Last night, in an apparent protest against the decision to evacuate an Israeli "outpost" settlement, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam was attacked by thugs who crept into the village, slashed tires of many cars and spray-painted right-wing and anti-Arab slogans on cars and buildings, including the Primary School.
Graffitis read "Death to Arabs" or "Revenge;" a message on one of the 14 damaged cars said "Hi from Ulpana" (the outpost settlement that the government decided to evacuate).
This attack, in the current context, reminds us of how important the example set by Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is: Jews and Palestinians who choose to live, work and raise their children together in peace and mutual respect.
Residents of the Oasis of Peace are in shock but stay strong in their will to carry the village's message of peace. Many have expressed their feelings this morning:
Nava Sonnenschein, who has lived in the village since the very first years said: "This is a racist act directed against our community. They did it so that the children would see this when they come in the morning."
"The choice of Neve Shalom is not an accident. The community represents the alternative possibility, the possibility of life with equality and cooperation," said long-term resident Michal Zak.
Anwar Dawood, the school principal said "We feel very bad and this causes us pain. We see on the school door "Death to Arabs" and "Revenge", and this is against our values. We have never harmed anyone, be they Arab or Jew. This is the first time in the last decade that we have experienced this."
We, at the American Friends, feel even more encouraged in our efforts to support the educational programs of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. Now more than ever, we need to show that Jews and Palestinians can live together and cooperate for the common good and a durable peace in the region.
I invite you to learn more about this on the village website, and in the various news outlets that have reported on the attack: Los Angeles Times, Haaretz,Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post, Daily Star or the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
I hope you will join our efforts to support Palestinian-Jewish educational programs today both as a gesture of solidarity with the village and a message to the perpetrators of the attack that you stand for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Arabs and Jews.
Perrine Vaillant, Executive Director
American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam