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Violating Sanctions

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Jewish Teacher Wants to Help Arab Students

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).

“I’m sure there are people in Israel who have never spoken to an Arab,” said 19-year-old Neriya Mark. “Just having this experience [of being educated in the Village] is very important.”
Neriya Mark
Although tentative about her English and Arabic, Neriya is a confident young Jewish woman intent on making a difference for her Arab students. In lieu of serving in the Israeli Army, she is volunteering in a private Jewish school in Jaffa whose student body is about one-fifth Arab.

“It’s really terrible to see how the Arab kids and the Jewish kids try to fit themselves into a Jewish school,” said Neriya. “I know it could be equal because I studied in Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam. [In Jaffa, classes are] all taught in Hebrew. The Arab kids could be 12 and not know how to write their own names in Arabic. They think it will help them fit better if they try to be Jewish or something and it’s terrible really.”

“I had to reject the Army,” Neriya describes her conscientious objection decision. “I had to write a letter and they wouldn’t let me get out of the Army because of political reasons. They just wrote that I don’t fit or something because it’s not good for their statistics to have so many people who resist.”
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