Aiding Victims on Both Sides

Aliyana Traison
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Aliyana Traison

Two weeks ago, friends Daniel Sieradski and Amy Fay Kaplan were in Jerusalem talking about what they could do to be a "positive force in the world" now that the cease-fire has set in, when a third friend called and suggested organizing a benefit concert for displaced residents of the north.

"If we can raise money for people in the north and people in Lebanon simultaneously, we're in," they told Shimshon Stuart Siegel.

On Monday, The Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem is hosting Acharei HaMilchama ["after the war"], a benefit concert for relief organizations giving direct aid to civilian victims of the war in northern Israel and in Lebanon.

"Our mission is twofold," the organizers say: "To collect funds that will be evenly distributed and used to provide direct aid to Israeli and Lebanese refugees, and to create awareness that we, as Jewish people, are moved to compassion for all those whose lives have been ill-affected by war."

The three American-born organizers have differing views on war and the situation in the Middle East, but say they are "joined together in the conviction that concern for human beings should transcend politics."

The proceeds from the show will go to several organizations, including Table-to-Table's Northern Relief Campaign. According to the organizers, finding a group that can distribute aid in Lebanon through an alternative channel to Hezbollah is a major concern.

"We are making it a priority to find an organization we can support with integrity," said Kaplan, a student at Jerusalem's Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo. They have also been in contact with the Joint Distribution Committee's Middle East Program, the American World Jewish Services, the Union for Reform Judaism's Religious Action Committee and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Sieradski, director of the non-profit organization Matzat and editor/publisher of the weblog, called the event "an opportune moment" to raise funds for victims of war and "to show the Muslim community and the wider community that [there are Jews in Israel] who regret their suffering."

Siegel is a student at the Bat Ayin yeshiva.

Sieradski said the response has been overwhelmingly positive, with donations already flowing in, but added that they also received calls from people telling them that by giving half the proceeds to Lebanon they were supporting terrorists.

"I don't give much merit to these comments because they're wrapped up in the ideological perspective that got us into this mess," Sieradski said. "This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with Jews helping people. We're all human beings, we're all life."

The event will feature Jewish and Arab musicians including Eden Mi'Qedem, a Middle Eastern fusion band, Israeli hip-hop artist Sagol 59, and Samech "Saz" Sachuth, a 20-year-old Arab-Israeli rapper from Ramle. The minimum donation is NIS 50 at the door.