Hope

I didn’t know how I would be affected by a trip to Israel. I thought that maybe it might be some famous temple, some cultural experience, or maybe meeting one of Israel’s leaders or technologists that would have touched me.

I wasn’t prepared for what did: a pair of piercing black eyes that belong to “Michael,” a boy a little younger than my own son, Patrick, who is 14. I was asked not to share names or photos by the people who introduced us. See, Michael’s eyes told me they had witnessed things that young eyes shouldn’t witness.

He was one of a group of students from Darfur who were studying at the Rogozin School in Tel Aviv. Here’s an article (PDF, sorry) that talks about the school and its Darfur refugees. A remarkable school where kids from 29 different countries study together.

Michael told me about his studies, introduced me to his classmate sitting next to him. I asked him if he knew how to use a computer. I knew my few moments with Michael were ticking away, our tour guides had other things for us to see and I wanted to be able to hear more about his dreams. His future. He answered that he did, and knew how to use email and the Web.

This young boy’s eyes showed me deep wisdom that will serve him well later in life. They gave me hope for the future. I hope I live long enough to see Michael become a leader of a new Israel: one where Palestinians and Israelis and Arabs live together in peace. He’s seen that future already. In the classroom.

Don’t think technology is important? What will your answer to Michael be when he emails you and asks you to join the peace movement?

Will you leave those penetrating wise eyes wanting?

Not me, I gave him my email address. I hope he writes and tells me about the future. His future. Why?

It gives me hope.

Comments

  1. If they’re not too private, and you’re both comfortable, could you share updates from these emails if he does write you? That would be wonderful.

  2. If they’re not too private, and you’re both comfortable, could you share updates from these emails if he does write you? That would be wonderful.

  3. I’m sending a boy in Uganda to school, and would be glad to write to your child from Darfur. I think I am going to Israel next year myself, so if you want to share email addresses, I will find him again when I go.

  4. I’m sending a boy in Uganda to school, and would be glad to write to your child from Darfur. I think I am going to Israel next year myself, so if you want to share email addresses, I will find him again when I go.

  5. With every corner of the globe in the shape that it is in, hope in these “children of tomorrow” is about all we have. Hopefully they will be wiser than our parents were and wiser than we are.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, experiences and feelings.

  6. With every corner of the globe in the shape that it is in, hope in these “children of tomorrow” is about all we have. Hopefully they will be wiser than our parents were and wiser than we are.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, experiences and feelings.

  7. Pretty humbling experience. Sadly there is always conflict in the world often because one side thinks they are right and other side is wrong. It takes a view from both sides of the coin, and the difficult problem is resolving what is often an issue going back for hundreds of years. Northern Ireland is a case in point, that we all hope has been resolved, but it lasted for decades. It took a fresh open minded view to make progress.

  8. Pretty humbling experience. Sadly there is always conflict in the world often because one side thinks they are right and other side is wrong. It takes a view from both sides of the coin, and the difficult problem is resolving what is often an issue going back for hundreds of years. Northern Ireland is a case in point, that we all hope has been resolved, but it lasted for decades. It took a fresh open minded view to make progress.

  9. Very thoughtful post, Robert -reveals the deeper side of you.
    On May 10th, TED is supporting Pangea Day http://www.pangeaday.org/ – which is the result of a TED 2007 prize wish. This global “festival” will feature video stories like the one you told here about Michael. Finding a way to peace through understanding “the other” in short film interviews.

    You should discard your geek mantle on occasion to delve into interviews like this one.

  10. Very thoughtful post, Robert -reveals the deeper side of you.
    On May 10th, TED is supporting Pangea Day http://www.pangeaday.org/ – which is the result of a TED 2007 prize wish. This global “festival” will feature video stories like the one you told here about Michael. Finding a way to peace through understanding “the other” in short film interviews.

    You should discard your geek mantle on occasion to delve into interviews like this one.

  11. Thanks for sharing this moving story. It opens the complex dialougue of peace, which is more complex than many of us fully understand.

  12. Robert, Greensboro has a “sister city” relationship with one in Israel; we have a Hebrew High School (one of the very few egalitarian ones in the US) and we send HS kids every year to 2-month programs in Israel – tuition paid by anon givers. We also have an organized technology partnership. Please either send or bring this youngster’s email info with you when you’re here in October and let’s see if we can get the IT high school kids (first year at CS) involved in a sort of online mentoring or friendship.

    Israel will touch you when you step on the ground and meet the people. It doesn’t require a building to reach your soul.

    As far as peace goes, I still hope it happens in my lifetime. Somehow, I believe the PEOPLE of Israel (Israelis and Arab-Israelis, some of whom are Christian and some Muslim) want peace and get along in human relationships. It’s the rhetoric that’s killing everyone, aided by guns, bullets, rockets and stones.

  13. Robert, Greensboro has a “sister city” relationship with one in Israel; we have a Hebrew High School (one of the very few egalitarian ones in the US) and we send HS kids every year to 2-month programs in Israel – tuition paid by anon givers. We also have an organized technology partnership. Please either send or bring this youngster’s email info with you when you’re here in October and let’s see if we can get the IT high school kids (first year at CS) involved in a sort of online mentoring or friendship.

    Israel will touch you when you step on the ground and meet the people. It doesn’t require a building to reach your soul.

    As far as peace goes, I still hope it happens in my lifetime. Somehow, I believe the PEOPLE of Israel (Israelis and Arab-Israelis, some of whom are Christian and some Muslim) want peace and get along in human relationships. It’s the rhetoric that’s killing everyone, aided by guns, bullets, rockets and stones.

  14. Thanks for sharing this moving story. It opens the complex dialougue of peace, which is more complex than many of us fully understand.

  15. Robert, a very thoughtful post. Mixing up children from different origins gives them the right perspective as they learn that they all can get along.
    You might also want to have look at the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation which has been focussing on giving international children a brighter future.
    http://www.pestalozzi.ch/sw451.asp

  16. Robert, a very thoughtful post. Mixing up children from different origins gives them the right perspective as they learn that they all can get along.
    You might also want to have look at the Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation which has been focussing on giving international children a brighter future.
    http://www.pestalozzi.ch/sw451.asp

  17. Robert, beautiful post. It’s tragic that these young children are the ones left to bear the costs of conflicts that are not their own. Thank you for telling this story.

  18. Robert, beautiful post. It’s tragic that these young children are the ones left to bear the costs of conflicts that are not their own. Thank you for telling this story.

  19. I had the pleasure and honor of being on this trip with Robert and witnessing myself this incredible group of courageous children. I’ll concur with the compliments about this post. Robert – I’ve been having a devil of a time sorting my thoughts to write about that day, and your post has helped crystalize a few thoughts of my own.

  20. I had the pleasure and honor of being on this trip with Robert and witnessing myself this incredible group of courageous children. I’ll concur with the compliments about this post. Robert – I’ve been having a devil of a time sorting my thoughts to write about that day, and your post has helped crystalize a few thoughts of my own.

  21. I’m glad that the first thing you reported upon your return was not the political climate or technological state of affairs, but the impact one young person had on you. Very touching, Robert. Thank you.

    In that country torn by strife, I wish Michael and all his friends well. And I pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

  22. I’m glad that the first thing you reported upon your return was not the political climate or technological state of affairs, but the impact one young person had on you. Very touching, Robert. Thank you.

    In that country torn by strife, I wish Michael and all his friends well. And I pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

  23. When I was young, each summer, a local charity brought Irish kids over to live together. These were Protestant and Catholic Irish kids from the North who didn’t intermix in Ireland due to the ‘Troubles’. Taken out of that environment for a summer they got passed their suspicions and found each was more alike than different. Many formed lasting friendships that crossed the religious and political bondaries put in place by their elders and carried these forward back home in Ireland. Ireland has peace today and I believe that is so in no small part due the summers these kids spent together changing them and their country for the better. So yes Scoble, there is hope.

  24. When I was young, each summer, a local charity brought Irish kids over to live together. These were Protestant and Catholic Irish kids from the North who didn’t intermix in Ireland due to the ‘Troubles’. Taken out of that environment for a summer they got passed their suspicions and found each was more alike than different. Many formed lasting friendships that crossed the religious and political bondaries put in place by their elders and carried these forward back home in Ireland. Ireland has peace today and I believe that is so in no small part due the summers these kids spent together changing them and their country for the better. So yes Scoble, there is hope.

  25. This is the kind of topic I would like to see more bloggers talking about.

    Thanks for writing this and keep it up. You always inspire me to blog. :)

  26. This is the kind of topic I would like to see more bloggers talking about.

    Thanks for writing this and keep it up. You always inspire me to blog. :)

  27. it is very strange indeed israel giving shelter to refugees from africa when they cant take care of its nieghbour , scoble you should have visited palestine, surely you would found scores of children with more sorrow in that ravaged country – mocha gracias to israel

  28. it is very strange indeed israel giving shelter to refugees from africa when they cant take care of its nieghbour , scoble you should have visited palestine, surely you would found scores of children with more sorrow in that ravaged country – mocha gracias to israel

  29. I’d wager the problem regarding Israel/Palestine are the small, extremist parties in the Knesset who are hell bent on keeping Israel Jewish, aided by the extreme Zionists in Britain and the United States forcing a great deal of military aid to Israel, including nuclear weapons.

    Most Israelis are not in favour of the occupation, irrespective of its legality. If their so-called democratic government would pay attention to the populace, they’d decide to make peace.

    Final point, the Arab Israelis, including the Palestenians, are out-breeding Israelis to the point that there will be more Arabs in Israel than Jews (and definitely Zionists).

  30. I’d wager the problem regarding Israel/Palestine are the small, extremist parties in the Knesset who are hell bent on keeping Israel Jewish, aided by the extreme Zionists in Britain and the United States forcing a great deal of military aid to Israel, including nuclear weapons.

    Most Israelis are not in favour of the occupation, irrespective of its legality. If their so-called democratic government would pay attention to the populace, they’d decide to make peace.

    Final point, the Arab Israelis, including the Palestenians, are out-breeding Israelis to the point that there will be more Arabs in Israel than Jews (and definitely Zionists).

  31. Hasan, right on.

    This American Jew has had it with the unconditional support. Make peace or go it on your own. I’ve gotta get along with my neighbours, you yours. Why not theirs?

  32. Hasan, right on.

    This American Jew has had it with the unconditional support. Make peace or go it on your own. I’ve gotta get along with my neighbours, you yours. Why not theirs?

  33. @22 There’s an old adage that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. I wish you’d get your head out of your rear-end long enough to actually see things from the other side.

  34. @22 There’s an old adage that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. I wish you’d get your head out of your rear-end long enough to actually see things from the other side.

  35. I’m in interested Robert: are you following @podblanc the white supremacist and rascist? He is following you – and with his tweets re: Adolf Hitler, I’d like to know your response to responsibility of social media to align our social values along with our “we media” distribution channels. (my link goes to the Twitter podblanc racism blog post). Is auto-follow such a good idea in this case? If you are not following him, could you also let us know? – I noticed that other (social) media entities are…

  36. I’m in interested Robert: are you following @podblanc the white supremacist and rascist? He is following you – and with his tweets re: Adolf Hitler, I’d like to know your response to responsibility of social media to align our social values along with our “we media” distribution channels. (my link goes to the Twitter podblanc racism blog post). Is auto-follow such a good idea in this case? If you are not following him, could you also let us know? – I noticed that other (social) media entities are…

  37. Robert,

    Great post. More posts like this across the blogosphere would go a long way.

    We as Americans and Western Europeans take so much for granted what with our nice homes, toys, cars, fast Internet connections, etc.

    Displaced children the world over need posts like this to bring them to the attention of people who can help them get ahead.

    Jesus willing, these kids will grow up in peace and work towards the same for the betterment of their world and ours. They are, after all, the future.

    I would love to see you follow up on these kids if you can at some point. Perhaps some photos, another story, etc. What would be doubly cool would be to see some of these kids sponsored to come to the US to study and see what’s possible for them. Adoption is another great idea for displaced kids. There are so many of them who truly need our love and attention.

    Way to go, Robert!

  38. Robert,

    Great post. More posts like this across the blogosphere would go a long way.

    We as Americans and Western Europeans take so much for granted what with our nice homes, toys, cars, fast Internet connections, etc.

    Displaced children the world over need posts like this to bring them to the attention of people who can help them get ahead.

    Jesus willing, these kids will grow up in peace and work towards the same for the betterment of their world and ours. They are, after all, the future.

    I would love to see you follow up on these kids if you can at some point. Perhaps some photos, another story, etc. What would be doubly cool would be to see some of these kids sponsored to come to the US to study and see what’s possible for them. Adoption is another great idea for displaced kids. There are so many of them who truly need our love and attention.

    Way to go, Robert!

  39. So I guess you aren’t emotionally broke-up over Microsoft’s telescope software anymore?

  40. So I guess you aren’t emotionally broke-up over Microsoft’s telescope software anymore?

  41. I have been to Israel and its good. But like any other country it has its share of problems. Guide told us not to go to Arab villages. But its a beautiful place

  42. I have been to Israel and its good. But like any other country it has its share of problems. Guide told us not to go to Arab villages. But its a beautiful place

  43. Robert, in following you on twitter, you never leave me without questions and wonder. I could only dream of having the oportunities youv’e had while overseas promoting technology. I tip my hat to you for this article you have been humble enough to share with the rest of the people that like to read what you have to say. I was blessed to travel to the far east of Russia multiple times and did see some similar situations as you. Thank You, I just wish the human race would just remember that the children are the worlds future, quit making more hurdles for them and help them go further than any generation before!

  44. Robert, in following you on twitter, you never leave me without questions and wonder. I could only dream of having the oportunities youv’e had while overseas promoting technology. I tip my hat to you for this article you have been humble enough to share with the rest of the people that like to read what you have to say. I was blessed to travel to the far east of Russia multiple times and did see some similar situations as you. Thank You, I just wish the human race would just remember that the children are the worlds future, quit making more hurdles for them and help them go further than any generation before!

  45. Robert, just adding to the kudos here. As a full-time Darfur activist/community organizer, I want to thank you for posting this touching entry. I hope you will share any updates you get about the Rogozin kids! Thanks again.

  46. Robert, just adding to the kudos here. As a full-time Darfur activist/community organizer, I want to thank you for posting this touching entry. I hope you will share any updates you get about the Rogozin kids! Thanks again.

  47. Thank you dear, I’ve updated my blog post on Twitter and Racism. <3 Laurel/SilkCharm P.S. I just spent a week in Saudi Arabia teaching Arabic women about social media. We should compare notes o.O

  48. Thank you dear, I’ve updated my blog post on Twitter and Racism. <3 Laurel/SilkCharm P.S. I just spent a week in Saudi Arabia teaching Arabic women about social media. We should compare notes o.O

  49. Just when I was pining for the old Scoble you pen this touching experience. Thank you for sharing a segment of this crazy world I would have otherwise missed. Reminds me of how powerful a blog can be.

  50. Just when I was pining for the old Scoble you pen this touching experience. Thank you for sharing a segment of this crazy world I would have otherwise missed. Reminds me of how powerful a blog can be.

  51. I hate to do this:

    I am by instinct, but,

    “Hope without pragmatism = idealism.”

    The problem with many of the sentiments here is they are just that, the same naval-gazing sentimentality that permeates much of the blogosphere.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza200804

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=164441&title=jeffrey-sachs&byDate=true [@ 3.40, but try watching all]

    The problem I find with our western culture is that our politicians and interest-groups have indulged our ignorance and emotion, to encourage being quick to judge and condemn, sometimes nothing more than xenophobia, sometimes self-interest.

    For example how many people in America knew before 2 years ago that Israel had Nuclear Weapons. that they jailed a man who informed the world for 20 years and still won’t let him talk to the press (a democratic country, or like burma?), The fact that the founders of Israel were terrorists who killed jewish people; that everyone claims to be an ally of Israel, and it claims to be an ally of everyone who’s support it needs, yet has repeatedly acted duplicitously with subterfuge and just disloyalty/spying against those same countries.

    That’s just the surface of Israel.

    Move on to Africa/Darfur and there’s even more detail and ethics involved there. That sentimentality that wants to blame the nearest large player is as mis-directed and naive as much else, where getting panicky might get in the way of emotional manipulation, blaming big bad rich foreign evil china.

    No one is innocent. It helps to know the details.

    How much of america still believes in the right to travel how they want as often as they want, oil in america is amongst the cheapest in the world; 5% of it’s population yet 20% of it’s waste, has been for decades, yet china/india start to come pass it and it almost immediately wants to blame them before it will do anything itself, let alone the bigotry of anti-free-trade.

    Where to start, where to end.

    With all this information, we are becoming more stupid -at times; and at other times, with the younger/interweb generation, we are more able to coalesce as a culture, but the simple fact that culture is a liberal one (“lets all be happy, but you have to accept everything we do”, Our Human-Rights definitions) in terms of our mind-share, rather than an agnostic one,, ruled by said sentimentality, that then can create it’s own conflicts.

    The truth will set you free.

    If you want peace in the world, first accept that it’s almost impossible, but you ‘ll keep trying, then accept your faults, then move from there, IF you want peace. It took Australia how many centuries to fully officially apologise for its crimes against the aboriginies (and they still live in poverty); it wasn’t until the latter part of the last century when America started belatedly compensating native Americans; When Israel does the same and publicly gains the humility to admit to itself and the world what it has done for the absolute cause of zionism, to apologise and pay compensation, then and only then will their be peace -If america simply said it’s not our business, They’d be around a negotiating table within a beat, not choosing as any colonialist, WHO they negotiate with.

    The rest of us are lucky that most of the world doesn’t count the blood we have on our hands -we do live in democratic societies, right?!?

    Peace doesn’t come from easy self-satisfying quick platitudes.

    Yours kindly,

    History and Humility – Always in Hope!!

  52. I hate to do this:

    I am by instinct, but,

    “Hope without pragmatism = idealism.”

    The problem with many of the sentiments here is they are just that, the same naval-gazing sentimentality that permeates much of the blogosphere.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza200804

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=164441&title=jeffrey-sachs&byDate=true [@ 3.40, but try watching all]

    The problem I find with our western culture is that our politicians and interest-groups have indulged our ignorance and emotion, to encourage being quick to judge and condemn, sometimes nothing more than xenophobia, sometimes self-interest.

    For example how many people in America knew before 2 years ago that Israel had Nuclear Weapons. that they jailed a man who informed the world for 20 years and still won’t let him talk to the press (a democratic country, or like burma?), The fact that the founders of Israel were terrorists who killed jewish people; that everyone claims to be an ally of Israel, and it claims to be an ally of everyone who’s support it needs, yet has repeatedly acted duplicitously with subterfuge and just disloyalty/spying against those same countries.

    That’s just the surface of Israel.

    Move on to Africa/Darfur and there’s even more detail and ethics involved there. That sentimentality that wants to blame the nearest large player is as mis-directed and naive as much else, where getting panicky might get in the way of emotional manipulation, blaming big bad rich foreign evil china.

    No one is innocent. It helps to know the details.

    How much of america still believes in the right to travel how they want as often as they want, oil in america is amongst the cheapest in the world; 5% of it’s population yet 20% of it’s waste, has been for decades, yet china/india start to come pass it and it almost immediately wants to blame them before it will do anything itself, let alone the bigotry of anti-free-trade.

    Where to start, where to end.

    With all this information, we are becoming more stupid -at times; and at other times, with the younger/interweb generation, we are more able to coalesce as a culture, but the simple fact that culture is a liberal one (“lets all be happy, but you have to accept everything we do”, Our Human-Rights definitions) in terms of our mind-share, rather than an agnostic one,, ruled by said sentimentality, that then can create it’s own conflicts.

    The truth will set you free.

    If you want peace in the world, first accept that it’s almost impossible, but you ‘ll keep trying, then accept your faults, then move from there, IF you want peace. It took Australia how many centuries to fully officially apologise for its crimes against the aboriginies (and they still live in poverty); it wasn’t until the latter part of the last century when America started belatedly compensating native Americans; When Israel does the same and publicly gains the humility to admit to itself and the world what it has done for the absolute cause of zionism, to apologise and pay compensation, then and only then will their be peace -If america simply said it’s not our business, They’d be around a negotiating table within a beat, not choosing as any colonialist, WHO they negotiate with.

    The rest of us are lucky that most of the world doesn’t count the blood we have on our hands -we do live in democratic societies, right?!?

    Peace doesn’t come from easy self-satisfying quick platitudes.

    Yours kindly,

    History and Humility – Always in Hope!!

  53. Robert-

    Excellent post, its good to see you moving in the direction of becoming a philanthropic traveler!

    Consider this story…

    Marc Gold was set on the path he now travels when he was just a child, when his father, photographer Albert Gold, explained “the meaning of life.” He took the 8-year-old into the bathroom and had him look in the mirror. Gold recounts the conversation:

    Albert: ”What do you see?’
    Marc: ‘I see myself.’
    Albert: ‘Okay. How old will you be in 70 years?’
    Marc: ’78.’
    Albert: ‘Okay, when you are 78 years old, look in the mirror again and ask yourself one question, because by then your life will be almost over: ‘Did you live a life that made this a better world or not? Very simple. If the answer is yes, I am proud of you, and if not, I am disappointed.’
    Marc: ‘But how am I going to make this a better world?’
    Albert: ‘That’s your job. You figure it out.’

    Learn More:
    http://tinyurl.com/5qra5n

  54. Robert-

    Excellent post, its good to see you moving in the direction of becoming a philanthropic traveler!

    Consider this story…

    Marc Gold was set on the path he now travels when he was just a child, when his father, photographer Albert Gold, explained “the meaning of life.” He took the 8-year-old into the bathroom and had him look in the mirror. Gold recounts the conversation:

    Albert: ”What do you see?’
    Marc: ‘I see myself.’
    Albert: ‘Okay. How old will you be in 70 years?’
    Marc: ’78.’
    Albert: ‘Okay, when you are 78 years old, look in the mirror again and ask yourself one question, because by then your life will be almost over: ‘Did you live a life that made this a better world or not? Very simple. If the answer is yes, I am proud of you, and if not, I am disappointed.’
    Marc: ‘But how am I going to make this a better world?’
    Albert: ‘That’s your job. You figure it out.’

    Learn More:
    http://tinyurl.com/5qra5n

  55. Robert : thank you for the post. It’s time for us alltogether to stop thinking about ourselves. And start thinking about our children’s children’ Earth. It’s time to think about the people.

  56. Robert : thank you for the post. It’s time for us alltogether to stop thinking about ourselves. And start thinking about our children’s children’ Earth. It’s time to think about the people.

  57. Hi Robert,
    This is indeed interesting and exciting. I reported my own little experiment in social networking with kids at my post titled “open their minds. Break the borders” here: http://or-tal.com/?p=17
    I was excited at how quickly they realized the value of social networking, introduced to them at the Jeff Pulver networking breakfast. They are looking for ways to connect to other people for the sheer pleasure of connecting and learning.

  58. Hi Robert,
    This is indeed interesting and exciting. I reported my own little experiment in social networking with kids at my post titled “open their minds. Break the borders” here: http://or-tal.com/?p=17
    I was excited at how quickly they realized the value of social networking, introduced to them at the Jeff Pulver networking breakfast. They are looking for ways to connect to other people for the sheer pleasure of connecting and learning.

  59. May Israel will start being more human to the refugees in oppose to what they are!…

    Thank you robert for your article.
    Eran

  60. May Israel will start being more human to the refugees in oppose to what they are!…

    Thank you robert for your article.
    Eran