More than 30 years ago, an Egyptian-born Dominican monk, Bruno Hussar, wanted to create a place where people could learn how to live together – so he founded a new village between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel.
This new community was named Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam – Oasis of Peace, and here people of all religions were welcome to come and live and work together. Thirty years later, this is a thriving village with a waiting list of applicants wishing to join the community.
Abdessalam Najjar, an Arab Muslim from the Galilee region of Israel, was one of the first people to move into Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. Najjar says of Bruno Hussar’s intentions.
“His interest was to deal with the conflict. Why do we have a conflict? How can we influence the dynamics of the conflict and how can we change it for dynamics for peace building?”
Rabbi Ron Kronish of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, works alongside people of all religious backgrounds in trying to establish peace and unity. Together they work at building relationships between people because this is what they believe will lay the groundwork for real and sustainable peace. Rabbi Kronish says,
“We don’t invite people to our dialogues to solve the problem. We invite them to get to know one another, to be in place, to do what you can, to mitigate violence and hatred.”
The people of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam know how hard it is to achieve this deceptively simple goal but many of them believe they can succeed if they approach the work in a specific way. As Abdessalam Najjar explains,
“I believe, and there are some others believe, that peace education and the peace actions in the absence of the spiritual factor will be not complete, and if we will use the spiritual factor, we will be more able, more courage to do a peaceful action.”
This video – Interfaith Village in Israel – gives a very interesting account of life in Neve Shalom/Wahat al Salam.
*Photograph – Waverly Place by James Jowers – 1968. George Eastman House Collection –
Accession Number: 2007:0275:0038
- How to use Facebook to build friendships between French Muslims and Jews (jta.org)
- The higher path of peace (dimpledbrain.com)
- LEARNING SHALOM – a vision of education (learningshalom.wordpress.com)