One of the examples of coexistence in the Galilee
that was described at the conference is the region’s largest hospital, the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, where Jews, Moslems, Christians, and Druze work together
. This hospital is responsible for providing medical care to approximately 600,000 citizens. Dr. Masad Barhoum
is a Christian Arab and the General Director of the hospital. “The minute people step through the gates of our hospital, they stop being Arabs or Jews, soldiers or civilians, left or right - they are either medical personnel or patients”, he said. He noted that approximately 1200 Syrians with severe or life-threatening injuries have been treated in the Galilee Medical Center. “Injured people from Syria arrive here after living through hell on earth, and they come with complex problems, both physical and mental. To provide them with care is a moral obligation and a great privilege.” During the conference, KKL-JNF raised money that will be allocated for a new garden in the entrance to the Galilee Medical Center, where people will have a venue for meeting each other. Money was also raised for landscape development around the Keshet Alon School of Music in the Northern Galilee.
Another guest from Israel was Raya Strauss Ben Dor
, a philanthropist who is involved in various initiatives leveraging tourism
and the economy. She is also a supporter of the Galilee
Medical Center. “I feel honored to be here,” she said, “and I am grateful for the efforts made by KKL-JNF in this region. Change can only happen by working together in the spirit of partnership, and I am happy to be a partner of KKL-JNF in the Galilee.”
The subject of the afternoon panel discussion was “Daily coexistence in Germany - Ticking bomb or cultural enrichment?” The panel, which was moderated by RTL Television’s Lothar Keller
, included Stephan Kramer
, President of the Authority for the Protection of the Constitution in Thuringia; Armin Laschet
, Federal Vice Chairman of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) party; Ahmad Mansour
, Palestinian-Israeli expert on Islam and the program director of the European Foundation for Democracy; and Sylvia Löhrmann
, Education Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia. Everyone agreed that there are some great examples of peaceful coexistence, but they receive much less media exposure than news like the Sylvester events in Cologne. In respect to Israel, media reports tend to prioritize expressions of conflict rather than areas of agreement. All the panel participants agreed that the positive stories of peaceful coexistence are foundations that can be built upon.
The conference featured a number of different programs on the topic of coexistence, including a discussion between Dr. H. C. Joel Berger
, the retired Rabbi of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, and Manfred Rekowski
, Chairman of the Protestant Church in the Rhineland, on the issue of Christian-Jewish coexistence today. An exhibition featured information on Israel in the fields of tourism, art, science and more. Johannes Guagnin
, Foreign Relations and Research
Coordinator for KKL-JNF’s Afforestation
Department, delivered a fascinating lecture on afforestation in semi-arid regions
. Musical accompaniment was provided by the Epstein Klezmer Tov trio and Israeli performers Galit Giat
and Moshe Becker
, who had everyone on their feet. Conference participants had a lot of new information to absorb, and the sentence “we learned a lot about Israel, it was a really intense day” was something one could hear everywhere in the Flora.