Amos Elon

Amos Elon, was one of Israel’s most celebrated intellectuals, renowned for his powers of observation and his scathing criticisms. In 1970 he was already a well-known correspondent for the newspaper Ha’aretz when he published his seminal book The Israelis: Founders and Sons. Throughout his life he published more than 10 books and was a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books.

As a journalist and essayist  his reports bubbled with wit and panache, evincing the sort of elegant playfulness laced with serious intent that typified another cultivated, assimilated Viennese Jew, Theodor Herzl.  Elon’s 1975 biography of Herzl, who articulated political Zionism in the 19th century, vividly portrayed the man with all his quirks, inventiveness and shortcomings, not least his failure to recognise the presence of Arabs in Palestine.

In Jerusalem: City of Mirrors (1990), an affectionate yet ultimately sorrowful book, Elon lamented how Arab and Jewish ideologues had mythologized and manipulated the city so that its inhabitants “hated [their] fellow man to the glory of God”.

In 2002 , his last book, The Pity of It All: A History of Jews in Germany, 1743-1933, highlighted years of unequalled German Jewish success in the arts, science and enterprise, that all abruptly ended with the rise of Hitler.

Nationalists and even some leftists condemned Elon for decamping to Tuscany in 2002. Yet Israel still remained in him; he continued to analyze current events and predicted future troubles with frightening accuracy. In 2004 he warned that, without any promise of a Palestinian state, Israel’s impending evacuation from Gaza was merely creating a “powder keg”. And last year, despite the onset of his final illness, in a New York Review of Books essay, he expertly teased out the conflicts and contradictions of the Olmert administration.

Amos Elon

Philip Touitou

was born in Algeria . A month after the French withdrew from Algiers Philip and his family arrived on the shores of France, and moved to La Rochelle. Both his father and his mother had been banned from attending school in Algiers during the war and therefore were determined to succeed in their new Life in France.  Philip’s father  later became a director of a Parisian hospital but soon became very ill. When Philip was 16 years old he died. Philip never felt at home in France; he left for Israel in 1982. When told he had to enlist and fight in the first Lebanon war he left the country. He made his way to New York and worked his way up in the demanding city, becoming manager in some of the most upscale restaurants in the city. Ultimately he decided to follow a long forgotten dream to become a photographer and enlisted in the International Center of Photography in New York While studying he took on an intense job at Splash Light Studio and, as he carried sand bags and light poles, he also trained in Studio lighting. He soon began photographing for prestigious international companies such as Ceci Cela, Les Mandarain Oriental, Moma and LAFCO. When he decided to following his partner Danae Elon to Israel he believed that his work as a photographer would only flourish and that the challenging  encounters with the Middle East would bring out the best in him. The reality proved to be something else, and for the next three years he found it difficult to find the same opportunities that New York had afforded him. As a consequence he turned his lens on the reality of Israel/Palestine and completed a vast amount of stunning personal gallery work. Since moving to Montreal Philip has established Lilip Studio and returned to work on the more commercial side of photography.

Philip Touitou

Tristan, Andrei and Amos Elon

Tristan and Andrei were both born in New York. Tristan was born in 2005 and Andrei in 2007.. The two boys were an indirect focus of Danae’s documentary film Partly Private, a film questioning the ritual of male circumcision. When the family moved to Jerusalem, Tristan was four and Andrei was almost three. They were expecting a younger brother. Amos, who  was born in the Mount Scopus Hadassah hospital in East Jerusalem just 3 months after their arrival.
Tristan and Andrei spent their entire time in Jerusalem attending the Max Rayne bilingual, bi-cultural Hand-in-Hand school. When the family left Jerusalem, they moved to Montreal. The boys now attend FACE, school for music and art. The school is split between the English and French school boards. Ironically on their first day of school they came home claiming that the English and French sides hated each other.

Tristan, Amos and Andrei Touitou Elon

Luai Musa Hatib

Luai was born in Jerusalem to Rim Al Hatib and Majd Musa. His mother Rim grew up in Ashkelon and his father in Acca. His mother Rim’s family was the only Palestinian family to remain in the town of Al Majdal Asqalan ( which became Ashkelon) after the 1948 Palestinian Nakba. The circumstances of being the only Arab family among an entirely Jewish population brought Rim to grow up alone and somewhat displaced from her real identity. She endured difficult times, growing up during heavy times of conflict as the only Arab girl in school. She came to speak Hebrew flawlessly. Her Husband grew up in an all Arab environment, learning Hebrew only when he went to University. Rim claims it made him feel insecure. The Hand in Hand school was a place that would offer Luai and his brothers the opportunity to be “like” her and at the same time not. Luai would still maintain his identity but learn to speak Hebrew fluently. A mechanism necessary for survival in a place like Israel.  Reem did not want him to grow up, neither like her nor like her husband who was educated in a total Arab environment, she wanted him to feel accepted by all. Given the reality it was the least “worse” option.

Luai Musa Hatib

Hand in Hand, The Max Rayne School Jerusalem

The philosophy of Hand-in-Hand defies the typical Israeli school system where  Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel live separately from one another in virtually all aspects of daily life.  This separation is particularly obvious in K-12 public education system, where Jews and Arabs attend separate schools. Although children may legally attend either type of school, only a few Arab children attend Jewish schools (where the primary language of instruction is Hebrew), and essentially no Jewish children attend Arab schools (where the primary language of instruction is Arabic). The separation of the communities, and the barriers to communication carry through to every aspect of adult life.

In 1998, Hand in Hand began establishing a network of schools that integrates the student populations, integrated teaching and supervisory staffs. Using a core curriculum based on Ministry of Education-approved content, the school provides   bilingual educational and methodology. From the beginning, Hand in Hand has been committed to maintaining its schools as part of the Israeli public education system: operating under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. It receives a substantial core funding from the Ministry of Education budget.

Hand In Hand

Danae Elon

was born in 1970. She grew up between Italy and Israel as the only child of Beth and Amos Elon. When Amos Elon was writing his biography on Theodor Herzl he relocated the family to a small farmhouse in Italy where Danae was cared for by the local nuns. Later she attended the village school in Italy. In third grade she returned to Jerusalem where she continued her education in Hebrew. The transition was devastating; To her parents’ disbelief the prestigious Gymnasia secondary school in Jerusalem ultimately counseled them that their daughter had an unpromising capacity for intellectual learning and suggested she attend one of the many technical schools in the city.  She was saved by a new experimental school for the arts that had just opened in Jerusalem. Some of the leading unemployed filmmakers in Israel at the time were asked to teach. Upon graduating from high school Danae spent two years in compulsory military service as a non-commissioned officer to the United Nation forces in the area. At age 21 Danae left Israel to study at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she graduated with honors. She lived in New York for 15 years where she met her partner Philip Touitou.

Danae and Amos Elon