We are being bombarded continuously with examples of conflicts between Jews and Palestinians. The latest example is the war in Gaza, which has been dominating the news coverage of the area. As a result, the world at large is under the impression that all Jews and Palestinians are at each others’ throats. They can never find common ground. They will never be able to co-exist. This is misleading, counter-productive, destructive, and just plain wrong.
It is understandable that wars, terror attacks, and saber-rattling sell newspapers and drive television ratings, but it is important to realize that there are far more examples of Israelis and Palestinians living together and interacting peacefully. As anyone who has lived in or visited Israel knows, many Jews and Palestinians work together and live together in harmony. Most of them want to raise their families and earn a living in peace. When I was in Israel some years ago I witnessed this firsthand, particularly in Haifa.
As an illustration of this point, below please find a copy of an email I received from an American who has been living in Israel and who has been experiencing this first-hand.
“It’s war here. Even though living in the North, it’s quiet (aside from the tears and mourning from friends and families of the fallen soldiers who are from up here), I can honestly say that I wouldn’t mind a break from it once in a while. And, I’m not alone. One of my friends decided to go on a 3-day detox. (Not from sugar or wheat, but rather social media, like Facebook and Twitter). Another friend decided not to participate in the community event in which we created care packages for the soldiers on the border with Gaza – in a way to “protect her children from too much”.
One way I’ve been taking a break from all of this is by continuing to attend my weekly singing group on the kibbutz. Another break I’ve been taking is by continuing to teach yoga each on the kibbutz. In other words, instead of crawling up into a ball and literally escaping, I’m
escaping by continuing to live.
And this past week, I did something a little different. I decided to attend a basketball game. Just to escape. Last year, I used to attend the weekly Jezreel Valley League basketball games, which my husband was a part of playing on the Hannaton team, until he started to suffer some back pain and decided to quit. But, this past Monday night, he got a phone call from one of the guys on our kibbutz, asking if he’d be willing to sub in because too many of the men on the team weren’t around. (They’re “too busy” defending our country.) And, my husband agreed. Yet, when I walked up to the court, 5 minutes into the beginning of the game, I thought someone was playing a trick on me. Why? Because all I heard was yelling in Arabic. On the court of Kibbutz Hannaton. It didn’t take me long to realize what was going on. The opposing team was coming from a neighboring community in our municipality. A Muslim one. But, the yelling wasn’t anything you may be hearing out of the words of Hamas terrorists or even any recent anti-Israel demonstrations, such as: “Kill the Jews!” or “Destroy Israel!” “Jews back to Birknau. Hitler was right!” Instead, the yelling was the typical yelling you hear on a basketball court. “Hey, ref! That was a foul! Are you blind?” “Double dribble!!!!” “Back court! Back court!” “Nu, ref? Can’t you count? How long you gonna let him stay in the key?” It was beautiful. The whole game.
Even though our team was at a disadvantage and didn’t play too well, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Just the thought of it. The image. Two communities. Two religions. Playing basketball in peace. Giving each other hi-5s and hitting each others’ butts at the end of the game.
Walking off the court together. Going home. Peacefully.
It was beautiful. Especially during these times when so much of the media is being showered with anti-Semitism. Calling Israel an apartheid state. Oh, how little do they know. That Israeli Arabs are full-fledged citizens here. That have freedom of religion. And freedom of speech.
And freedom to an education, just like the Jews.
Sure, there’s discrimination. Just like there is in the States. Israel is not perfect. Is there such a perfect place in the world? But, believe me, there’s more discrimination against many of the lower class Jewish citizens than there is against the Israeli Arabs.
Did you know:
1. That my dermatologist is Arab?
2. And so is the surgeon who stitched up my son’s tongue when he split it open
running down a hill two years ago;
3. And so is my dental hygienist.
4. And so are 98% of the contractors my husband works with.
5. And so are the majority of people living in the Galilee (where my family and I live);
6. And so is about 20% of the entire Israel population;
7. And so are about 15 people making up the Israeli Parliament;
8. And did you know that I am woken up each morning (at 4 AM, thank you very much)
to the Muslim “call to prayer” (and then 4 more times throughout the day) from
the surrounding Arab communities’ loudspeakers. *****
So, when I read the anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli propaganda (and anti-American propaganda) and sit with not knowing what to do with it (except continue to share articles on Facebook), I think I’m going to just sit with staying stuck on beautiful for a while.
Beautiful that Israel has reached a place where two basketball teams, Jewish and Muslim, can come together and play peacefully. Without wanting to kill one another. Without denying each other’s existence. Just living. And, letting live. Just Beautiful.”
I think this beautiful email says it all. It is straight from the heart, a first-hand account that belies all the bu*****t put out by the terrorists, hardliners, the press, and certain politicians. I am sure there are thousands of others who feel the same way and would have similar experiences to relate. I have nothing I can add, except too bad that the world press doesn’t publicize these types of stories instead of focusing solely on the negative and violent ones.
Moving story, Larry. Thank you. I think Rick has told you about our recent interest in http://israeltenniscenters.org/ We’ve met some of the organizers, as well as several of the youth tennis players, both Israeli and Arab. Not only are they terrific tennis players, they are articulate and engaging, all while being typical kids! Warning: you can’t help but open up your heart – not to mention wallet, once you’re exposed. Now, more than ever, we can do something by helping. They need us. Maybe your next blog can give us all more insights as to how we can help various Arab-Israeli peaceful coexistence initiatives.
Thank you for your comment. Had a very nice time Tuesday. Looking forward to the next time. LJ