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From Israel: A Story of Good Neighbors

Glenn Tamir

I thought I would share an experience I had yesterday that I think you will find interesting.

I live in a region of the Galilee called the Misgav Region. It is a collection of 27 Jewish villages and a number of Arab villages. The Arab villages vary from entirely Muslim to Druze to mostly Christian to some combination of some or all of these to Bedouin. There is a city nearby called Karmiel which is over 90% Jewish that has a population of about 60,000. It is surrounded by the villages that make up the Misgav but is run as a separate municipality. If you take the populations of the Misgav and Karmiel, you get approximately 53% Arab and 47% Jewish.

The Bedouins who live in the Misgav live very well. Their houses are quite large and they receive a good deal of support from the Government for education and infrastructure. The main reason for this is their support of the State of Israel. While not compulsory, many of the young men join the army and the numbers are growing annually. They serve in many areas but they excell as trackers due to their familiarity with the land and nature.

Yesterday, I was privilaged to attend a ceremony that marked nine years since three dead Israeli soldiers were returned after they fell in battle with Hezbollah near Mt. Hermon which is on the border with Lebanon, Syria and Israel. Two of the soldiers were Jewish and one was from the local village of Salame which is about 15 minutes from my house. There were about 200 people who attended including local Bedouin tribal chiefs or "Mukhtars", Druze and other Arab village leaders, local and national politicians including the Minister of Education, several top Army generals and several soldiers from the unit in which the fallen soldiers served.

There was a ceremony with speeches extolling the sacrifices these soldiers and their families made which began with the Shiekh of Salame chanting a Muslim prayer. There were Israeli flags flying all over the place which in Salame and several other Arab villages - usually the Bedouin, Druze and Christian ones is not uncommon.

It was quite powerful for me to be sitting accross from this Bedouin father who lost his son who was protecting what all of us there clearly knew were the values of a democratic and peaceful State of Israel. You can see on one of the photos that he is wearing a pin with the Israeli flag on his lapel. I actualy had the privilage of inviting him to my house last year to play music and we hadn't seen each other since then.

This is life in the Galilee. Arabs and Jews live, work and often play together. They go to separate schools as for the most part, they also live separately but there is a very strong sense of being in this together - at least with the Bedouin, Druze, Christian and many of the Muslim Arabs. I suggest that you visit here sometime to experience this. It's not what you typically see on the news, that's for sure and I will take you to eat in some of the best restaurants tou have ever been to with some great hospitality you can't find in the US.

Have a happy holiday and be well.

Glenn Tamir is married to Sue Mizrahi’s daughter Debby. (Sue is YJ Impact/Shlichim Chair.) Glenn, Debby and their children—Orly, Avi and Liat, all proud Young Judaeans—made aliyah in the summer of 2006.

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