Joseph Aoun dreams big and he makes no apologies for it. He wants to achieve peace in the Middle East, specifically between Israelis and Palestinians. That is a big dream.
But Joseph’s passion and careful planning makes this dream different from others’ in the past. Joseph is the founder of Islands of Peace and the organization’s initiatives are working to bring hope and help to communities who so desperately need it.
Islands of Peace is a 501(c)(3) organization providing non-political collaborative opportunities to achieve peace and prosperity for all the people of the Middle East.
Joseph was born a Palestinian and grew up as a Christian in Bethlehem. His father’s family is from Jerusalem and his mother’s from Bethlehem. Growing up, he heard stories of how his family was able to regularly travel back and forth between the two towns with no conflict or recourse. He experienced the sadness and heartbreak of a family torn apart by politics.
His studies eventually took him to Greece to learn the Greek language at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. It was when he decided to continue his education that he first understood the real and very personal impact of racial bias. Joseph expressed a desire to study to be a pilot and was told “no” due solely to the fact that he was Palestinian.
Years later during the second Intifada, the economy had changed greatly. On the advice of a supervisor who saw great promise in him, Joseph begrudgingly moved to the United States for growth opportunities, and eventually became a citizen in 2010.
Joseph’s experiences led him to take a deeper dive into his heritage and into his roots. It was there he learned more about King David and his family’s past. Through the Torah, in its original Hebrew text, and regular studies with Rabbis, his eyes were opened to the Jewish faith.
Joseph quickly became successful in real estate through resolving zoning complications and reselling parcels to builders. His American dream was not without bumps, however, as the real estate bubble burst in 2008, and Hurricane Sandy’s devastation in 2012 created many challenges. Joseph again met the obstacle head on, working in a local service business to supplement his real estate trade.
Today he sets his sights on his biggest challenge yet. Joseph is embarking on a project that he believes will not only change lives, but will alter the world and how we approach conflict. Led by Joseph, Islands of Peace was developed and is working to utilize Atmospheric Water Generation (AWG) to transform the air into some of the purest and healthiest drinking water on the planet. The generators will be placed in the areas of most need across Israel and the Palestinian Authority including family homes, schools, hospitals, farms, houses of worship, and even orphanages that have a great need.
Additionally, there are plans for an atmospheric water factory, which would be the first in the world. This factory is to create many opportunities through water bottling. This project will provide water that is easy to transport, create ongoing jobs and be self-sustaining. One machine alone can produce 10,000 liters of water per day paired with a micro-bottling facility using bio-degradable plastic to create 20,000 bottles of water per day.
“In order to achieve peace among the people of the Middle East, you must first bring life, health, and opportunity to them. In delivering a new channel for healthy and pure drinking water to the people, we are able to meet needs, alleviate tensions, and provide tools for them to become successful in the region.”
Joseph’s deep conviction to love and bring together these two groups of people stems from the scriptures. “It is God’s commandment – to love your neighbor as yourself. To hold hate in your heart is a sin. It is important to always help your brothers and sisters because in the end, you will all gain peace.”
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. — LEVITICUS 19:18
Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. — PROVERBS 11:12
You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. — LEVITICUS 19:17
Throughout his journey in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Greece and now the United States, his passion for the Israeli and Palestinian people has continued to grow stronger and stronger. One day while reading his bible, Joseph came across Isaiah 42:12 which states:
“Let them give glory to the Lord and proclaim His praise in the islands.”
He continued reading and researching, only to find many references to islands that he was not familiar with. Joseph believes his next project, the Menorah Islands, will help to fulfill the prophecy from Isaiah.
The Menorah Islands Project is a concept for a group of nine artificial islands – seven permanent and two that emerge from the water – off the coast of Israel in the Mediterranean Sea. The concept calls for the islands to be laid out in the shape of a menorah candelabra. A beautiful place to live, work and vacation, the Menorah Islands would be a world center for education, a model for environmentally-friendly practices, a showcase for emerging technologies, and a safe haven for people of all religions and races.
This utopian dream of all cultures thriving as one is a dream Joseph does not take lightly. He is making it his life’s mission in spite of many detractors around the world. Seeing peace in Israel and the Palestinian Authority is much too great of a vision for the faint of heart.