Response to growing tensions in Israel
Since December 6, many supporters reached out to ask how we are doing with the latest political developments and growing tensions in Israel. We were touched by that and wanted to give you a glimpse of what this time has been like in Jerusalem and in Wadi Ara.
In the aftermath of President Trump’s announcement on December 6, there were very mixed reactions, including frustration, anger, and confusion. Teachers, students, and families in school spoke to each other about how they felt.
Haneen, a parent and teacher in Jerusalem, said:
“When I heard the announcement about Jerusalem, it felt one-sided, like my identity and rights as an Arab were being ignored and wiped away. But when I came to school, I didn’t have to be afraid to share how I felt, we listened to each other. And we brought this trust to our students. We at school represent the desire and the option to choose cooperation in Jerusalem – right now and for the future.”
Aharon, a parent and teacher, added:
“Jerusalem is my home, I’m investing my life and my work here – bringing up my children here. The Jewish people and the Israeli state have a strong connection to Jerusalem. But Palestinians also have a strong connection. We live in conflict here, and whatever solution is going to work – it has to be with both sides sitting down to talk and acknowledging each other’s rights and needs. That’s what we do at school – and our daily work of building a shared life will continue.”
The feelings of anger and frustration of Arab citizens were manifested in rallies and demonstrations. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman reacted to this by calling for Jews to boycott Arab stores in Wadi Ara. He said:
Hand in Hand communities responded. On December 12, we joined with Neighbors of Peace to stand for shared living – hundreds gathered to say that they want to live together. Jewish Israelis in Wadi Ara said: “we will buy from our Arab neighbors; this is what neighbors do.” The weekend of December 15, the Hand in Hand Wadi Ara community partnered with Marvad Yarok to encourage tourism in Wadi Ara, and are volunteering to meet tourists and take them around to different sites, restaurants, and art galleries as part of a call to break the boycott.
When they call for separation – we work in collaboration. We are building, not destroying, we are including, not excluding. This is the only way forward and we continue to walk that path even in the face of obstacles.