Tired of the never-ending war, some Israelis and Palestinians are taking matters in their own hands. They are proof that there is a different way forward.
The Oasis of Peace, or Neve Shalow in Hebrew and Wahat al-Salam in Arabic, is a unique place located on the beautiful hills between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. For the past 40 years, Israelis and Palestinians have been living here together.
“From here spreads the ‘dangerous idea’ that Arabs and Jews can live side by side in peace,” states journalist Stefan Löfgren in a documentary for Swedish Television called “En farlig idé” (A Dangerous Idea).
Open Day Festival in 1987.
Children from 20 villages in the area go to the oasis’ school, where classes are held in both Arabic and Hebrew.
“We receive many applications from people who want to move and come…(and)…live here with us. Many, I mean we have hundreds of applications,” says Rita Boulos, a Visits Program Director. “It’s a sign that many people want to feel hope.”
In the documentary, we also meet Ben Kfir, who lost his daughter in an attack targeting Israeli soldiers. “I was very angry,” he says. “I was very angry with politicians of both sides, that for so many decades couldn’t find a solution to the conflict here in the Middle East.”
At first he wanted revenge, and even planned to kill Palestinian construction workers nearby his home. Instead he met Jamil Kassas, a Palestinian refugee who had lost his grandfather, uncle and younger brother in the conflict. Jamil too first had his mind set on vengeance, but when his mother saved an Israeli settler who crashed with his car on Palestinian territory he realised that violence was not the answer.
Ben and Jamil met each other through Oasis of Peace. They share the same burden of loosing loved ones and are now visiting schools in the region to speak about the need for a different way forward.
Ben says his friendship with Palestinians actually saved his life. “The work I do with them today, gives me the reason to get up from my bed every morning.”