Friday, October 16, 2009 v3.1

Home Sweet Home (Part 1)
© 2009 David Talbot

Here’s something to think about: Jews hate Muslims and Muslims hate Jews, and therefore they live together in peace in the Bellevelle neighborhood, northwest of Paris, France.

Say whaaaat? They live in peace? Together? In Paris?

Actually, the Belleville section of Paris has been home to North African Muslims, Jews, and Berbers for around 50 years, more or less. In a recent article in JTA, Ilan Moss describes the neighbors of this community as, “…being fiercely proud of the climate of tolerance in their neighborhood¹” And, they complain that the press is only interested in the sensationalism of anti-Semitism.

How do they do it? Real simple, they all came from similar cultures in Tunisia, where they lived, worked, and raised families, in peace for centuries. But more than similar cultures, in North Africa and in France; these families were then, and are now, fully integrated in the community. They work together, play together, and break bread together: no separate schools, no separate governing bodies, and no separate social activities.

And in Israel, all citizens have equal rights, including the right to pray as they choose: Jews, Muslims, and Christians. But are all citizens fully integrated in mainstream Israeli society. Well, no. It is true there are isolated communities where Jews and Muslims live together in peace. But it is the exception, not the rule. Most communities in Israel are segregated with Arabs and Jews living close to each other, but not together.

However, there is hope things are changing. “In 1997, Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education is Israel was founded to build peace between Jews and Arabs in Israel through development of bilingual and multi-cultural schools2.” Since 1997 schools have been built in Jerusalem, Galilee, Wadi Ara, and Beersheva. For a complete report and update of how this organization is building communities check out their web site at:

There is a second part to this story. The West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Israeli’s have built settlements following the 1967 war, is the focal point of The Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and the Obama Administration. They want no Jewish settlements, indeed, they want no Jews at all in these territories.

Can somebody explain why 20% of Israel’s citizens (Arabs) can live in peace in Israel, and less than 10% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem citizens can’t do the same under Palestinian rule? See Part 2, next week.

¹ JTA, September 22, 2009

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