Penny S. Tee
May You Live in Peace, שלום and سلام.

Peace between Israelis and Palestinians Exists Today—Join Us

PEACE with Penny Celebrates 3rd Anniversary!

Hello TOI Readers,

This is my first Times of Israel Blog post. Let me introduce myself, my name is Penny S. Tee. I’m the host of our vodcast, PEACE with Penny, speaker, author of “BLASTED from COMPLACENCY: A Journey from Terror to Transformation,” blogger, educator, mom, and wife. We just celebrated our 3rd Anniversary Special at PEACE with Penny and we have a library of over 100 interviews of Israeli and Palestinian Peace organizations that can be found on our PEACE with Penny YouTube Channel or on under Podcasts.

What do I mean, Israelis and Palestinians are working together on Peace during a war? The Israel-Hamas War is four months old. I can hear my mother from her grave, “What are you, meshuga (crazy)?” Yes, you guessed it, I’m an American Jew. I have to smile, the older I get, the more Yiddish expressions pop out of my mouth. You know the ones your mom used to say that as a teenager, you’d roll your eyes at?

No, it’s true. Hundreds of Peace organizations have existed for years, several even more than twenty years, whose members are Israelis and Palestinians. What do you do on a Peace vodcast when the two sides go to war? We asked the Peace organizations who told us it’s more important now than ever for people to know that Israelis and Palestinians can live in Peace, regardless of what their leaders are pushing. The politicians don’t seem to feel the obligation to put the safety of their people as the top priority.

These folks are willing to set aside their very valid grievances, who’ve even lost children to the conflict, and realize retaliation can’t bring their loved ones back. Yet they move forward, striving with one another to try and make their neighborhoods safe to live in.

Even during war when emotions are high, we know Israelis and Palestinians want Peace! Peace is the only means to an acceptable future, that makes sense, the only solution that can bring an end to violence. Every day the organizations we interview try hard to move closer to achieving Peace at the grassroots level.

The greatest disservice the world-wide media has perpetrated is presenting the horrors of war ad infinitum, and too often ignoring the Peacemakers. Their attitudes of, if it bleeds, it leads, blasting pictures daily on our electronic devices of grieving parents hysterically holding their dead children in their arms, has hypnotized the world, and a few of my relatives, into believing there never will be Peace in the Middle East.

These images of Hamas’ use of human shields are seared into our hearts, and the thought to look further into the whys and what’s happened is confronted by, “There is no need, I’ve seen too much,” and anger, disgust, blame, and retaliation follow. Israel is blamed, case closed.

And adding to the horror is once again the Jewish voice is being ignored, and what’s worse, being attacked whether it be our people or Israel. Antisemitism and Islamophobia have markedly increased. When will the world choose a gentler path of solutions that preserve the rights of all?

The reward for our kids working so hard to get into universities was their administrations’ ignoring their fear and refusing to protect them—complicit with harm to students. As parents, it’s hard enough to send our young adults free to fly and forge their own paths, but before, we at the very least thought they would be safe. If we were Israelis sending their kids off to the mandatory military, fear and reluctance would be expected, but college?

It’s hard to believe but it’s been a decade since I’ve dedicated my life to Peace. By the way, you’ll get used to me capitalizing Peace, in my way of thinking, it’s too important not to. I started PEACE with Penny as a platform to get the word out that there is hope and Peace is possible. Even during a war, hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians long for a future when their kids can play safely in their backyards. In fact, both sides have put in the energy and time, and there have been pockets of Peace scattered throughout the land they love for years.

The horrific events on October 7th started the Israel-Hamas war, and who knows when it will end? The heinous acts were beyond cruel, they were evil. And what parent can watch the agonizing videos of hysterical parents holding their dead children in their arms without recoiling? Israel’s demand to righteously defend themselves, while mostly ignoring the international reaction, will unfortunately be a shadow that will never disappear, fodder for accusing Israel of genocide. It was like watching a video of two cars about to violently crash and knowing there wasn’t anything that you could do about it. At what point is the lack of intention to hurt civilians shoved aside by the numbers? May the memories of the loved ones lost be a blessing.

The death toll in the Israel-Hamas war is staggering and unrelenting. These are not numbers, these are humans, one is too many children, whose lives have been horrifically cut short or uprooted searching for safety. Our parents didn’t let us pummel our siblings when we disagreed, why are nations allowed to? When hate is reinforced, the story will end miserably.

Peace is filled with challenging interactions. One of the most important skills is listening—you must keep your mouth shut and listen with both your mind and your heart. Often another person’s narrative can be downright offensive, but you must learn where they are coming from before you can even attempt to build a bridge toward Peace.

We’ve been surprised by how many Israelis and Palestinians meet for the first time and are astounded to find out how much they have in common, starting with the fact that they both are human beings—unfortunately, some are taught otherwise in their textbooks.

These NGOs approach Peace from many different angles: medicine, the environment, music, art, communication, education, academia, women’s rights, sports, language, health and interfaith dialogue, even using cartoons, sometimes concentrating on specific communities, and for all ages, adults or kids, with education in schools and in summer camps trying to reach everyone including the younger generation who will be tasked with trying to solve this mess.

You may be wondering, why would this American Jew, nearly 7500 miles away work so hard on Peace? The reasons are covered in my book, “BLASTED from COMPLACENCY: A Journey from Terror to Transformation in Israel.” It is the true account of my family’s vacation in Israel, in July 2014, when we found ourselves at war—touring incredible, sacred places by day and cowering in bomb shelters at night.

I’m still trying to get over the Jewish guilt of taking my son to war for his bar mitzvah present!

The missiles landed just close enough to blow up my world as I knew it—today I devote my life to Peace. One month before we left on our trip to Israel, I had my first class with Jean Houston, the mother of the Human Potential Movement. It was called, “Finding Your Life’s Purpose.” In Israel, I believe I did. I’ve had nine classes with Jean now and it was actually her idea for me to do a podcast.

I recently heard of the term Post Traumatic Growth; that process of going through a traumatic situation, and it changes your life positively. I think PTG describes what happened to me.

In my wanderings throughout the Peace world, I met a wonderful mensh named Michael Hunter Ochs. He’s a multi-platinum and award-winning songwriter who writes both within the Jewish world as well as for pop stars, film, and television. He has a passion project with a Palestinian Peace partner, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about him in my future writings. One of the songs I love is called, “A Healing Song Refuah Shlema.” Refuah Shlema is the Hebrew version of Get Well Soon. I often send it to people when they need to heal. I find comfort in music, do you? I think all the world could use a listen, so I asked Michael if I could have permission to share it with you. He graciously consented. During these harsh times, from my perspective, I’d say the entire world needs comfort. Here’s the link: “A Healing Song Refuah Shlema,” is the sixth song down and then look a little further, passing up the video of how he wrote it, to just the song. Yes, getting to the song is a bit kludge, but in today’s world, what isn’t? I hope it helps you.

I love what I do, and I hope you will too. Aren’t you ready for good news regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? I’m sure along the way a blog about something with just a Jewish theme, or internal Peace will sneak in, it’s just who I am. As far as Peace, there is hope, if you know where to look. The people I have the honor to interview and write about are amazing human beings, devoting their lives to making this world a better place.

Join Me on My Journey.

May You Live in Peace, שלום and سلام.…

About the Author
Penny S. Tee is a vodcaster, speaker, author, and educator. She interviews Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, together forging a better future. Why? Read her book, “BLASTED from COMPLACENCY: A Journey from Terror to Transformation in Israel,” which describes her 2014 family vacation in Israel—daily touring sacred places, and cowering in bomb shelters at night. The missiles blew up her comfortable world—today she devotes her life to Peace.
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