israel Project’s "Ultimate Training Seminar for Pro-Israel Advocates."

"The program was created to teach participants how to enhance the image of Israel in the media," says Kurland, who credits Fort Lee resident Avi Naiman, co-chair of UJA-NNJ’s Partnership ‘000 initiative, with spearheading the local JCRC’s Israel Media Outreach Committee after attending the Washington program.

The relationship has spawned another project, says Kurland, who says the JCRC is starting up an Israel Speakers Bureau that will send Israel advocates to non-Jewish venues such as churches, among other places.

"Moms for Peace" will visit six U.S. cities in February, says Kurland, who notes that the local is not designed for the general public but as a "press conference, so these mothers can get their message out to the public." (Some seats at the breakfast will be available to members of the community, but space is limited.) The campaign also includes a series of 30-second television ads that will air in the cities being visited on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News.

"Despite new Palestinian leadership, more than 300 schools in Palestinian areas are named after suicide bombers," says a press release issued in advance of the event, which points out that Palestinian schoolchildren learn "songs … about destroying Israel and [study] textbooks that deny Israel’s existence." They also watch "children’s cartoons that glorify and encourage them to become suicide bombers."

"The two mothers talk about the need to stop teaching a culture of hate," says Kurland. "Their story is truly compelling, and I’ve heard that they’re incredible."

Nonie Darwish, who grew up in Gaza, was encouraged to avenge the death of her father, who was hailed as a martyr for carrying out violent operations against Israelis. Miri Eisen recently completed her service as a colonel in the Israel Defense Forces. Both have three children and both want Palestinian youth to learn "to become doctors, farmers, businesspeople, and teachers, not suicide bombers," according to program organizers.

For more information about The Israel Project, visit For more information about the "Moms for Peace" breakfast, call Ruth Siev, JCRC project coordinator, (’01) 488-6800, ext. ”1.