Message of Hope from Israel

Barak Loozon is the Director for Young Adult Engagement for Israel at the Israel Center of the Jewish Community Federation in San Francisco and a Community Shailach. That’s an awfully big title for a guy who comes off in person as the Israeli-born guy next door.
Barak has an impressive list of accomplishments for anyone his age, but what is most remarkable about him is his commitment for peace and his hope for a positive future in Israel, despite all obstacles, and despite his own background.
You see, Barak has some good reasons to hate Muslims and Arabs. His grandparents were from Libya, where they lived until Mussolini’s soldiers invaded during World War II and dragged them off to a concentration camp. When the war was over, they returned to their former home, expecting to be welcomed back by their Muslim neighbors, who they thought were their friends. Instead, they were stabbed, and their home was burned down.
They fled to Israel, where Barak’s grandfather recounted his story, and as he grew up made sure to remind him, “Whatever you do, don’t trust the Arabs.”
As if that weren’t bad enough, in April of 2003, Barak’s 17-year-old sister and her boyfriend were enjoying the evening at Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv when a suicide bomber exploded a device, killing three civilians and wounding over 50 others. The bomb carried by a second attacker failed to detonate.
Among those injured was Barak’s sister’s boyfriend, who is still suffering from his wounds to this day. While uninjured physically, Barak’s sister also bears her own scars from the incident, and no longer smiles. According to Wikipedia, joint responsibility for this act was claimed by Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
How remarkable it is, then, that this young man has devoted so much of his life to bringing together Israeli Jews, and Muslims from Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, to sit down with each other, to recognize each other as human beings, and to talk about the topics that are so important to them.
How amazing that this man, who says he has no set solution, continues to hope for peace and continues to work toward promoting understanding among Israel, her neighbors, and the rest of the world.
Barak’s life’s work and his commitment to peace shows that, even under the most trying circumstances, good will and understanding can win out over hate and fear.
(Photo: pol sifter)