My name is Aviv Ayash. Born in 1987, both sets of grandparents immigrated from Morocco with the establishment of the Jewish State of Israel, leaving all of their possessions behind them. I grew up in a very Israeli Zionist family; we kept Jewish tradition and I never had to consider the question of what was stronger – Jewish tradition or secular life. I was brought up to be a good person in the most simplistic meaning of the word.
I carry an Arabic family name (ayash), at home we used to listen to Arabic music (om kalthoum) and eat traditional Arabic food (Moroccan food – the best food ever!) I believe that’s why I was always inspired by the Arabic culture. Ever since my childhood, the reality of life in Israel has triggered an interest in broadening my knowledge in matters related to cultures and relations between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority in Israel.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has caught much of my attention, and within this framework, I decided to take action and volunteer for an international organization called SEARCH FOR COMMON GROUND that organizes meetings between Israelis and Palestinians from the territories captured by Israel in 1967. The organization’s mission is to provide both Palestinians and Israelis with a platform to discuss the conflict and to generate personal discourse. It also enables participants to practice in negotiation exercises and to gain the tools to develop leadership skills. The meetings took place in Jericho and Jordan and enabled me to express my opinions and above all, to meet other people who live in a reality like mine, to share my thoughts and feelings and to hear theirs.
My own changing experience was the trip to Amman last year which was fascinating for me because it was my first time in an Arabic country outside of Israel. The smells, the food dishes, the sounds, and the great people we meet were amazing! Something in those sights reminded me of my own home. I think at that point I understood what it means to live in the place that’s called the Middle East – yes, we have a few things we do not agree on and maybe we don’t like the same things but we are still more alike then different. This trip just motivated me more to be the one who can lead to a better future.