MOTHER THERESA OF THE MIDDLE EAST – THEA WOLF
NOT IN VAIN by ADA AHARONI
By Dan Luiton
NOT IN VAIN by Ada Aharoni tells the story about a German Nurse called Thea Wolf living in Alexandria, Egypt during World War Two. This book contains tales about how a brave nurse succeeded to help Jews escaping from the horrors of Europe during World War Two, for the only reason of helping a human being. As a Mexican man I rarely show any emotions but this was the first book which made me cry, because she saved so many people who were destined to die.
At the beginning, it seemed not so interesting to read, because it was like a common story about a Jewish girl who wanted to become a nurse in a conservative society, who then went to Egypt. Then, when she started talking about all the stories of her patients, I as a reader could not stop reading. The stories were so interesting and some even made me cry of happiness that those refugees who were destined to die were saved by her.
One of the stories that moved me so much was the NIGHT OF THE STAIRCASE, a story about a mother that just gave birth to a beautiful girl and was in deep sadness. She was sad because her husband forced to stop working because now she was already a mother. She did not want to stop working, because when she was young her mother left her dad, and she couldn’t do anything because her husband told her to stop working and she didn’t want to end like her mother. However, she did work after all because that was her joy and her husband had to understand that.
This story moves me in particular because my mom was forced by my dad to stop working when she had my first brother. Yet, she started working twenty years later. I can relate to Emily because my mom like her, was so deeply sad because she couldn’t work. However, it’s something common in our culture, women have to submit to their husbands. Even though, my mom had a degree and my dad did not have one, she needed to stop working. The author, Ada Aharoni, was right when she shows that women should work too. Why is this backward cultural idea that women should not work still exist. Women of course, should work if they want to, just like the men! I think this story in addition of the story of my mother, has made me a strong supporter of feminism.
The most moving story of all in the book was THE ASTOUNDING PANCHO EPISODE, about four Czechoslovakian Jews who tried to save their friends that were shipwrecked on an abandoned island. Hundreds of Czechoslovakian Jews were trying to escape the horrors of Nazi Europe, in an old ship, but the ship sank and they landed on the nearest desert island, somewhere in the Mediterranean. The four young Jews left the island on a raft to look for help for their friends and relatives. They were sailing for two days without water or food until they were picked up by a British war ship who thought they were German spies.
When they got to Alexandria, the heroic head nurse, Thea Wolf, tried to help them. She went to the British forces in Alexandria and told them the sad story of the Pancho. They sent two planes to look for them, but did not find any island with shipwrecked people. An Italian warship fortunately spotted and saved them. The captain name Carlo, took them aboard and fed them, to Sicily that there they would be safe if they did not say that they were Jews. They found work in Sicily and stayed there all through the war years.
Half century later, when Ada Aharoni published the book NOT IN VAIN with the story, someone by the name of Abraham called her and told her that he was one of those Jews in the island and told he reported the story how they were saved. The story does not end there; the survivors of the Pancho met in Jerusalem in the congress which Thea and the mayor of Jerusalem organized. They were delighted to meet with each other because many people thought they were dead. It was so moving that they were able to find each other after so long. The reason I love the story is because there could be good and kind people even if they are enemies. In this case it was a good hearted Italian captain by the name of Carlo.
It is a unique story which tells another side of World War Two that needs to be written down in the book of history. Moreover, as a Mexican that usually hides my feelings and almost never cries, yet this book made me cry. For these reasons, and because it very well written and told, I think this biography of Thea Wolf – The Mother Theresa of the Middle East, should be read and enriched by all .
My Experience as An Intern at IFLAC
By Dan Luiton
I think coming to Israel was one the best decisions I have ever made, because I have learned so many things I didn’t know, and IFLAC has played an important role in it. My experience at “IFLAC: The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace,” has been a truly eye – opener about the Israeli – Arab conflict. The reason it is an eye – opener is because I learned the other side of the story – the Israeli side, by reading the Iflac Peace Anthology, and many Iflac peace books, discussions with Prof. Ada Aharoni, who was always ready to answer my questions, and the research for the writing of my assignments. Moreover, IFLAC has taught me that Peace should and can be achieved with the help of Literature and Culture.
Before I came to Israel, I had a really bad impression of Israel and Israelis in general. I thought they were horrible people because they violate human rights in relation to the Palestinians. I always said that if I ever become President my first foreign policy action would be to write a statement like “The US does not recognize the State of Israel, and we are cutting all funding to it.” In other words, I just didn’t want the State to exist; really strong words, I hated Israel without even knowing the country (because of the influence of the Palestinian propaganda). Yet, for some reason I ended up in Israel. Furthermore, my first weeks here in Israel were not really pleasant, due to the new culture I was encountering, I thought people were rude, they didn’t smile, and customer service in the shops was lacking.
IFLAC played an important role in changing my way of thinking about Israel. One of the novels that really made me change this perspective was FROM THE NILE TO THE JORDAN, by Prof. Ada Aharoni. I learned that the Palestinians were not the only victims in the creation of Israel. I learned that more Jews were expelled from most of the Arab countries, due to the creation of the State of Israel, than Palestinians who ran away from Israel. I felt that I had been brainwashed by the media, to think that only Arabs were the victims and Israel was the villain. This book was a real eye – opener for me.
Moreover, I learnt a great deal from a real story about World War Two, in the book NOT IN VAIN, also by Prof. Ada Aharoni. In this book Thea Wolf, a Jewish German nurse, living in Alexandria, Egypt, tells a surprising story of how she convinced Arab institutions in Egypt, to help her save Jews to escape from the Nazi Holocaust in Europe. It is still quite unknown that Arabs helped Jews in Egypt, through the Jewish Hospital in Alexandria, to save Jews from Nazi Europe. However, it is a historical fact, and I think this can be a good example to believe that there can be peace between the two brothers. I was so impressed by this book and by the heroine Thea Wolf that I title my review on the book THE MOTHER THERESA OF THE MIDDLE EAST.
Apart from learning the other side of the story in the Arab – Israeli Conflict, I learned that literature and poetry can be one of the weapons to promote peace. Reading poems of poets and kids about the various aspects of Peace Culture, and the promotion of peace, made me understand that peace is not something abstract; it is a goal that can and should be achieved. I learned that words can be used as “bullets to kill war” and bring peace, and this is the best way, because it does not
Kill humans. Moreover, spending time with Professor Ada Aharoni, has been a learning experience, we had several deep conversations on the Arab Israeli Conflict, and I was really amazed when she told me her story as a Jew who was uprooted for Egypt with all her 2500 year old Jewish Egyptian Community. This story was name by her: “The Second Exodus of the Jews from Egypt,” that occurred in the mid- twentieth century.
I was also amazed by the richness of the Peace Culture research and articles and stories which I read on the IFLAC websites. It has enriched my knowledge as a student of history and of Conflict resolution. It greatly helped me with the various articles I wrote under the tutelage of Prof. Ada Aharoni, and I am very glad some of them got published on amazon, in English and in Spanish (my mother tongue) as well as on the Iflac website, and on its IFLAC Digest, and in the PEACE Magazine in Spanish “UNILETRAS.”
IFLAC has made me open my eyes to the other historical side of the story of the Conflict between Israel and the Arab world. It has also given me tools and convinced me to work toward achieving peace with the help of literature and culture. For me, IFLAC has been a really rewarding experience, and I am very glad that I chose to Intern at this remarkable and so helpful organization. As its Logo states: THE PEN IS INDEED MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD.
I am glad to inform you that my film: THE POMEGRANATE OF RECONCILIATION AND HONOR, PRESENTED YESTERDAY AT THE CINEMATHEQUE IN TEL AVIV, WAS A GREAT SUCCESS. The film was chosen to be shown on November 30, the “National Day in memory of the expulsion of the Jews from Arab countries,” in mid twentieth century. I attach one of my peace poems that was sung in this documentary film, and that was highly praised.
The following poem is a Jewish – Egyptian blessing praising the relation between human beings and nature. The green week also represents all the good qualities and values in the world: especially peace, love and respect of the family , of life and of all humanity.
A Green Week
A week like fresh mint,
a green week spreading
its peaceful fragrance to the roots
of my being
“Have a green week!”
My father used to bless us
on Saturday nights in Cairo,
when he came back from the “Gates of Heaven”
the grand synagogue in Adli street
“Have a green year”
brandishing a fresh, fragrant mint branch
over our keen curly heads –
but don’t keep it just to yourselves,
that flourishing green week –
give it back
to the world
Who will give me
a green week
now that he’s gone?
Now that the Gates of Heaven
Only a fragrant mint peace.
I WARMLY THANK ALL MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS WHO CAME TO SHARE THIS MOVING EVENT WITH ME ON THIS NATIONAL DAY.
My name is Dan Luiton, I’m from the border region of USA-Mexico
called the Rio Grande Valley which has a combination of the Mexican and
American culture clash. I was born in the USA but raised in Mexico in the
border city Matamoros-Brownsville metro area. Therefore, I am a
Mexican-American. I am a third year student currently attending the
University of Texas at Austin, majoring in History. Moreover, this semester
I decided to do an exchange program in Israel at Haifa University. As a
passionate future historian I have travelled to Israel to learn a new
language and culture.
Why I chose IFLAC?
The reason I choose to intern at IFLAC is because I want to promote peace
and love through literature, not only because I’m a Christian, but also to
learn how to make peace in my home town – Matamoros in Mexico. The mission
of IFLAC is to bring peace by using our pens and this is something I’m
passionate about. My love for writing has the opportunity to have small
impact which can promote peace. Also, creating a culture of peace through
literature is a great means to bring peace, instead of using violence.
Furthermore, it will be a great honor to be interning with Professor Ada
Seven years ago violence erupted bringing bombings, blood, and bodies to my
home city and everything changed drastically. The state I lived in was
ranked the most dangerous state in Mexico. Living through this horror in
first hand make me want to do something to end this internal war, and IFLAC
is an opportunity to promote peace by not using violence but literature. For
this reason, I decided to intern with IFLAC. Moreover, as a Christian I want
to promote peace and love through literature, which is a perfect means to
change the perception of the world.
Reading the novel From the Nile to Jordan, by Prof. Ada Aharoni, has opened
my eyes to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, and it has made me look at the
conflict from both sides. This historical love story has inspired me to
bring peace, by telling the whole history of any conflict. For these reasons
I chose to intern with IFLAC.
By Dan Luiton
The Anti-Terror and Peace: IFLAC Anthology 2016 is a powerful and unique instrument to fight terror with powerful words of peace. In this book the main focus is to denounce terrorism, war, and violence and try to bring peace to our world. It contains, moving poetry, short stories, essays and interesting articles from different authors around the world. They surely succeed to express their feelings against violence and thus promote peace.
As a reader, I could not stop reading, each poem made me want to do something to bring peace. When I was reading the story of Father Francisco Jose de Raoux Humans or Wolves, about the wolf it made me reflect that even though he killed and ate those people from the community he was still forgiven and they cried when he died. This is a metaphor even though some humans can do terrible acts against other humans (like the Terrorist in Columbia, who were recently forgiven and they became a peaceful citizens), they can still forgive them and educate them so they won’t commit acts of terror again. The most interesting part of the story is that the community cried when he died, meaning they had a great emotional attachment to the wolf. This is interesting because the metaphor of this is that it doesn’t end in forgiving the person but also love them.
In the story of “What Peace, My Teacher?” by Adiela Londono de Copete, there was a student who was not writing a short answer about peace but rather played with his fingers. This student did not write anything because he did not see any peace anywhere due to his life’s experiences and the only joy to his life was coming to school. It was hard to understand at first but then I realize it’s difficult for him to define peace if it did not existed in his home.
One of the stories that I really liked is that one of Maria Cristina Azcona “Humanity and its Auto-Destruction,” where she states that even if humans are auto destroying themselves “the love and poetry are not dead.” “ Even if the starting point to rebuild [ours lives] is like the phoenix, rise from our ashes, as it has occurred since the world began.” In other words,the message of this wonderful story is: it says not giving up even if everything looks destructive.
I think that this unique IFLAC ANTHOLOGY has an important message that is to show and teach IFLAC motto that: the pen is mightier than the sword. Moreover, I think Ernestina Ramirez Escobar’s quote resumes all the Anthology’s message “War brings war. Let us join our voices in peace instead.” Amazing Anthology, that should be read by all, all over the world, and I highly recommend.
By Dan Luiton
Review of the book: FROM THE NILE TO THE JORDAN by Prof. Ada Aharoni
As a Mexican-American attending a liberal school in a conservative state in the USA, I have always seen the creation of the State of Israel as a horror event for the Palestinians, due to Palestinian false propaganda, but after reading this book it changed my perspective over this controversial issue. I, like many other students, was influenced by Palestinian students’ organizations around my school campus that Israel is an evil state that commits crimes against Palestinians; not only commits them but also legalizes laws that violate human rights. However, being raised with a Christian background, I was taught that I should always be pro- Israel no matter what they do which made me be indifferent about the Arab- Israeli conflict.
However, after reading the great historical novel: From the Nile to the Jordan, by Prof. Ada Aharoni, it enabled me to see a different perspective of the Arab- Israeli Conflict. Now I see the necessity for the Jews from the Arab countries, who were were uprooted from Arab Countries, though they had been flourishing Jewish Communities for more than 2500 years – to create a State of their own. As I read the book I felt sorrow for the heroine Inbar , not being able to identify herself as an Egyptian and trying to figure out what she was. Even though Jews were in Egypt for more than two thousand years and much before the Arabs arrived in the seventh century, they were not considered Egyptians. The Egyptian government labelled them as “welcome guests” of Egypt, but not citizens. This made me wonder how people can live in a country where they were born, and yet are not considered citizens even if their family had been there for centuries!
In this special book, I also learnt about the anti-Semitism that Europe was facing through centuries, which led to the Holocaust, and to the murder of six million Jews. This sad history was reflected in the book through Raoul’s tragic story and the influence on his character. In my opinion, these reasons enabled Jews to urgently find the need to be reunited and establish their own State. Now I see that the creation of the legal State of Israel, by the United Nations in 1948, was not a whim, but it was a crucial need due to the tragic historical circumstances they had been facing in East and in the West.
Later, when Inbar explained the tragic events that led to the “Second Exodus of the Jews from Egypt”, it made me open my eyes that the Palestinians were not only the victims in the creation of the State, but also the Sephardi Jews. The Egyptian government took away the work permits of the Jews, and all their wealth, before they sent out of the country, making them start from zero once they immigrated. Some died of heartbreak or got killed during the process. Then, coming to Israel, although they suffered some discrimination from the Ashkenazi-Jews against Oriental Sephardi Jews,
they managed to adapt to the new country, Israel, and they contributed a great deal in the building and defense of the new country.
This book made me understand deeply the Arab – Israeli conflict, by showing me another view, and historical facts I did not know. Also, it promotes peace between Arabs and Israelis because when the Palestinians find out that the million Jews who were ousted from Arab countries had gone through the same tragic experience as they had, and that the Palestinians are certainly not the only victims of the Arab- Israeli Conflict. Inbar’s character and actions in the book, promotes the idea and goal of peace between Jews and Arabs, and it also made me fully understand the crucial necessity of the establishing of the State of Israel.
For all the reasons above, and so much more, I think it is an amazing historical novel. I warmly recommend it to understand better the Arab- Israeli Conflict, and to encourage peace between Israelis and Palestinians, like between Israel and Egypt, and Israel and Jordan. This excellent book is a treasure and a truly eye–opener!
Shimon Peres first part of his excellent PEACE PLAN is the following: “There are some 400 million Arabs in the Middle East, and close to 1.3 billion Muslims in the world. Some 60% of them are under the age of 25. It looks to me like they won’t be able to pull themselves out of their current situation on their own. There are already some 130 million young people in the Middle East with smartphones. There are 9 million students, which is not a lot. The problem is that once they finish university, they cannot find work, because there is no high tech. None of their leaders did what should be done: not President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, not King Salman of Saudi Arabia and not King Abdullah of Jordan.
“The solution must come from the universities, using the model that already exists in Israel. There must be greenhouses for students, high tech and entrepreneurship. There are now 13,000 startup companies in Israel that were founded by students. Some of these students are already millionaires. They go to school, become entrepreneurs, receive money from investors and return the loans once they succeed. This model should be copied by the Arab world. Israel is a high-tech nation, but high tech has no flags. It is universal. The Middle East should be blanketed with high tech. I have been busy recruiting eight gigantic corporations for this project. High tech now has $24 trillion in reserve, $6 trillion of it in the United States. The investment funds are enormous.
“I tell them, ‘Friends, start thinking about the war on terror. Otherwise, it will destroy you. And no, you don’t have to kill terrorists. You have to kill terrorism. You have to create high tech and jobs. We need to recruit the Israeli Arab community for this, as well as high-tech leaders around the world. I had a talk with Michael Dell not too long ago. He recently merged his company with another huge company. There are hundreds of billions of dollars available now. I asked him, ‘Michael, what are you going to do with all that money?’ We agreed to meet in Davos. Trust me, we don’t need governments. They’re just a big headache with very little money. We need to recruit international corporations. I’m in talks with Cisco, Facebook, Google, everyone.”
“I tell them that there are four things, which must be brought to the Middle East: internet, broadband, the “cloud” and digital medicine. We have to present an enormous Marshall Plan for information, not money. We have to transform the universities into centers of entrepreneurship and technology. The leaders in the Middle East are making huge mistakes. Sisi is wasting billions of dollars on the Suez Canal. That is a mistake. I would not be surprised if I woke up tomorrow morning and read that Egypt or Saudi Arabia has collapsed. We have to propose this plan as quickly as possible. Anyone who wants can join.”
Peres then comes to the second stage of his plan, the political stage. “We were just speaking about John Kerry and his incredible diligence in resolving the Iranian crisis without a war, or even a cold war, and without the United Nations. He is completely dedicated to the cause. There isn’t an ounce of cynicism in him. That’s a huge thing in politics. He is genuine, and he put together an option that the whole world supported, apart from Israel. Now they are talking about imposing an agreement [on Israel and the Palestinians]. Why impose it? Netanyahu already agreed to a two-state solution with blocs of settlementsremaining under Israeli sovereignty. But Abbas can’t agree to Netanyahu’s settlement blocs. The Palestinians recognize three settlement blocs, while Netanyahu has seven or eight in mind. That is why the whole issue of a freeze on settlement construction is a waste of time. The world needs to present a plan for an arrangement based on what has already been agreed upon. The plan should be passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, and not the Security Council. It should be put on the table, without imposing anything on the parties. Anyone who wants can take part in it. It will be a kind of global statement of intent. Israel cannot function without the enlightened world, yet there are already companies that avoid Israel because of its policies. The Palestinians can’t stay behind either. They will have to join this big Marshall Plan. Accepting the arrangement will be a precondition for joining. That’s the whole idea.”
I asked Peres who will get his plan running. Who will be responsible for its implementation? “The world,” he answered. “Take Kerry, for example. He is capable. I went to see [Russian President Vladimir] Putin not too long ago. I said to him, ‘I’m 92 years old, and you’re 62. What do you want to do for the next 30 years? Conquer America?’ He told me no. ‘Do you think that America wants to conquer you?’ He answered, ‘Obviously not.’ Then I asked him if he has a hard time talking to [President Barack] Obama. ‘No,’ he said. ‘Obama is actually a nice guy.’ That’s when I told him that even though I don’t engage in espionage, I will be telling the Americans everything I talk about with him. He laughed. ‘I know,’ he said. ‘That’s why I’m talking to you.’ I like to think that it was because of this kind of mediation too that they [Americans and Russians] started to speak to one another. I think that the Russians will agree and the Chinese will agree. The Europeans will agree. [German Chancellor] Mrs. [Angela] Merkel will agree. After all, the whole world agrees with the two-state solution. It is not being imposed on anyone. It will be the consensus solution presented by the entire world, just as it happened with the Iranian issue. Instead of threats, the parties need to receive incentives. Then, anyone who agrees to sign on to and implement the program will join this immense Marshall Plan to advance information and progress.”
I asked him how he would convince Netanyahu, and how he would neutralize the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby and Netanyahu’s billionaires. “You can’t buy everything with money,” Peres told me. “Even [US billionaire Sheldon] Adelson can’t really buy the whole world. He doesn’t have $24 trillion. Netanyahu has the evangelicals in his pocket, but he lost the Democrats. Russia will agree. I am sure of that. Based on long talks that I have had, I am convinced that the Americans will, too, even though there are still some people there who believe Netanyahu’s promises. After all, Netanyahu agreed to a demilitarized Palestinian state, to three settlement blocs [remaining under Israeli control] and to a pre-agreed and just solution for the [Palestinian] refugee problem. We will resolve the problem of Jerusalem at a later date in two stages, rather than in one. Abbas will agree to that. I spoke to him about it. In the first stage, each religion will be responsible for its holy sites. The UN General Assembly will formulate and approve all the details. The agreement will be placed before it, as a kind of global statement, laying out the way forward. All the nations of the world will be partners in this agreement and act accordingly. Anyone who does not will be a pariah. I don’t think that there is anyone crazy enough here to reject this. Anyone who does reject it will remain behind. This opportunity will offer a veritable paradise, with trillions of dollars of investment in technology, science, universities and high tech. That is the future. People will not want to stay stuck in the past.’’
Nine months after this conversation, Peres suffered a stroke, which led to his death two weeks later, on Sept. 28. His final plan expressed his deep frustration with the Palestinian side, but also with the Israeli side. Nevertheless, he refused to give up. He hoped to harness his enormous love for science, technology and progress to benefit his other great passion: striving for peace.