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Violating Sanctions

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

“I Learned How Important My Role as an Ambassador Is”

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).

“Growing up [in Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam], I feel like there is so much to do and I feel that my voice has to be heard. People have to see that there is an alternative,” said Noam Shuster, an earnest, intense woman who hopes to run for political office someday. “We need more of a feminine voice in politics.”

“But the thing is,” continued Noam, “in Israel all the people who get to high positions in politics are people who got to high positions in the Army. This is one thing we need to change. We need people who [studied] philosophy, more human things, less generals and less ex-Army.”
Noam Shuster
“Israel is a Jewish country, and I think that [making] rules for only Jewish people and increasing the racism is not helping anyone. As a Jew, I would be more proud if [Israel] had more justice, were more liberal and was a country for all its citizens. I think a lot of people want that. I think most people want peace.”

Noam is a conscientious objector, refusing the mandatory military service required of all Jewish 18-year-olds. Was she worried her lack of military duty would mar her future?

“People tried to scare me, this is part of the whole system,” the passionate 20-year-old said. “People said if you don’t do the Army, then this and this and this. My opinions are so strong and I know exactly what I want and I know what I am doing is right. I am very complete with my decision. People who are trying to put me down will [try to scare me], but they’re only giving me strength and confidence.”

Instead, Noam will be studying acting this year at the New York Film Academy – auspicious training for a budding politician!

When Noam attended an all-Jewish high school, her classmates were shocked when she automatically dated her assignments in both Hebrew and Arabic – a habit she learned from Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam’s bilingual primary school.

“I would get questions like ‘What! You’re living with Arabs? Aren’t you afraid they’ll throw stones at you?’ And I was like ‘WHAT! You’re talking about my best friends!’ Then I realized that [my classmates] didn’t meet people from other side. At the beginning, I thought they were just stupid – like why would [Arabs] throw stones at me? We go to the pool together! [After] growing up, I understand how much the media has to blame for it. [They] only show the other side as extremists who throw stones.

“I learned how important my role as an ambassador of this place is. I take the education that I was given here and expose it to as many people I can.”

Noam will be calling American Friends of Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam from her dorm room in New York to thank them for their support and to encourage them to support the Village’s campaign to buy a school bus so local children can commute to the Village’s bicultural primary school.

“This is so important, how we are expanding,” she said, brightening at the prospect of talking with American supporters. “In our school, no matter who you are, no matter your identity, you will be recognized. I feel more secure because I wasn’t afraid to be open to other cultures. We don’t forget who we are, but we recognize there is more of the world.”
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