Good neighbors

September 24, 2008 - 7:41 AM by

arab-jew-child.jpgLike many communities in Israel with a substantial English speaking population, my Jerusalem suburb of Ma’aleh Adumim has an active chat group on the Internet.

Usually, it’s pretty mundane stuff – looking for a good electrician, some old kids clothes to give away, advice needed on some immigrant issue. But occasionally, there’s a posting which sparks some excitement.

For a while now, an enterprising resident has been organizing interfaith meetings between Jews in Ma’aleh Adumim and Arabs from the neighboring town of Abu Dis in east Jerusalem.

Called the Interfaith Encounter Association group – ADAMA – the meetings of the two worlds have taken place six times. According to the organizer, Leah Lublin, “we do not talk politics, but get to know one another through our respective religions and customs.”

Sounds like a nice idea, especially considering most Ma’aleh Adumim residents only have dealings with Abu Dis residents when they decide to remodel their kitchens and need inexpensive contractors and day laborers. I haven’t attended a meeting yet, so I don’t know if the Jewish participants are primarily English-speakers like Lublin, or native Israelis, and if the Arab participants are professor types or mechanics.

Anyway, Lublin recently posted on the MA chat a notice about the next meeting, to take place at her home this week, focusing on fasting in Judaism and Islam and featuring a special vegetarian and kosher meal celebrating both the High Holidays and Ramadan.

In response, another Ma’aleh Adumim resident quickly posted a response claiming that meeting with Arabs in Ma’ale Adumim will only encourage them to move in to the neighborhood, and “will change Ma’ale Adumim from being a
safe neighborhood” to one wrought with potential terror.

She cited the Jerusalem neighborhoods of French Hill and Pisgat Ze’ev, which both have tiny Arab populations as examples of places that have seen “terror with Arab gangs fighting Jews in the streets, terror in car thefts etc. Do we need to encourage this on the MA Chatline?”

I’m not going to respond to her assertions, but I am certainly going to try to make it home tonight in time to attend my first Interfaith encounter.


4 Comments on Good neighbors

  1. Nicky on Wed, Sep 24th 2008 5:44 PM
  2. Let us know how it goes David – sounds really interesting.

  3. David-Joe on Thu, Sep 25th 2008 4:08 AM
  4. This is once again fuzzy liberal thinking. The interfaith actions have no effect. Until the Arabs accept that Israel exists by right and not privilege or on sufferance or as an interloper, there can and will never be peace.

    And the only way we will know that is when the Arabs accept human rights and the concrete of this is a shift to liberty in concrete terms, this means politically.

    Not a single Arab country exists with human rights at its core and only Israel in the entire mid-east is such a nation.

    Unfortunately Israel also believes that giving in and appeasing will achieve peace. It will not and never will.

    And the thought that Tzipi Livini may become PM is only slightly better than that utter horror and betrayer of Israel, Olmert.

  5. leah on Wed, Oct 1st 2008 10:42 AM
  6. Missed you at the meeting – it was very nice. Except that there was a bit of a fashla – I need to have meat/chicken at the Iftar. I had a couple of disappointed Palestinians who would have loved to have broken their fast in the more traditional way, by eating a meat meal. Next year.

    David-Joe – this is why we have those interfaith meetings. The meetings do have an effect on people. One by one. Everyone tells me it’s like that book “The Tipping Point.” Most people are just waiting around to see what will happen with this.

    Many Arabs will not understand Israel’s right to exist until they understand just a bit more about Judaism and our 2,000 year-old-desire to return to Jerusalem, etc. what is written in our prayerbooks, etc., and that Zionism did not begin in 1948, rather it is a 2,000 year-old dream of ours. Who will teach them anything about us? Al Jazeera?

    But our meetings also are about respecting the “other” and knowing about their religion. Most Israelis do not know (or care) when Moslem holidays are, or what their holidays are about. In my experience, I see that Arabs feel more respected when they see that Jews are interested in learning about them – their traditions, their religion.

    These are some of the many reasons I have interfaith meetings….

    But I did write about another “threat” to our community on my blog:

  7. son of hebron on Tue, Aug 17th 2010 10:29 AM
  8. i would love to see this on reality so peace can be spread and cover all the us .
    thanks alot dude davi

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