Nissim Dahan, Esq. (a.k.a. Nick)
I was born on September 10, 1952 in Tel-Aviv, Israel. My family in Israel goes back at least 200 years, way before the state was even founded. In fact, the parents of my grandmother were one of the first 66 families to found the city of Tel-Aviv. There is an iconic photo on the sand dunes that captures the moment in time.
When I was seven year old, by dad—ever in search of new opportunities—moved my mother, brother and me to America, the land of opportunity. Each of us pursued the American Dream in his own way. I studied at the University of Pennsylvania, became a lawyer at the University of Maryland, and worked with my dad for 30 years, in a family owned custom home building business. I became president of our company, and we developed land and built approximately 1200 custom homes in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
In 1975, I was fortunate to marry a wonderful woman, Mira, whom I met in Paris, France, and who was born in Cairo, Egypt. My wife worked in the family business for 18 years as our service manager, a job you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. We have been blessed with three terrific daughters and son-in-laws, and with eight wonderful grandchildren, whom we deeply love.
As a family, we’ve been blessed in many ways. With so much to be thankful for, comes an irresistible urge to give back, and to leave behind a better world. My wife and I would like to inspire some very special individuals to build a Green Industrial Zone in place like Gaza. We believe that a project of this sort could help chart a different course for the Middle East, and for the world as a whole, for that matter. At a time when people the world over are scratching their heads as to what can be done, we think that it is time to put in place a real project, a project that we can see and touch, a project that speaks louder than words, and that points to the possibility of peace. At a time when the whole world is looking for answers, what begins as a single solitary project, could well blossom into a movement for change.
Marie Dahan (a.k.a. Mira)
I was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1953. My father enjoyed a youth filled with pleasant memories, and eventually became a very successful business man. He came to own a sport goods factory and four retail shops. He even remembered meeting a young Yasser Arafat, who came to the store to buy soccer balls for an athletic program he was funning in Cairo. Our life in Egypt was very comfortable, and filled with joy, all of which came to an abrupt end in 1962, when my dad was falsely accused of being a spy for the State of Israel. We packed what we could, and moved to Paris, France, where we had some family, and where we enjoyed the right to citizenship. We lost our house, our money, and almost all our possessions. I was 9 years old at the time.
In Paris, my father worked hard to make a living. Among many odd jobs, he became a good salesman, and traveled in France from village to village, by train and automobile, selling eyeglass frames to opticians. My father was a good and honest man, beloved by all who came to know him. He always remembered the good times he had in Egypt, but never quite got over losing everything there. My mother was a fabulous cook. She kept a clean and modest home, and attended to our every need growing up.
I met my husband, Nissim, in 1971 when he visited Paris as a young student, with his family. At the time, I couldn’t speak English, and he couldn’t speak French. This made for quite an unusual relationship, to say the least. But something mysterious drew us close to one another. We wrote letters for four years, when there was such a thing, visited each other here and there, (accompanies by chaperons, of course), and got married in 1975. This coming year we will be celebrating 38 happy years together. The greatest part of our happiness is our children, sons-in-law, and our grandchildren. What a blessing.
I was trained as an accountant in Paris, and worked in that field for a number of years, but also worked in the family business building business for 18 years as a service manager; a job which requires many skills in diplomacy and mediation. Much of my time has been spent raising our daughters, and more recently, attending to our grandchildren.
I share my husband’s passion for wanting to make a difference in the Middle East. We’ve worked together as a team for many years, and luckily we don’t get on each other’s nerves too often. We both seem to be able to relate to people of diverse backgrounds, and to gain their trust. We understand the Middle East from the perspective of people who were born there, and who have connected emotionally to the people of the region. We have much to learn, but we bring to the table several qualities: the passion to get involved, the desire to make a difference, the innate capacity to mediate differences, the sensitivity not to offend, and the determination to build the peace. I suppose we are idealists at heart, but we would like to believe that we are able to ground our sense of idealism in a way that might just work. If given half a chance, we will do everything in our power to help those who choose to make this world a little bit better, and to leave it behind a little bit safer.