Home Hope Flowers School Education LinksIn Appreciation This page is dedicated to my dear friend, Hussein Ibrahim Issa, founder and director of the Hope Flowers Al Amal School. Hussein gave all who touched him a most precious gift: the hope that one day our two peoples, Jewish and Palestinian could live together in peace and friendship.
On March 5, I wrote the following to friends of PEACE and Mid-East Web:
With great sadness and shocked disbelief I report that Hussein Issa, beloved friend and founder, director and principal of the Hope Flowers School in El Khader, Palestine, has died of heart disease. According to information received from the community of Hope Flowers friends, Hussein died in an Israeli hospital on March 5, 2000, where he had been transferred after hospitalization in Bethlehem in poor and deteriorating condition. Hussein was but 52 years old.
Hussein devoted his life to teaching peace, democracy and coexistence. He grew up in the Deheisheh refugee camp. From these impossible beginnings that might foster hate and despair in another person, he emerged to become a renowned educator and fighter for peace. He built the El-Amal (Hope Flowers) school beginning in 1989 to show Palestinians the way to a better future, and travelled around the world to lecture on peace education.
Hussein fought fearlessly against the forces of darkness surrounding him on all sides, building his school and carrying on his work in the face of great financial need as well as the opposition of the authorities. Despite his illness, he was tireless. He frequently and jokingly welcomed me and others to "the club" - the club of those who go without in order to pursue the cause. He was never afraid to stand up to physical threats as well.
I flatter myself by thinking that from the first moment that I met Hussein, less than two years ago, it seemed to me that we were destined to become fast friends and soul-mates. Perhaps he made this impression on everyone. My participation in MidEast Web came about in large part because of the desire to help Hope Flowers school, not only as a good cause in the abstract, but out of admiration for the personality, dedication and warmth of Hussein. I had hoped to collaborate with him in raising funds for peace education projects. Now we shall not get the chance.
We all regret that we did not spend more time and effort helping Hussein with Hope Flowers. Now that he is gone, we shall build a living memorial to him by shielding and nurturing the small candle of hope that he lit, and making the light of peace education and brotherly love glow brightly in our corner of the world.
All friends of peace in the Middle East mourn the loss of a respected teacher and beloved brother.
From: Hagit Raanan
For almost a year I had the unique privilege to be allowed to assist Hussein doing the sacred mission he took upon himself. Once a week I used to go to the school to assist in any possible way. Hussein was a very determined person whose stormy brain often created new ideas, mostly quite extraordinary. For example he sought a course where the school's teachers could learn about the Jewish Holocaust as part of Jewish history and of the Jews' desperate need for a homeland. Another idea he had was to bring together Palestinian and Israeli teachers o share educational views and to get to know each other's society better, based on the understanding that the only way is for the societies to live together in peace and understanding. He never rested, always looked for more ways to cooperate in order to deepen mutual respect and respectful acceptance, to enrich the students and the school team with his love and faith. May his soul rest in peace!
The paper is too short to go deeper into details of all his ideas. He was a very special person who put his mission before anything else. All he wanted to do is work for the benefit of his people. Sometimes it seemed like he was working against all odds. Now we know that he paid the most expensive price to carry out his vision - he paid with his health until his tragic passing away, and his family and the school family have paid with his loss! Allah Yerachamo!
I wish to take this opportunity also to forward my heartfelt condolences with his brave family, dearest wife suns, daughters - that suffered his struggles but always fully confident to back him up continuously. Also to all Hope Flowers' family, students and employees. I dearly love all of you and forever will cherish Hussein's memory in my heart.
Soon after his passing away, a group of supporting friends decided to find ways together with Hussein's family to keep the school idea going on, that was Hussein's main concern, we must keep it as it is his last will.
Kiriot Ono, Israel
From: Virginia Baron
I share your sadness about the death of Hussein. Thank you for sending the messages and for the work that you do in the same spirit of friendship and reconciliation that characterized Hussein and the Hope Flowers School. Please convey the sympathy of so many of his friends to his family for us. Thank you.
Virginia Baron, USA
From: Gary Gordon
I too have great respect for Hussein, We met him in 1996 as part of a mixed religious group traveling to Israel/Palestine. He charmed all of us Jews, Christians and Muslims and made us feel like one people with a common purpose. Hussein had charisma bigger than life and focus like we may never see again. As you say, he was brave and committed to the peace process even before it was popular to do so. Too live for a half century as such a menche and a mentor is something that Hussein's family can truly be proud of. The chain is not broken but a large chunk of it has been removed. Thanks tothis man, hope itself survives and perhaps that is his greatest gift.
Salaam Hussein! Gary Gordon (Bridges for Peace) Duluth, Minnesota
From: John Erlich
I want to offer my condolences on the passing of Hussein Ibrahim Issa. (I
am a member of Za'atar, the Mizrahi Jewish folk band that performed at Jewish Voice
for Peace's fund raiser event which benefitted the Hope Flowers School.) I
hope that we all honor his memory by continuing the work to which he dedicated his
John Erlich, USA
From: Nahum Meyers
Please accept my deep condolences at Hussein's passing. Your letter of March 6th was touching. It is sad to lose a friend and it is sad to loose a comrade-in-arms, especially when there are so few such comrades.
Nachum Meyers, USA
From: Lincoln Shlensky
Please consider reporting the untimely death on March 5th, 2000, of Hussein Ibrahim Issa, 51, the Director of the Hope Flowers School near Bethlehem, in the West Bank.
Hussein Issa grew up in difficult conditions in the Deheishe refugee camp, but because of his persistent vision of peace, tolerance and democracy was able to found the Hope Flowers School, the only Palestinian school (to my knowledge) that actively engages in cultural and educational exchange programs with Israeli schools. Because of his principled commitment to the importance of pursuing peace, Hussein Issa and the Hope Flowers School have frequently been subject to harassment and defamation from all quarters. And yet the school has managed to survive and thrive due to a network of international supporters.
Hussein Issa died of heart failure, but his school, and the hopes he nurtured, shall not die with him.
A Jewish Voice for Peace
San Francisco CA, USA
From: Barbara, Sy & Niki Landau
We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Hussein Issa. He was a wonderful man and an inspirational leader. Of all the amazing people we met on our Mid East Citizen Diplomacy mission, Hussein stands out for his deep commitment to a peaceful future in which all people - starting with children, will create the conditions for sustainable relationships. His vision was peace through understanding and appreciation and acceptance of differences. He conveyed a real respect for personal democracy across religious, cultural, gender and social class lines. He gave the children in his care wonderful gifts of hope and love and dreams of justice in the midst of disappointment, unfairness and injustice. He had a powerful effect on me in one day - imagine his impact on all the students whose lives he touched! Thank you for the opportunity to meet this extraordinary man. My wish is that Hope Flowers will continue in his spirit to fulfill his goals. Barbara, Sy & Niki Landau
From: Bonnie J. Gehweiler
I send my condolences and sorrow to the family of Hussein Issa. He was indeed a visionary.
Several Work-Study Teams which I led have visited and worked at Hope Flowers School. We were impressed with the vision which Hussein had for peaceful co-existence through democracy and freedom. I knew that he was not well and I convinced him to go with me to see a physician friend. They diagnosed very high diabetes. That was not a good combination with his heart problems. We have prayed for his health for several years and I am saddened that his hard work caused his death. We were pleased to support the school financially in several occasions.
Please accept this note of sympathy to all the family. I remember when they all came to see us in our hotel in Bethlehem. What fun it was with cake and ice cream! I will never forget that evening.
Salaam-and Love to each. Bonnie J. Gehweiler
I was very upset to hear about Hussein Ibrahim Issa having passed away and for sure those that ever had any contact with this extraordinary gentleman will always hold a very special place for them in their hearts and memories.
I am a staff member of the International Department of Givat Haviva and visited the Hope Flowers School on a number of occasions with overseas groups I was dealing with on seminars, and also met with Hussein Ibrahim Issa on numerous occasions when he was in Givat Haviva - the last time was when he was accompanying a group of Palestinian pupils who had come to Givat Haviva for an encounter with Israeli youth.
I, like many, much appreciate your effort in creating a memorial Web page - and may his memory be blessed and the so important work and educational establishment that he created continue - I will give any future support possible to ensure that this will be so.
In sadness, Lydia Aisenberg, Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek.
From: Libby and Len Traubman
Hussein Ibrahim Issa, 52, died of chronic heart disease on March5th, 2000.He was
perhaps the greatest-ever Palestinian of the public peace process. There was no brighter
beacon of light from the Middle East than Hussein Ibrahim Issa and his Hope Flowers School
for Palestinian children.
May he be stronger in death than in life. May he never really die, because we, and those who follow in our footsteps, remember him. Recalling Hussein Ibrahim Issa, may each of us continue to be stronger, purer, committed carriers of light and cooperation in this Great Work of the public peace process for the good of all.
Libby and Len
Mideastweb Middle East Conflict News History Israeli-Palestinian Conflict