More than 55 Jewish and Palestinian families are living, working and educating their children together in a small, peaceful village within the borders of Israel. Another 300 families are on a waiting list to reside at the "Oasis of Peace" -- Neve Shalom in Hebrew or Wahat al-Salam in Arabic.
What can this 30-year-old harmonious community share with the rest of its war torn country? How about with the rest of the world?
To start, it teaches trust, understanding and mutual respect far beyond its own borders by being a model for peace and by reaching out through its educational institutions. The Oasis of Peace is the only village of its kind with widespread recognition for its efforts of peace education and cooperation. It was nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Cazenovia resident Elaine Rubenstein met the founder of the village in 1984 during a visit to Israel with her family. The late Father Bruno Hussar was a Dominican priest that now has a pluralistic, spiritual center dedicated in his name. The center offers interfaith conferences, seminars and workshops.
"We observed the children in their bilingual, bicultural school, and the Arab and Jewish teens from all over Israel, including the West Bank," Rubenstein said, recalling her travels that included visiting a resident cousin and her husband. "We were so inspired by the dedication of the people we met that we have visited there several times since, and wish that all of our friends -- Christian, Muslim and Jew -- could observe such motivated people who feel they are doing something toward the cause of peace."
With guest facilities on site, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam has since become a tourist destination as well, Rubenstein said.
'Oasis of Peace' resident to speak at MPH
Ahmad Hijazi will share his story as a guest speaker at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 23 at the Coville Theatre located at Manlius Pebble Hill School.