Photo Credit: Nati Shohat / Flash 90
Jewish and Muslim bless a crowd of hundreds at a special prayer rally at Gush Etzion junction.

Some 200 Arabs and Jews demonstrated together Sunday night at the Gush Etzion junction on Highway 60 in Judea.

The intersection is an important one for more than one reason: in addition to its position as the turnoff leading to most of the area’s Jewish communities in the region, it also leads to the Rami Levy Supermarket just a few hundred meters away.

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If ever there was a perfect example of what an apartheid state is NOT, the Rami Levy store in Gush Etzion most certainly would be it.

Observant women from the Jewish and Muslim Arab communities both work and shop in the store, as do observant men from both worlds. There is a walkway around the building where Muslims often step outside to pray to Allah and there is a synagogue within the store where Jewish men gather for the required quorum of 10 (a minyan) three times a day when needed.

The synagogue also conveniently doubles as a bomb shelter when less friendly or socially advanced Arab neighbors from south of the border (read: Gaza or Sinai) send rockets flying in the direction of the store.

Most of the people who shop at Rami Levy – and those who live in the area – have managed to get along quite well. They have no interest in murdering each other, nor do they support the calls to “Days of Rage” or “Price Tag” attacks they hear from others.

In response to last week’s horrific firebombing attack on a small family in the Arab village of Duma near Shechem, Jewish and Arab organizers decided it was time to speak out.

Late Sunday afternoon, some 200 people answered the call to rally at the Gush Etzion junction to show their solidarity with the wounded family and others who have been the victims of terror over the past several weeks.

Among the speakers were Rav Yaakov Medan of Yeshiva Har Etzion, Rav Yoel Bin Nun, Rav Yaakov Nagen of Otniel, and Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Hawa.

Opposition faction member MK Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid party also participated in the rally, according to one of the organizers.

Tensions in the region are high and those who speak out to condemn others in their communities – especially those in the Arab community – face a very high risk, regardless of whether they are condemning crimes or not.

It takes extraordinary courage for a Muslim leader, someone like Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Hawa, to step into the media spotlight and risk a sniper’s bullet to speak in favor of co-existence with Jews in Judea and Samaria. To speak of peace. To bless a crowd.

Many rabbis and many Jews speak of peace and speak against hate. Few Arabs have the courage to do so, in part because the price exacted from them by their own people is so much higher and more deadly.

This writer salutes an Arab leader who has gripped the courage of his convictions and stepped up to the podium to lead his people not only with words, but actions as well.

Perhaps it will be through this demonstration of true faith in the protection of Allah that Islam may someday symbolize peace between peoples for us, too.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

13 COMMENTS

  1. You can bet the Jews initiated this, as usual. I can't help looking at the Rav in the picture, and thinking , these do-gooders always have a permanent smile etched on their faces, like they are high on love, and so far entrenched from reality….they look stoned."Oh, are we on earth?"

  2. This is a demonstration of peace.But even tough it is beautiful and all it is dangerous.Faith in solution is not in the definition of origin.Jews and Arabs.You define urself as 2 different species when you are indeed one.None of you is special you are a plain human being.Some of you might claim the prophets come from your tree and you want a special treatments.But the fact is you are not but human beings.Your land is rocks, metals, dust, trees ….like any other land.So that said we put your religion aside and dealt with the facts.You have been for this land that is worth nothing, it has no beautiful rivers, no amazones…nothing, nothing different than any other land, and some places on earth Hawaii as example is more beautiful than Juresalem … So why are you killing each other for what? Are you just blood thirsty? It is a disgrace to us all to watch you in the news ripping each other apart an amusement to the rest of the world, all they need now is take bets who will kill who first….I am very disappointed.

  3. Hajj Ibrahim is my good friend. He's been to my Shabbat table many times, and I've lived at his home on the Mount of Olives and often visit him. Alas Hajj Ibrahim speaks courageously but he is not a political leader in any sense. If only more Palestinians thought like him.

  4. And, so what if the Jews initiated it. It was received positively by that Muslim leader. We have to start somewhere. We will have to continue living with those who want to live in peace with us. I will also make a bit – that a large number of the Arabs there would prefer to live under the rule of Israel because of all the corruption within the PA.

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