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A third way(?)

BS”D

I know that I’ve said earlier that I’m not going to focus much on politics, and I’m intending to keep those words, though only to a certain extent.

The thing is, I live in Israel, in what is popular known as a “settlement”. If you wonder why I’m putting settlement in quotation-marks, then it’s because that the “settlement” I’m living in is basically a city (Ma’aleh Adumim), with more than 35,000 citizens, among them some few Palestinians (yes, you read correctly).

Anyway, I don’t live here based on any kind of ideological motives, especially not that the Palestinians don’t have any rights to live here. I simply live here, because that’s where I’m ended up (more or less, my wife lived here when we got married, and our budget is not to finding an apartment big enough for four people and a dog in Jerusalem or anywhere near Jerusalem – not that I would’ve moved would we have the money, maybe, maybe not).

That said, what bothers me to a certain extent is how Jews and Palestinians in general are being portrayed in relation to each other. Either Jews as evil imperial or colonial settlers, harassing and beating up innocent Palestinians, or Palestinians as fanatic religious extremist with the sole purpose in life being to blow themselves up in the middle of Jewish civilians. Or simply that we hate each other and want each other dead.

There is some truth in the above description, but it is far from the general picture you’ll get when living here. Sure, there are people who want to do everything they can in order to make you believe that, but they are not telling the whole truth, namely that most people here just live, and live together. It has to be added though that it’s not always harmonious or that we hang out together, but it’s not the opposite either.

Anyway, in order to challenge the stereotype presentation of Israel/Palestine, I will once in a while write posts on incidents, groups, organisations, something else, which shows that Jews and Palestinians actually can and in some extent also do live and share lives together. Not only in Tel Aviv or Haifa, but also on the West Bank (or as it is known in Hebrew, Shomron and Yehudah). As far as possible these representations will be nonpolitical, in that sense that it will deal more with the general lives than political discussions. And, if possible, I will invite friends to write posts about their lives here, Jews as well as Palestinians.

The first two incidents I will present is dealing with the Gush Etzion bloc, which is just south-west of Jerusalem, next to Bethlehem. The first is a video presenting the initiative for dialog between Palestinians and settlers in the area (the settlers belonging to R. Froman’s, shelita, group, a group of religious settlers struggling for promoting mutual understanding, acceptance and coexistence.

The other a recent happening, in connection to Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish New Year for the trees, just being celebrated, where Jews and Palestinians planted trees together.

But before we get to it then a short word to all of you guys out there only focusing on the negative in the other, and being pessimistic. Yes, Jews can be evil, Palestinians as well, no group of humans has patent on that one. And maybe we don’t see Jews and Palestinians flocking on the street to jump into each other’s arms, wanting peace, but we won’t get peace, if we don’t believe in it.

Enough talk, here you are:

Settlers for Peace on Youtube

Jews, Palestinians Plant Trees Together in West Bank

Note: All opinions expressed in the material is not necessarily the same as my opinions. Nor am I attempting to promote any political opinion, or saying who is right or wrong.


2 Comments

  1. Michael Kay says:

    Hi, I really appreciate this, and would certainly encourage you to give us happier stories than we tend to read in the news about practical, constructive co-existence going on in your area. Do you personally get involved? I would also be interested to hear, especially given your area of study, whether you feel that interfaith dialogue or any kind of structured discussion or similar grass-roots activities have a large role to play in building a more cohesive community.

  2. qolyehudi says:

    Hi Michael

    Thanks for the positive response, I have been experiences some less positive responses now and then.

    I’m not so involved in anything organized yet, still trying to find my legs here, and being busy with the studies. I do involve myself in how I relate to people though, always attempting to treat each person as my equal, and trying to let people understand the other side. I have had arguments, which almost ended in fights, a couple of times, reacting to people acting in a impolite way to Arabs. I try to stay out of the fights though;o). On Facebook I’m more active though, it’s a good tool to establish connection and bring people together.

    Regarding the interfaith dialogue, yes, I believe that it is of great importance. Religion plays a huge role here, whether people like it or not, and I do think that establishing talks and mutual understanding based on our religions, would be more helpful than the political actions we are witnessing. Most Jews here in Israel do admit to some level of religious faith, as well as the Palestinians, and though we do have our religious extremists on both side, so do we have our religious “peaceniks”, finding strength and faith in our religions. Again, the media has a habit only to show the extremist examples, so we most often hear about Hamas, extremist Haredis in Beit Shemesh and Meah Shearim, and fanatic religious settlers burning mosques. Not often do we here about the other side the “religious leftist” (though they probably are not very leftist, besides believing in coexistence), as for example already mentioned R. Froman, but also R. Abrahamson, R. Eliyahu McLean, and others. And even among the group of settlers, who are called “extremist” have I met people who don’t have a problem with the Palestinians, even being there. But again, it’s not a huge majority, or even a majority, we are talking about, but it’s the first generation of religious personalities, who dare speak against the growing extremist tendencies, and promote peace and acceptance instead of hatred. And what is amazing is that they base it on religious principles, pointing to the words of our Sages, Z”L. This is – in my opinion – a much better approach than the leftist secular approach, who are denying some basic values here in the ME, namely the respect for tradition and religion.

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