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There are so many stories and organizations committed to sharing across lines of religious, ethnic, and national identity in Israel and Palestine at the present time.  While too many people focus on extreme positions pitched far to one side or the other, the reality is that there are hundreds of thousands, even millions, of Israelis, Arabs, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, Christians and others working together for the betterment of all.  Why can’t we focus more on this aspect of the reality that is Israel for Israelis and Palestine for Palestinians?

We should be aware of these in thinking about a collective model of cooperation and sharing.


Here is just a small sampling of these many efforts and realities bringing together Israelis and Palestinians, Arabs, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and others:


I.               Yad B’Yad School System- BiLingual School system in Israel that brings together Muslims, Jews, Arabs and Israelis and so many other to learn, play and live together.  A fast-growing system bringing together more and more students and their families.  Also has summer camp experiences.


II.             Givat Haviva – A wonderful learning community in which children and students of all ages share art, food, languages, dance, history and so many living experiences.


III.           Haifa, a Community of Co-Existence and Sports (for fun)


Note:  The Circassians (Circassian: Адыгэхэр, Adygekher) are a Northwest Caucasian ethnic group native to Circassia, many of whom were displaced in the course of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century, especially after the Russian–Circassian War in 1864.


IV.           The Galilee Circus – Youth from Palestinian and Israeli communities and families work together and build trust as they are paired to perform acrobatic and a variety of circus acts.



V.             A Muslim-Jewish Wedding – notice the different sides….  This is included here just to show that there are other issues, in this case, intermarriage amongst faiths that people have strong feelings about. In 2014, it was estimated that one in ten marriages involving a Jewish partner are intermarriages with those of other faith traditions.  While this is a separate issue with its own challenges, it should be noted as another way in which people are indeed crossing identity lines.


VI.           Just Jamming Through food, dance, art, relaxing and just jamming people from different religious and national/ethnic identities come together and have a blast.



VII.         Muslim – Jewish Dialogue in Israel


VIII.           Shorashim, an Orthodox Rabbi and a Muslim colleague bring together the members of their respective communities for shared experiences.


IX.            Project Wadi Attir, a joint effort between Bedouns, Israelis, and the Arab community


X.          Peace Drums Project, We are here to bring young people together through facilitated group learning and performance in steel bands and drum-lines to have positive experiences and build community, regardless of religious, cultural, and social differences.



XI.      Standing Together/Omdim BeYachadis a grassroots movement mobilizing Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel in pursuit of peace, equality, and social and climate justice. While the minority who benefit from the status quo of occupation and economic inequality seek to keep us divided, we know that we — the majority — have far more in common than that which sets us apart. When we stand together, we are strong enough to fundamentally alter the existing socio-political reality. The future that we want — peace and independence for Israelis and Palestinians, full equality for all citizens, and true social, economic, and environmental justice — is possible. Because where there is struggle, there is hope.


XII.        Beit Elfarasha in Akko – A culinary wonder and wonderful hospitality created by Muslim and Jewish women working and living together, sharing food customs, cultures, and stories.  The positive energy between women of different identified nationalities and religious groupings is absolutely as inspiring as the food they create together.


XIII.        Women Wage Peace - Women Wage Peace is the largest grassroots peace movement in Israel whose purpose is to promote a political agreement, involving women in the process. Today the movement has more than 44,000 members.


XIV.      Jerusalem Youth Choir - We are the Jerusalem Youth Chorus: Palestinians and Israelis raising our voices to push back against the violence surrounding us—to reject war, occupation, and terror, and instead sing out for peace, justice, inclusion, and equality. We don’t all share the same opinions—and have hard conversations about them every week—but we do share the same future, no matter what the politicians say. In JYC we have a rare chance to truly hear each other, and that’s what makes the chorus a home for all of us. Every kid deserves to grow up with that same safety and dignity. We know we don’t have the power to single-handedly stop war, but we also know that the reason war continues is because people think there is no alternative. We are the alternative. Listen and watch here:  


XV.    Rana Arab-Jewish Women’s Choir is the only Arab-Jewish women’s choir in Israel and as such serves as a unique example of the possibility and potential of creative collaboration and Shared Society. "We aim to provide a space for Jaffa’s Christian, Muslim, and Jewish women to meet, sing, and exchange cultural and interpersonal knowledge. Our performances feature original interpretations of folk and women's songs from various cultures in the Mediterranean, as well as songs written by the members of the choir based on their own life experiences." When these amazing women take to the stage to sing and share stories together in Hebrew and Arabic, they exhibit a hopeful alternative to the usual reality of division and mistrust.


XVI.  Centers for Cooperation across lines of faith and nationality in Israel and Palestine are numerous, here are just a few:


·      International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (Rabbi Ron Kronish, Reform)

·      Sholom Hartman Institute (Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, Orthodox)

·      Rabbis for Human Rights (Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Reform)

·      Israeli Religious Action Center (Anat Hoffman, Reform)

·      Alliance for Middle East Peace

·      Mosaica Center for Inter-Religious Cooperation

·      Center for Jewish - Christian Understanding and Cooperation (Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Orthodox)

·      Interfaith Encounter Association

·      The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

·      Middle East Institute (Environmental Cooperation)

·      Center for the Study of Relations between Jews, Christians, Muslims

·      Taghyeer – Center for Palestinian Non-Violence and Identity


For additional perspective, kindly access articles via the links below:
 with introductory words by Shimon Perez


Millions of people are crossing lines of religious belief, national loyalty and ethnic identity to work together for a world of peace in Israel and in Palestine. This should be duly noted and heavily publicized.  So, can we stop ignoring these important and wide-spread initiatives, that involve SO MANY individuals?


Note: Groups and initiatives are added to this listing as they increase in numbers and impact.


Dr. Saundra Sterling Epstein, she/her/hers

Director, BeYachad – Bringing Jewish Learning and Living Together

Director, Welcoming Shuls/Schools Project



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