It doesn’t happen often enough but occasionally I read about an Arab or Israeli peacemaker who desperately wants peace – peace for both sides.
Gershon Baskin, a Jewish peace activist pictured above, seems to genuinely care about the Palestinian people. Perhaps it came from living from 1979 to 1981 as a community worker in Kafr Qara, a Palestinian Arab village in Israel. In 1983, Baskin founded and directed the Institute for Education for Jewish Arab Coexistence. In March 1988 Baskin founded the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI). Baskin, together with other Israelis and Arabs, has worked for years to secure peace between Israelis and Arabs, including talks with Hamas.
He is no stranger to sitting at the table of peacemaking.
But most recently, Gershon Baskin, has had a new passion: potatoes. More specifically, Israeli potatoes for hungry Gazans.
(Below are excerpts from various articles.)
When Gershon Baskin learned that the Israeli Vegetable Growers’ Association had a 5,000 ton surplus of potatoes slated for destruction, he immediately thought of the Palestinians suffering without electricity, food, and homes.
Instead of the government paying the farmers half a shekel a kilo to destroy the crop, he reasoned, why not raise the money and pay the farmers for the surplus crop so the potatoes could help the hungry in Gaza?
It could be a win-win situation, he thought. The farmers can’t sell the produce anyway and they would get the same money they would receive from the government for the crop. The people in Gaza who haven’t been able to grow crops because many fields have been bombed out will receive much needed food.
To purchase the surplus potatoes for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Baskin figured that he needed a total of $750,000, so he turned to the Internet to start raising funds.
Although he didn’t reach his goal by the cut-off date for the campaign, Baskin was impressed with the response that his effort did receive. “It was all kinds of people,” he says of the donors. “There were a lot of Jews, both in Israel and America and Britain.”
Despite the shortfall of money, Baskin said he will overcome the difficulties in getting the surplus potatoes to those in need in the Gaza Strip.
“The hard part is dealing with the logistics,” he says. “It’s frustrating because I am just waiting for people to give me answers. . .but it’s not going to fall through.”
“We’ll get them the potatoes.”
My last blog post was called, “Gaza, Syria, Iraq: ‘God, Why Don’t You Do Something?'” (http://www.ilovemuslims.net/2014/08/gaza-syria-iraq-god-why-dont-you-do-something/). It referred to a song decrying horrible situations in the world today. The writer of the song looked to heaven and asked, “God, why don’t you do something?” In a sobering response, God said, “I did. I created you.”
Gershon Baskin seems to be someone who understands this well. He is “doing something” – Israeli potatoes for hungry Gazans.