American Board Chair Stuart Brown's Response to Vandalism of Jerusalem School

To Members of the Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem:

You have gathered as a community to support each other, to show pride in your school and to affirm your beliefs. I hope there are a great many people with you.

On behalf of American Friends of Hand in Hand, it is a privilege for me to say on that you have even more friends than you can see. You can’t see us, but we are with you today —

  • You have friends who have visited your school and who you have met on trips abroad — and they are with you today.
  • You have friends who you have never met and who have never even been to Israel — and they are with you today.
  • From the U.S. and Canada to South America and Europe, wherever in the world people of good will care about a better future for Israel and all its citizens — you have friends who are with you today.

All of you — students, teachers, principals, parents and families — are pioneers in a long and difficult journey.  The Hand in Hand vision,  “Learning Together – Living Together,” is a powerful idea that challenges old beliefs.  You are creating a practical reality based on ideals that were mostly left to dreamers — until your school was opened.  There will be obstacles and difficulties along the way.  Last week you faced one, there will be others.

Yes, there will be difficulties; but in this school, you are creating every day the better future that others have only dreamed about.

  • The future belongs to students who study and learn together — not to those who display their ignorance in large letters on stone walls.
  • The future belongs to teachers and principals who work together with colleagues whose backgrounds and ideas may be different from their own — not to those who see value only in their own beliefs.
  • And the future belongs to families who live together with neighbors of different religions, traditions and cultures — not to those who reject anyone who is not the same as them.

Although you have gathered today in response to an ugly incident, this incident is not what makes your school special.  What makes your school special is the learning together and working together that happens every day.  The daily routine of your school will not make headlines in the news — even when you have the highest scores on a civics exam or win a national science competition — but it will make you successful as individuals, as a school, and ultimately as a community that shows the way for an entire nation.

So, when you go back to class and back to work, remember this: your many friends – both in this room and around the world — are counting on you to build a better future for everyone.

Stuart Brown
Chair of the Board
American Friends of Hand in Hand

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