The language of caring was the common tongue as 45 Israeli and Palestinian eight- and nine-year-old girls showered affection on homeless dogs, cats and horses at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel’s Tel Aviv shelter on March 23.
It was the second time these girls have come together for joint activities under the auspices of the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, SPCA humanistic education director Yaniv Ovadia tells ISRAEL21c. And he hopes it won’t be the last.
“If Israeli and Palestinian children can work together for the benefit of animals in distress, there is hope of working together and living together in peace and harmony despite their differences,” he says. “Animals really don’t care about stuff like religion, race or nationality; all they want is to be treated with respect, and that’s something we can all learn from.”
Because the girls from Beit Shemesh don’t speak Arabic and the girls from Jericho don’t speak Hebrew, Ovadia gave his presentation alongside an Arab educator from Jaffa, and the Peres Center provided translators throughout the activity, dubbed “New Spring – New Hope.” They were accompanied by the ambassador from Egypt, the American vice consul and diplomatic representatives from Switzerland.
“The girls seemed to be forming nice friendships, even though there was always translating between the two sides,” says Ovadia, who encouraged participants to show the formerly abused and neglected creatures that people can be caring and empathetic.
“Humanistic education is not just about our attitude toward animals; there is a strong connection between the way we treat animals and the way we treat each other,” says Ovadia. “I believe humanistic activities with animals help us all treat with each other with dignity and understanding.”
At the end of the tour, the young guests enjoyed vegan pizza donated by Domino`s Pizza in Tel Aviv, and a vegan cake donated by Moshe Ahuvi from the Piece of Cake bake shop in Jaffa.