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What leaders say about the Oasis of Peace

"Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is an inspiration.  It is a reminder that peace in the Middle East can be achieved by people of goodwill and vision.  The spirit of tolerance and habit of cooperation that it helps to foster are key ingredients to a lasting peace." – General Brent Scowcroft, Former National Security Advisor to President George H.W. Bush
 
“I am convinced that the way peace begins is with individuals, one at a time, who long to know the ‘other’. Neve Shalom/Wahat Salam provides living proof that individual by individual and family by family Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews can form a COMMUNITY. I am so proud to be part of this effort.” – Sara Ehrman, Senior Advisor, Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation
 
“I have watched Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam grow from a handful of huts in 1978 into an extraordinary village where Palestinian and Jewish families prove every day that living together in peace and equality is possible.” – Ambassador Samuel W. Lewis, Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel
 
“It has been a bad year given the terrible bloodletting in both the Israeli and Palestinian communities for those who want to believe that a negotiated peace will ever be possible in the Middle East. But a peaceful solution will never be achieved by violence or imposed by outsiders. I think that that message has begun to sink in. In the meantime Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam has persevered when so many others have faltered in maintaining its vision of peace and instilling it where it counts most, among the young.” – Ambassador Richard Murphy, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
 
“The work done at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam becomes more important and indispensable than ever before. The lessons of coexistence, compromise and tolerance taught at the real ‘Oasis of Peace’ are a ray of hope that these principles will guide the upcoming talks towards a genuine, just, lasting and secure peace for all.” – Khalil Jahshan, Lecturer, Pepperdine University
 
"There are many outstanding programs working for peace and co-existence in the Middle East, but Neve Shalom/ Wahat Al-Salam is truly unique. It is not a week's program, or a weekend's experiment. It is Arabs and Jews living their ordinary lives together, sharing the same school, the same town, the same problems. Their identities nonetheless cannot be escaped with conflict all around them. Their experience teaches us much about the challenges of co-existence in environments of conflict." – Shibley Telhami, Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland
 

"The Oasis of Peace takes the rhetoric of ‘people-to-people’ peacemaking and turns it into a daily reality. Good doesn't always conquer evil but, the Oasis of Peace shows that with goodwill and hard work it certainly can." – Robert Satloff, Executive Director, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
 
“More than ever before, the noble and imaginative efforts by Neve Shalom to bring together Israelis and Arabs in an atmosphere of cooperation and friendship deserve to be encouraged.” – Elie Wiesel, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Boston University

“Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is a constructive and effective endeavor for enabling not only children and high school students to examine their personal views and biases, but also enabling teachers, lawyers, women leaders, and journalists to understand their own views and roles in society.” – Shoshana Cardin, Past Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations

“One project now helping people long in conflict learn about each other and thus find themselves is the experimental village of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam. Step by step, this small village is spreading the idea that there is a better way to deal with the conflict. Such a noble effort has earned our deep admiration and support.” – Hani Masri, Chairman, Capital Investment Management Corporation

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Soundbites

What the press is saying about Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the “Oasis of Peace”:

The Concord Journal, 11/20/2008– “Its existence and continuing success through times of conflict, violence and despair is extremely important for our time, since it proclaims that, even in the Middle East, peace is possible.” 

Positive News, Winter 2008 – “Hope for peace in Israel/Palestine comes from the people, not the ‘leaders.’ “Our work is in the field – at the grassroots. It is there that hope arises,” said Ahmad [Hijazi]. “Both people want freedom and dignity and each must recognize that desire in the other. Both people are tired and want a solution. That is my hope and my belief.”

“For over two decades, the School for Peace has been a dynamic center of peace education and research. Over 35,000 youth and adults have participated in SFP workshops.” Briefly in Tompkins – November 7, 2008

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 9/5/ 2008 – The sounds from the playground are almost idyllic. Kicking a somewhat deflated soccer ball around, a group of pupils cheer in Arabic, comment in Hebrew and praise each other on goals using in the first of the two languages that pops into their minds during the heat of the game. A little bit further down, a mixed bunch of Palestinian and Jewish kids spend recess on the lawn, chatting and laughing together until it's time to hit the books again.

BabelMed, 6/29/2008 – “In the kindergarten (ages 2 to 4), two teachers are reading the same story to a dozen kids. Dana Ofer is reading the page in Hebrew, then Sawsan Garh the same page in Arabic. All the children are listening to them intently.” 

Church Times, 6/6/2008 – “These future citizens of Israel are nurtured in an environment far removed from that of their peers beyond the village boundaries. They have pride in their own identity alongside a tolerance of that of their neighbor. They are growing up in the knowledge that such co-existence is both achievable and necessary for the future stability of their country.” 

Without a road map – travels in Israel and Palestine [blog], 4/7/2007 – “We live in equality and respect. We didn’t come here to change Jews or for Jews to change Arabs, but to show we can live co-habit and empathize.” Quote from Rita Bolos

BBC Outlook Radio. Listen to this program's piece about Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam from October 31, 2002.

PeaceTalks Radio, with Walter Cronkite, 6/04 “Residents have built up trust among themselves, as seen in elections for mayor and village council. When people first arrive, they tend to vote exclusively for their own nationality. In the early years, the town elected Israeli Jews as mayors…as both sides gained more confidence and trust, they voted for the best person. And in recent years, they've elected Palestinian mayors.”

Cleveland Jewish News, 5/04 “After he toured Neve Shalom, Anton Shammas, a noted Palestinian journalist, wrote, "It is always risky to be lured by metaphors, especially in the Middle East, but those who live in this 'Oasis of Peace,' have managed to achieve the impossible: By refusing to be lured, they have concretized a metaphor. We, who are still wandering in the desert, envy them.’”

The Seattle Times, 5/04 “Community members — whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim — worship side by side at a spiritual sanctuary.”

St. Petersburg Times, 8/26/03 “…When differing groups face each other in every day living, they learn more about one another. It becomes easier to understand the reasons for what they do and where they are coming from. Then it is easier to find ways to compromise.”

Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, 4/4/03 “Coexistence is a powerful buzzword, particularly in Israel. Many Israelis talk about living in peace, with Jews and Palestinians side by side in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, whose name means Oasis of Peace, has been turning the talk into reality.”

O, The Oprah Magazine, 11/02 “It’s almost impossible to imagine Jews and Arabs living together in peace. And yet, it’s already happening in a place called Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam.”

Glamour Magazine, 8/02 “All over Israel, most Arabs and Jews prefer to live in separate cities and towns, maintain separate school systems and partake of separate cultures. But in this one village, families from both groups have chosen to live together.”

Newark Star-Ledger, 7/14/02 “No one is ready to give up and leave. Three hundred families remain on a waiting list to move into NSWAS. Jews and Arabs throughout the area still send their kids to the elementary school here.”

CNN Interview of Village Residents, 7/8/02 “We have so much in common. We have so much good going between us.” – Palestinian village resident, Pamela Nasser. “This is the way we are bringing them up, with connection to the Jewish culture, the Jewish holidays, and to the Muslim holidays too.” Pamela’s husband, Sadik Nasser.

National Journal, 5/25/02 “One of the reasons why NSWAS differs from other experimental forms of conflict resolution is that residents are actually encouraged to confront the issues that divide them.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4/28/02 “All those who live here came with the view that they can break down walls of mistrust and hostility by living side by side and building mutual respect. The place where those principles are most on display is the school where children are taught in Hebrew and Arabic and learn about the histories of both people.”

The Jerusalem Post, 4/5/02 “In the sea of hopelessness, there exists a small island of sanity; a tiny glimmer of hope.” “It is the children of Neve Shalom who make this place so inspirational. Jewish and Arab kids don’t make a big deal that they can speak each other’s language; they don’t regard the fact that they learn and play together as anything extraordinary. Anyone who knows anything about Israel knows that it is.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/22/02 “Amid olive branches and eucalyptus leaves, 40 Palestinian and Jewish families are conducting a hilltop experiment that sounds more radical today then it did when it began three decades ago: They are trying to live together.”

The Jewish Advocate, 1/18-24/02 “[The Oasis of Peace] illustrates what could be the end result of the Middle East peace process.”

The Jewish Bulletin of Northern California / Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 1/02 “They try as adults to practice what they preach to their children—that problems can be discussed rationally, and that Jews and Arabs can live together, even if some differences are painful.”

Voice of America, 8/5/01 “In a country where Arabs and Jews rarely interact as equals, this community stands out as a place where differences are acknowledged and respected, perhaps even celebrated.”

Jewish Herald-Voice, 12/00 “The residents of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (Oasis of Peace) not only believe in equality and pluralism. They live it.”

The Palm Beach Post, 12/12/00 “In Neve Shalom, the schools work for peace today by teaching the leaders of tomorrow.”

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