February 3, 2010, Updated September 12, 2012

Operation Respect teaches children to express their feelings and resolve conflicts creatively. It just launched in Israel, with the visit of its founder Peter Yarrow, of the folk trio Peter Paul and Mary.


It’s Israel’s newest operation: respect. Operation Respect: Don’t Laugh At Me is an American educational initiative that has seen great results in 22,000 schools in the US, Hong Kong and Croatia. Now it hopes to repeat that success in two Jewish and two Arab schools in Israel as part of a pilot project.

Its founder and leader, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary fame, came to Israel to launch the pilot version of his initiative. Local pop icons David Broza and Amal Murkus joined Yarrow, singing Hebrew and Arabic translations of his program’s catchy theme song.


Members of the choir Voices of Peace perform at Rashadia school in Lod with singers Peter Yarrow, David Broza, Amal Murkus, Idan Toledano and Kevin Salem.

“In this program that we are doing, we are hoping that the children learn how to respect each other and treat each other kindly as family, no matter what their background is, no matter what their religion is, no matter what happened in the history… we can leave that behind enough to say, ‘We could be friends.’ How do you do that? You do it with love and inspiration and music,” Yarrow tells ISRAEL21c.

Iman Huni, a Muslim Arab from Jaffa, says: “When Peter came and sang the song Don’t Laugh At Me the first time, it was the first time that I felt that someone wanted to make peace starting from within the person himself. He comes and asks you, “What do you feel? How are your feelings?” instead of just coming and saying that we need to change the world – without giving you a starting point.”

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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