“If I want to love my neighbor, I need to know my neighbor”

By Rachael Sauceda
(as part of our Stories of Inspiration series)

Yehuda Lapian is a 26 year old student attending Hadassah College in Jerusalem and is halfway through his B.A. degree in Political Science. Unlike most of his colleagues, Yehuda has participated in an ICCI program and has come to have a better understanding of “the other.”  Yehuda, who is Jewish, was born in America, but at the age of one moved to Israel and has lived in Jerusalem ever since. Growing up in a pluralistic household, his parents always taught him to “live and let live,” and that you have to remember there is pain on “the other side.”  It was with this pluralistic view of the conflict that gave Yehuda the courage and curiosity to learn more about his neighbors.

There were many moments in his childhood and adolescent years that could have drastically changed Yehuda’s outlook of his neighbor, especially growing up during a time when suicide bombings and terrorist attacks were frequent occurrences in Jerusalem. Often times, the conflict in the region taught him that Palestinians were the enemy, but his pluralistic views at home kept him grounded. However, as a teen he witnessed the aftermath of a suicide bombing in a local restaurant. Like most people after such a catastrophic event, Yehuda lacked the ability to find meaning in the situation and immediately grappled with the thought that whoever committed this act must really have hated the local community. This moment was both confusing and challenging.

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Jews and Muslims — Coexistence Is Possible, in America and in Israel

By Ron Kronish

as published in The Huffington Post on October 21, 2013

“For many years, I have been promoting the idea that Muslim-Jewish coexistence in Israel is possible. Indeed, I have argued that if we want to know our Muslim neighbors in Israel better, then we must not only engage them vis a vis their ethnic/national identity but that we must take their religious identity into account.

During my recent speaking tour to seven cities in the U.S., with the kadi (judge) of the Sharia Court of Jerusalem of the state of Israel , Kadi Iyad Zahalka, who is a Muslim citizen of Israel, I discovered over and over again that Muslims and Jews can and do coexist in America as well!

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Eid Mubarak!

My Story – In Between

by Elana Lubka

(as part of our Stories of Inspiration series)Abu_Ghosh-2

“Change is to talk,” Bushra, 22, stressed in our conversation. I smiled at this, for one of the first things I noticed about Bushra was how comfortable she was speaking both English and Hebrew. Bushra attributes her fluency in English and Hebrew to having been raised in Abu Ghosh, an Arab village in the Judean Hills outside of Jerusalem. Not a part of the West Bank, Abu Ghosh is known for its amiability with neighboring Jewish villages and often plays hosts to visiting Jewish groups who wish to sample some of their famous hummus. This constant exposure to Israeli and foreign Jews has enabled her to become more familiar with the “other” than other Palestinians living in East Jerusalem or the West Bank.
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