Sunday, July 30, 2006

Oasis of Peace, a community bringing Jews and Arabs together, offers optimism and hope

peaceRegardless of one's political views or on which side one stands in the terrible conflicts that have riven the Middle East, many of us are horrified and saddened by the death and destruction that have engulfed that part of the world.

Some have turned to the Internet to chart the geographic scale of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict, or to convey the reality of death toll figures along the Israeli-Lebanese border and in Iraq.

These are tragic events that unfold before us. Just when it seems that achieving peace is impossible, particularly between groups with a lengthy history of mutual hostility, hope arrives in the form of one remarkable community that has succeeded in transcending conflict.

A unique village in Israel bears two names, in Hebrew Neve Shalom and in Arabic Wahat al-Salam. In English the name means "Oasis of Peace". Oasis of Peace is inhabited by Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, who together "work for peace, equality and understanding between the two peoples", according to its web site, exchanging culture, raising and educating their children, and co-governing.

More information about this remarkable community can be found on Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam's page of frequently asked questions.