Forward Thinking

Israeli Neighbors Fundraise for Fureidis After Attack

By Michael Kaplan

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A separate but similar price tag attack in Beit Hanina in June 2013. / Haaretz

Right-wing Jewish Israelis raided Fureidis, an Arab village located just tens of miles south of Haifa, a few days ago. Under cover of night, they slashed the tires of some 20 cars and spray painted the village’s mosque with a Star of David and graffiti reading “Close mosques, not yeshivot!”

It was the second price tag attack in the area in weeks, and a sign that settler violence is increasingly spreading from the West Bank to Israel proper these days. Like so many senseless acts of violence in the region, this one is cause for deep dismay and concern.

But it also carries with it reason to feel hopeful. There’s another side to the escalation of violence, as Jews and Arabs alike push back.

A group of residents from the nearby Israeli town of Zichron Yaakov has begun to raise money for needy Arab families in response to the attack on Fureidis.

Gillian Braunold, who moved to Zichron Yaakov two years ago from London, was shocked when she heard what had happened and, using online networks, suggested helping out needy families in the area.

“We’re all living together,” she told the Forward, adding that after hearing about the attack, she called a friend — her cleaning lady — who lives in the town of Fureidis, just to make sure she and her family were safe.

“It’s not a formal charity, it’s just an act of solidarity,” Braunold said.

She emphasized that the initiative sprung out of empathy, not politics.

This is only the latest indicator of one of the great paradoxes of the region: attempts at reconciliation are often met by violent acts, while violent acts are then met by stronger efforts toward peace and reconciliation.

As many organizations out there are pushing right-wing policies, there are also tons of organizations working toward co-existence and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians — and the latter sometimes spring up in reaction to the former.

Now that the peace talks have faded into non-existence, that impulse to lend a shoulder to neighbors in need in the aftermath of disaster, regardless of their religious or ethnic identity, might be the only real weapon those of us interested in coexistence have left.

Perhaps it’s time we started wielding it more often.

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