Dr. Sonnenschein and Samah Salaime - Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salam _0.jpg

The gift of an olive tree from the Palestinian Authority, hosting of the Peace NGO forum and performances by well known singers made for a special day

(this article has been updated)

Tuesday, February 8 was an amazing day for all of us - adults and kids. In the morning, singer Achinoam Nini (Noa) came to the primary school, where all the children were gathered on the school lawn to hear her. She sang a few of her favorite songs. The children loved her performance and afterwards harried her with dozens of questions about her life and career, all of which she answered very graciously, showing her enormous affinity for children. 

Achinoam had come for more than one event. First, there was a special planning session of the  Palestinian Israeli Peace NGO Forum, which was engaged in planning activities to commemorate 50 years of occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights (1967 - 2017). It may not be the last year of occupation, but we can be confident that the dozens of peace organizations who were represented today will do their best to make it so. The main event is planned for June 10, here in Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom.

At noon, everyone took a break from the planning session to take part in an actual event of the day. A large party of representatives had come from Ramallah and elsewhere in Palestine in a special gesture by the Palestinian Authority towards peace makers.

The president of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas had sent an olive tree to be planted at the village entrance, as well as a plaque, bearing the words: "in honor of peace heroes among Palestinians and Israelis...", in three languages.

Among those present in the Palestinian party were Ruhi Fatouh, former speaker of the Palestinian Parliament; Dr. Mohammed Odeh of the Department for External Affairs; Bishop Abdullah Yulio; Ziad Darwish, of the PA department for interaction with Israeli society; Dr. Anwar Abu Eyasheh, former Minister of Culture and currently professor of law at Al-Quds University, and others. We were also honored to receive the Ambassador of the European Union, Mr. Lars Faaborg-Andersen.

After a short ceremony for the unveiling of the plaque, we went to the auditorium, where Samah Salaime, as chairperson of our educational association and Eyas Shbeta, general manager of the municipality, welcomed the guests. Achinoam Nini sang two songs: one by the Lebanese singer Fairuz - which she sang in Arabic - and the song that she had composed and sung, together with Mira Awad, at the European song contest. She was joined on the guitar by her musical accompanist Gil Dor. Their performance was received very warmly by the audience.

Interspersing the speakers came a performance of two songs well executed by the choir of the primary school.

At the end of the event, we were treated to a surprise stirring finale when popular Israeli singer David Broza sang one of his earliest and best known songs, "Ihieh tov" - or "it will be well" in English.

Special thanks are due to Yair Auron and the board of the Municipal Society for their initiative in organizing the day, and to the Primary School for the hard work of children and teachers (especially the school choir) in preparing for the day.