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Visit by French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave

Wednesday 24 September 2014

On Monday 22nd September we were honored to receive the French ambassador to Israel H.E. M. Patrick Maisonnave.

M. Maisonnave was welcomed by a group that included WAS-NS co-founder Ms. Anne Le Meignen, new municipal chairman Mr. Adnan Manaa, Communications office staff Ms. Rita Boulos, Mr. Howard Shippin and intern Ms. Liat Tuv. We were joined also by francophone village members Yair and Corrine Ben-Shabbat. The Ben Shabbats had made the initial contact with the ambassador through a mutual friend, who joined for the visit.

Adnan Manaa gave a welcoming speech (attached) thanking the ambassador. In the letter, he mentioned our recent experience with the Gaza conflict and our attempts to garner humanitarian assistance for Gaza hospitals in its aftermath. The ambassador agreed that from his own perspective and that of his government, the war had achieved little or nothing.

Rita Boulos gave a general introduction and provided an overview of the village and its educational institutions. M. Maisonnave listened attentively, asking questions and commenting.

Afterwards we began a walking tour of the village, visiting first the School for Peace. There, he was received by director Dr. Nava Sonnenschein and program manager Mr. Wasim Biroumi. They explained the objectives, programs and methodology of the School for Peace. They paid special attention to current change agents programs. The ambassador showed much interest in their work, asking many questions, and engaging in a fruitful discussion.

The next stop was the Primary School, where we were greeted by the new principal, Ms. Carmela Ferber. The ambassador asked numerous questions about the school and visited the fourth grade English class taught by village member and teacher Ms. Raida Aishe-Khatib. M. Maisonnave spoke directly with the children, asking how they felt at the school. All those who responded said they were very happy to be at the school because it enables Jewish and Palestinian students to learn together peacefully.

The short walking tour ended with a light lunch at the Ahlan café back at the village entrance. While enjoying local delicacies lovingly prepared by café patrons Dyana and Rayek, we engaged in further discussion about the work and goals of the village. We were also joined by an additional francophone village member, Prof. Yair Auron.
The ambassador showed great interest in the community and expressed a keen understanding of the issues with which it is engaged. He promised to return to the village for another visit in order to understand our work and goals in more depth.

We are very appreciative and happy that the French ambassador chose to visit our village and hope that this will lead to further useful cooperation with the embassy.

Welcome Speech by Adnan Manaa


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