Ada Aharoni, the respected Israeli writer and peace activist, has won an international prize for her biography of a heroic Egyptian Jewish nurse.
The French translation of Not in Vain – an Extraordinary Life (Thea Woolf – La Femme en Blanc de l’Hopital d’Alexandrie), which charts the life and work of the head nurse of the Jewish Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt during World War II, won first place from 3,000 entries for the Prix du Temoignage (Testimony Prize) 2015.
Egyptian-born Aharoni explains that her French publisher, Manuscrit and the Huffington Post sponsored her trip to Paris for the prize-giving. The video clip shows her receiving her prize from actor-director, Guillaume Gallienne.
”It was an awesome and most enjoyable event”, she said.
Her entry was chosen by all 15 judges who admired the harmonious Jewish - Moslem relations evoked in the story, showing how through the hospital and aided by Egyptian officials, hundreds of European Jews found refuge from the Nazis.
Ada Aharoni (born Andrée Yadid in 1933) is founder-president of IFLAC - the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace – and a recipient of the President Shimon Peres Award for Peace.
She has published more than 20 books, including peace poetry, historical novels and biographies since her first collection, Poems from Israel, appeared in 1972.
The poem below, one of her best known works, is from her collection, Not In Your War Anymore (1997).
“A Bridge of Peace
"They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid." (Micah, 4.4)
“My Arab sister,
Let us build a sturdy bridge
From your olive world to mine,
From my orange world to yours,
Above the boiling pain
Of acid rain prejudice—
And hold human hands high
Full of free stars
Of twinkling peace
“I do not want to be your oppressor
You do not want to be my oppressor,
Or your jailer
Or my jailer,
We do not want to make each other afraid
Under our vines
And under our fig trees
Blossoming on a silvered horizon
Above the bruising and the bleeding
Of poison gases and scuds.
“So, my Arab sister,
Let us build a bridge of
Where each shall sit with her baby
Under her vine and under her fig tree—
And none shall make them afraid
AND NONE SHALL MAKE THEM AFRAID”.
© Natalie Wood (31 January 2015)