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December 12, 2003 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-12-12

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This Week


Seeds of Peace Michigan Gala honors Shimon Peres.


Staff Writer


himon Peres, former prime
minister of Israel, is not known
as an especially devout man.

However, when he spoke to support-
ers of the international coexistence
organization Seeds of Peace in Dearborn
on Dec. 8, he called on a biblical passage
to express his deepest feelings.
"The one who plants seeds with tears
will harvest with joy," he said, paraphras-
ing Psalm 126.
"Be among the planters, even in the
time of tears."
In 1994, Peres received the Nobel
Peace Prize, along with Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat and then-Israeli
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The next
year saw the first tentative steps toward
what was known as the "two-state solu-
tion," designed to facilitate two sover-
eign states adjacent to each other and
sharing Jerusalem as their capital.
The two-state solution was never
implemented, and more than a thou-
sand Jews, Muslims and Christians have
been killed while the conflict remains
For the third year in a row, Seeds of
Peace held a gala awards dinner at the
grand ballroom of Dearborn's Ritz-
Carleton. Numerous speakers praised
the accomplishments of the 11-year-old
organization in bringing together young
people from some of the most perilous
regions of the world to a camp in
Maine, where they hash out their differ-
ences and learn that behind every enemy
is another human being.

Running Out Of Time

Peres expressed his admiration for the
Seeds mission and for the possibility of
brotherhood represented by the multi-
ethnic crowd at the awards dinner.
But, at the same time, the 80-year-old
statesman did not conceal his frustration
with the lagging peace process that keeps
young Israelis and Palestinians on oppo-



site sides once they return home from
Seeds camp.
"We have no choice except for a
Palestinian state next to an Israeli state,"
Peres said, using no.-notes and looking
straight at the audience.
The former prime minister had been
invited to receive Seeds' John P. Wallach
Peacemaker Award, named after the
founder of the nonprofit organization.
Award-winning journalist Wallach, who
began Seeds of Peace immediately after
the first bombing of the World Trade
Center in 1993, died last year.
In accepting the award, Peres told
nearly 600 Seeds supporters that both
Israel and the Palestinian Authority
"know more or less what will be the
boundaries of the two states. We know
we have to cooperate economically."
The former prime minister said the
primary barrier to establishing peace is
"memories of the past."
"Diplomacy is at a halt," he said.
"Israelis cannot get rid of the settle-
ments. Palestinians cannot get rid of
small groups of terrorists."
It is time for the citizens of the world
to push their leaders toward peace, he
"We are terribly short of time. We are
wasting time," Peres said. "The question
is not the nature of the solution, but the
timing of it. If we wait much longer, we
may be too late."
Introducing him, Florine Mark Ross
of the Michigan Seeds chapter said Peres
"understands that peace in the Middle
East is not optional, but mandatory, and
that only through peace the entire
region will be transformed."

Acts Of Bravery

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., told the
crowd that, in a world where ancient
hostilities and acts of brutality escalate
into seemingly unsolvable conflicts, it
takes brave men and women to support
"Each year, when Seeds of Peace
campers leave their camp to visit
Washington, I am in a roomful of
them," Levin said.

"It should not take courage to come
to a Seeds of Peace dinner such as this,"
he added, acknowledging the calls from
some in the Arab American community
for a boycott of the event. "But for some
in this room, it has taken courage."
The event also honored Dr. Sari
Nusseibeh, president of Al-Quds
University, a leading Palestinian universi-
ty based in East Jerusalem.
"If Seeds of Peace stands for anything
at all, it certainly stands for peace
between people," Nusseibeh said. "In
the dark region of pain, Seeds tries to
create a new human order."
Nusseibeh, who earned a doctorate in
Islamic philosophy from Harvard
University, is a strong proponent of the
two-state solution. The recipient of a
Seeds of Peace Peacemaker Award in
2002, he declined to talk about himself
or his achievements, but instead praised
Despite the former prime minister's
role in building Israel's military, "it's only
natural today that Seeds should honor
this man's singular achievements in
achieving peace," Nusseibeh said.
"He's well-known for his political far-
sightedness and vision — a commodity
that is neither very much in demand nor
very much in abundance among politi-
cians and leaders."
Nick Scheele, president and CEO of
Ford Motor Company, ended the
evening by comparing hatred to a can-
cer that runs through society, one per-
son at a time.
"Seeds of Peace seeks to end this
malignancy," he said.

Top: Former Israeli Prime Minister
Shimon Peres
Center: Gala co-chair Joanne Faycurry
of Bloomfield Hills
Bottom: Dr. Aaron Miller, Seeds of Peace
president, as master of ceremonies

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