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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

“We Have to Open Our Minds!”

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | September 8th, 2007 | Comments No Comments

The following blog is one of a series of interviews with hopeful, intelligent young adults who grew up in Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam (nswas.org), an Israeli village of 25 Jewish and 25 Arab families who have lived biculturally — and peacefully, if not always harmoniously — for 30 years. The full interview and podcast may be heard at American Friends of Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam (oasisofpeace.org).

“The people who live here like their children to be very open-minded,” stated a forceful Adi Frish, 24, who still lives in Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam. “You grow up without prejudice. This is the best start for life.”
Adi Frish
After attending the Village’s Primary School and a local Jewish high school, Adi works in Jerusalem for the national Ministry of Education, the government body that recently stated Jews and Arabs should not be taught together. The Ministry terminated funding to Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam’s school, and now the Village is scrambling to raise money for a school bus to continue its remarkable bicultural, bilingual education.

“I think it’s a pity,” Adi said of her government’s lack of support for school integration. “I think that every person should have his own choice. [Integrated] education is most important when you are little, [when] you are [forming] your character, your values, your opinion about the world.

“I can’t agree that [students] should be separated, but I think it should be a choice, and I think there should be more schools with Arabs and Jews learning together. And there will be the other choice for people who don’t think like us. Everyone has to [have] his own choice. Everyone should have his own opinions. You can’t force someone to think what you think is right.”

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education announced that new text books will finally portray the Palestinian history, but only in books for Arab students. “I think it should be equal,” protested Adi. “Both sides have these books that show just one side of the coin. Every side can see just his side, but if you want to be fair and if you want to really learn about the other side, you can’t close your eyes, you should write two histories in the same book, side-by-side. This is how children get the true picture of the history of Israel.

“There is no reason that one people that should be occupied or one people should be stronger. We are all equal. We have to open our minds.

“Further than that, we have to help each other get independence, to be strong economically, to bring medical [assistance] and hospitals to the Occupied Territories…everything that a state should have for its people.”

Does this young woman working in a segregated educational system have hope for the future? “There is a lot of hope!” Adi said emphatically. “More than much! If there is a word that describes ‘more than much,’ that is what I think!”

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