Kivunim @10

By Maria Mejia and David Andersson

On December 20, the organization Kivunim, founded by Peter Geffen, celebrated its 10th Anniversary at the Synagogue on 88th Street in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. At the event, the inaugural presentation of the Reverend M. L. King and Rabbi A. J. Heschel Award was made to King Mohammed V of Morocco. The award was accepted by his granddaughter, the Princess Lalla Hasna, who was joined by a large delegation of the Moroccan community in New York, including Omar Hilale, Moroccan Ambassador to the UN, local imams, and other dignitaries.

King Mohammed V protected the Jews in Morocco during World War II and refused to comply with the French Vichy government’s order to give yellow stars to the Jew and have them ready to be deported to camps.

Kivunim is a year gap program for young Jews who are interested to learn the history and experience the present of the Jewish communities in Israel and around the world. Every year students travel to Morocco and visit the largest Jewish community in the Arabic-speaking world to experience a culture where Jews and Muslims are living together in peace and understanding. The students have found that they were welcomed into the country with open hearts as the Moroccan people do not exhibit xenophobia or any culture discrimination.

The event received some press coverage in the Arabic world and Europe (see page on Kivunim’s site) but the mainstream media in the US was totally silent. At some point, the US press will have to explain its obsessive interest in violence and discrimination, giving daily coverage to racist presidential candidates instead of promoting human values and giving voice to people who are working on social justice, conflict resolution, against discrimination and in favor of science, health, education and the environment — those who are trying to elicit the best from each of us day after day.

A few days before the Kivunim event, Mr Geffen participated on our show Face 2 Face. Invoking the analogy of Hanukah, a Jewish holiday where you light a new candle each day, he said: “You can fight darkness only with light, only light will bring peace and nonviolence.