Text: Solveig Hansen
On September 4, Ada proudly received the Israeli President’s Award for Volunteerism, for promoting peace initiatives between Jews and Arabs.
“Ada Aharoni, I am very impressed by all the wonderful work you do for promoting Peace Culture and Peace between Israel and her neighbors,” President Shimon Peres said when he presented her with the Award.
The ceremony took place at the official residence of President Peres in Jerusalem. Ada invited 45 guests to attend the ceremony with her.
Dr. Yosef Gotlieb, Chair of IFLAC Jerusalem, writes:
I was invited to the ceremony by my dear friend, Dr. Ada Aharoni, a writer, poet, scholar and activist who was one of the six leaders and five organizations – eleven in all award winners. Ada was recognized for her outstanding life contributions since the early 1970s on behalf of “peace culture between Arabs and Jews.” I have come to know Ada in the context of the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace (IFLAC), a group active all over the world and composed of people of letters dedicated to the advancement of peace. Ada, who immigrated alone to Israel from Egypt at the age of seventeen, is a former chair of the World Congress of Egyptian Jews and a tireless fighter for coexistence and understanding.
Despite the afternoon heat, President Peres actively participated in the ceremony. His words conveyed wisdom, experience and benevolence and he was warmly received. He spoke about the vital role volunteerism played in the state-building process. He asserts that it remains a core value of the Israeli national ethos.
One of the President’s most incisive remarks related to the rising role that civil society and volunteer organizations play in public affairs. He believes that government authority is being replaced around the world by civil initiatives and popular will channeled into action.
I believe that the President, who is keenly aware of emerging trends, is right on the mark and this is one of the basic messages I make in Rise, A Novel of Contemporary Israel, where the Rise movement is the instrument of change at a time when the government is unwilling or unable to advance the interests of the country’s citizenry.
Text: Solveig Hansen
On September 4, IFLAC Founder and President Ada Aharoni will receive the “President Shimon Peres Award for 2012”, for the spreading of the Culture and Literature of Peace in the Middle East and in the World.
This is the most prestigious award in the field of volunteering in Israel. It is given each year to six leaders and six organizations. Ada is one of the leaders this year and is awarded the Prize for her work in the spreading of the Culture of Peace since 1974, when she founded “The Bridge of Jewish and Arab Women” together with her departed friend Ruth Lys. IFLAC was established in 1999.
“I was away on an enjoyable sailing trip to Greece, and when I came back I had the lovely surprise to learn that I have been selected to receive the prestigious award,” Ada says. “Sometimes we have the feeling that nobody notices our hard and continuous peace work, but when the President of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres, who is a Nobel Prize Laureate, and beloved and honored by the whole world, notices, appreciates, and awards his Prize for 2012 to the Founder-President of IFLAC for the promotion of the Culture of Peace, it gives us a lot of satisfaction and hope.”
The Award ceremony will take place at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, with 800 guests and media coverage.
About Ada Aharoni
Professor Ada Aharoni is a cultural sociologist and peace researcher, writer, poet and lecturer. Today, in her late seventies, she is still hard at work. Her latest peace culture work includes videos on YouTube about the Second Exodus (English and Hebrew), the migration of Jews from Arab countries after the State of Israel was established in 1948. Ada was one of them. She was born in Egypt and spent her childhood years there. In 1949, she and her family had to emigrate and leave all their belongings behind. They went to live in France. Ada shortly after moved to Israel, at the age of 16. She has written about this Second Exodus in her historical novel called From the Nile to the Jordan.
See also her research paper on the Forced Migration of Jews from Arab Countries and Peace (PDF), and her article Peace and Harmony between Israelis and Palestinians based on Mutual Recognition of National Aspirations, in which she writes: “Processes that take place in a society are rarely reversible; repair of wrongs and compensation of suffering cannot usually be accomplished by a return to the previous situation but by the creation of a new situation that is beneficial while appropriate to the new conditions.”
She has written 25+ books in Hebrew, French and English. The latest one is Perah Nadir – Rare Flower, dedicated to her daughter Tali, who lost the battle against cancer.
In her article The Power of the Poem and Peace Through Poetry, Ada writes: “In every conflict there are two stories. The Poem of Peace has the wonderful ability to understand both sides, and to present both sides in all its reality, pain, hope and yearning for peace.” The two sides are beautifully and painfully depicted in This Cursed War and Remember Me Every Time the Moon Rises Over the Sphinx, inspired by diaries found on fallen Israeli and Egyptian soldiers during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
In another article on peace poetry, she writes about the World War I poet Wilfred Owen, one of “my favorite poets who has greatly influenced my outlook on life and my creative work.”
Some of her poems are put to music, including: