Jews and Arabs start to push back against violence, rallying nationwide

Shocked by series of arson and mob attacks in Jewish-Arab cities and beyond over recent days, Israelis demonstrate for calm

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

Demonstrating for calm and coexistence at the Oranim junction in south Jerusalem, May 13, 2021. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)
Demonstrating for calm and coexistence at the Oranim junction in south Jerusalem, May 13, 2021. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)

Shocked by the unprecedented scenes of violence between Jews and Arabs over recent days, Israelis took to the streets on Thursday to push back and call for calm and peaceful coexistence.

In Jerusalem, hundreds rallied with the Yad be Yad (Hand in Hand) organization at the Oranim junction in the south of the city and at the Mashbir department store in the downtown area.

Hand in Hand is a not-for-profit organization that runs several Jewish-Arab schools, including one in the capital.

Earlier in the day, some 300 school principals and educators rallied for coexistence and against violence in front of the Knesset at an event organized by the Branco Weiss School Principals Forum.

Some 300 Jerusalemites demonstrate against violence and for coexistence in central Jerusalem, May 13, 2021. (Whatsapp group)

300 אנשי ונשות חינוך נגד אלימות ובעד חיים משותפים.אנו גאים במנהלים ובמנהלות שלנו שארגנו היום עצרת למען חיים משותפים ונגד אלימות !מעט מן האור דוחה הרבה מהחושך.גאים בכם!!

Posted by ‎ברנקו וייס – Branco Weiss‎ on Thursday, May 13, 2021

Another rally of educators was scheduled for the mixed city of Lod, where some of the worst internecine violence has taken place over the past 48 hours.

Crowds also gathered at Habima Square in Tel Aviv and at the Hemed junction near Jerusalem. At the Nahalal junction in northern Israel, Jews and Arabs proclaimed that their shared and fragile fabric of life could not be harmed.

The Tag Meir organization, which campaigns against hate, handed out thousands of flowers at locations throughout the country, from the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba in central Israel and the Arab town of Abu Ghosh near Jerusalem, to the Fureidis junction and Gush Halav in northern Israel and the Nahalal junction in the Jezreel Valley.

The flowers were distributed with blessings for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which begins Sunday evening, and the Muslim Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, and was celebrated Wednesday and Thursday.

“We took to the streets to strengthen each other, to remember that we are brothers, and to ensure that we continue to live together — with respect and brotherhood,” the organization’s website said.

Other rallies took place in Haifa and in Modi’in, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Also on Thursday, city council members from Acre, Lod, Haifa, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Ramle and other mixed Jewish-Arab cities issued a joint call for calm as part of an effort by the Abraham Initiatives, which work for equality between the two peoples, according to Mekomit, a leftwing news site.

Leaders of both communities also came together in northern Israel and in the Negev to call for an end to the violence.

“The real fear is from the rift within the State of Israel,” said Ofir Libstein, head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council of communities close to the Gaza Strip. “We will face Hamas. But this is the biggest problem,” he said.

Hospitals in Israel are one of the main places where Jews and Arab work together and are treated alongside one another.

At Haifa’s Rambam Hospital, Jewish and Arab colleagues posed together with posters calling for peace.

יחד, כל הדרך – הצוותים המטפלים של רמב"ם שולחים מסר של שלום ודו-קיוםשלושה ימים סוערים וההסלמה במצב הביטחוני, הובילו את…

Posted by ‎רמב''ם הקריה הרפואית‎ on Wednesday, May 12, 2021

And at the Emek Medical Center in Afula, they sang “Peace will still come.”


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