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Violating Sanctions

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

String Theory

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | March 17th, 2007 | Comments 2 Comments »

In nature, there are four universally recognized physical forces of interaction: gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear interaction and weak nuclear interaction. So, which of these forces best describes Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam, the award-winning village of 25 Jewish and 25 Palestinian families who have forged a bicultural community in this violently divided nation?nswasnursery.jpg

Meaning “Oasis of Peace” in both Hebrew and Arabic, Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam ( is a somewhat isolated village high in the hills overlooking the Latrun Monastery between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This intimate community runs a bilingual, bicultural primary school for 180 children from the surrounding area, a School for Peace that hosts conflict-resolution seminars, a Spiritual Center and Israel’s only swimming pool where Jews and Palestinians can make more peaceful waves.

I’m living in their 39-room guesthouse for 5 days, interviewing their founders and leaders and trying to understand how, for the last 30 years, this village’s families have resolved their conflicts in a country defined by its conflicts.

“Just as in nature, it’s a combination of all of them,” says Cobi Sonnenschein, a physicist at Tel Aviv University, describing the physical forces metaphorically at play in the village.

“Sometimes, there are conflicts of personalities that cause quite strong interactions. In nature, strong interactions occur when two bodies (occupy) very small distances. In our community, we are very close to each other. Everyone has some people with whom they have strong and weak interactions.

“Electromagnetism describes attraction and repulsion. Sometimes you feel both. Of course, (living) with both Arabs and Jews, we deal with that here.”

Sonnenschein researches String Theory, an intriguing concept that defines objects, not by their solid mass, but by their vibrational relationships. Potentially turning physics as we know it inside out, String Theory considers an object’s impact to be more important than its definitive mass – i.e., what it does is more important than what it is.

Neve Shalom~Wahat al-Salam may be just another mass of individual Arabs and Jews, but it’s these people’s conscious and inventive interactions that may redefine “community.”

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2 Responses to “String Theory”

  1. onin Says:

    Thanks Kelly for engaging mosch of ideals, ideas, and real people. You bring it home!

  2. Wafa Says:

    Welcome back, I liked the brief report about Oasis of Hope. I think that these people courage is amazing, I’m curious to hear more about their stories and how they don’t allow the situation outside their village to affect their lives and commitment to live with each other in peace.

    I can’t wait to read the rest of your reports.


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