November 29 1999 was a busy day for the village. At almost the same time we were involved in three separate events. The first, at 11 a.m., was the visit by runners from the "Peace Run to 2000", who had already run through Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, bringing messages of peace from all of those places. The Peace Run is an international event involving some 120 countries, and was first initiated in 1981 by members of the Sri Chinmoy organization. The runners came from various European countries from Scotland to the Ukraine, and some were from Israel. They ran with the children, rekindled a torch, and sang together a song describing the peace run.
At 12:30, all of the school children and many others walked over to the forest that borders the village to take part in an event in honor of Israel's famous peace pioneer Abie Nathan. Now confined to a wheel chair and ailing, Abie Nathan spent his life in the service of peace and humanity. In 1962, he made a peace flight from Israel to Egypt, while the two countries were formally at war. Twice, he spent terms in prison for meeting with Yasser Arafat and members of the PLO when this was against Israeli law. He used his pirate radio station, the "Voice of Peace" to mount humanitarian missions to areas of disaster and suffering all over the world.
The occasion was the dedication of an area of the woods for a "peace tabernacle" (Sukkat Shalom) by the Jewish National Fund (who are in charge of Israel's forests). The event was attended by former Prime Minister and current Minister of Regional Development, Shimon Peres, former mayor of Tel Aviv Shlomo Lahat (both of whom have visited the village before), and officials from the JNF.
NSWAS occupied a large part in the ceremonies since the children of the School opened and closed the event with songs. The speakers pointed to the appropriateness and symbolism of placing the Peace Tabernacle just outside NSWAS. Jewish National Fund director Yehiel Leket said there could be no better location, since the village "every day demonstrates genuine coexistence between Jews and Arabs." He said the message of the village should be a central one for the people of Israel, since NSWAS "expresses better than any other place in the country the ideals of Abie Nathan, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres."
During the afternoon, yet another important event followed. This was a visit, sponsored by the German Embassy, of about 100 German volunteers currently in Israel. Barbara Meyer of the Guest Center staff organized the event, which included a general introduction to the village by Daoud Boulos, seminars with Daniella Kita'in and Shai Schwartz, and a buffet meal in the Hall of the White Dove, which was attended by officials from the Embassy. The German volunteers of NSWAS were also happy to play host.
Barbara originally approached the Youth Attaché of the Embassy with the idea that it would sponsor activities for German volunteers in Israel. She was told that unfortunately no money was budgeted for this purpose, but then the idea came to take advantage of a budget clause that does exist. Every year the German volunteers are invited to a get-together meal. The youth attaché decided that NSWAS would be a fine venue for this, and the event was arranged. The biggest surprise was the large attendance - practically everyone on the list actually came.