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August 3: Bruce Cohen’s Interns for Peace

August 3, 2013 M. Cohen, the American rabbi who co-founded Interns for Peace in Israel, died at 65 in White Plains, New York on this date in 2010. Cohen visited Israel after several Israeli Arabs were killed by the Israeli army during Land Day protests in 1976. Following a speech he gave in Jerusalem, he was approached by Farhat Agbaria, an Israeli Arab, and the two collaborated to establish their organization. Over the course of three decades, Interns for Peace trained and sent more than 300 interns to work on community development projects in dozens of Arab and Jewish villages while growing into a million-dollar budget. In its early years, most of the interns were American college students; today they are primarily Israeli Jews and Arabs. Veterans of the program include Gershon Baskin, founder and co-director of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, Sarah Kreimer, founder and director of the Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development, and Arik Ascherman, director of Rabbis for Human Rights. (Our graphic is from, the blog of illustrator Larry Roibal.) “True, we are only building personal relationships. Yet personal relationships have been the cutting edge of history in the Middle East. We, Jews and Arabs, are all of a Bedouin culture where hospitality and welcoming one into one’s tent meant the creation of a lifetime friendship and alliance in a hostile and forbidding desert.” —Bruce M. Cohen