With the Israeli ground operation in Gaza well under way, it may be hard to conceive of the possibility of peace in the region. The best chance for peace to emerge can happen when ordinary Israelis and Palestinians can freely communicate and interact with each other.
In a New York Times op-ed, Israeli Nimrod Nir recalls such a time, when such contact was regular, including when a Palestinian saved his life:
“There was a time when we co-existed and had a deep, direct dialogue. It’s nowhere to be found today, and both sides are trapped by their leaders’ agendas. As in most wars, each side dehumanizes the other. The more time passes without contact, the easier it is to forget that there are very similar human beings on the other side. And the easier it is to kill each other.”
Here are three organizations in Israel that are working to make such a day a reality again.
New Israel Fund works to promote human rights, social justice, and religious pluralism. During the current conflict, NIF has been supporting groups assisting civilians in southern Israel living under the constant threat of rocket fire. NIF also supports the work of Israeli human rights organizations who are monitoring the situation in Gaza and Israel and reporting to the Israeli authorities and public regarding possible violations of human rights.
Hand in Hand operates a network of integrated Jewish-Arab schools and communities in five locations. Its motto “learning together, living together” promotes its goal over the next decade to grow the network to 15 schools. Its day-to-day work and success of its programs proves that a society without hatred and violence is possible.
Neveh Shalom was established in 1969 as the first Jewish-Arab settlement in Israel. The settlement was the vision of Dominican monk Bruno Hussar. Today, Neveh Shalom has approximately 1,800 residents who work to promote peace and understanding through educational activities conducted in both Hebrew and Arabic.
Do you think peace is possible? Do you know of organizations promoting peace? Please share in the comments.
Artwork by Akiersch, via Wikimedia Commons