Although there were few political leaders taking the podium over the recent rise in Price Tag attacks, there have been quiet efforts of opposition and healing in their wake.
Over the weekend, police arrested an IDF soldier and two young women caught on video tape carrying out a price tag attack on a home in Luban al-sharqiya near Nablus 1:30am Tuesday night. a week ago (February 4). One of the suspected women, Orien Nizri, comes from Migron ( a settlement that Israel is planning to dismantle) and is doing her national service at museum in Jersulem.
Earlier last week, on T’uv B’shevat Palestinian and Jewish school children planted trees together in honor of T’uv Shevat. The Jewish children came from Efrat. The Palestinian children from the neighboring villiage of Jurat al-Shama. The trees will form a small grove that will eventually replace a wall that had been built to stop the spread of noxious dust from a near by factory in Jurat al-Shama. In addition to the tree planing Efrat is considering sending some of its security personnel to guard the plant at night.
Also on T’uv B’shevat, a group of Israelis organized by Rabbi for Human Rights went to Al Jenia to plant trees with the residents there. According to Rabbi Barry Leff, chairman of the board for Rabbi for Human Rights , the goal of the visit was “to present a different Jewish face than the one of the extremists who made a ‘price tag’ attack in the village last week.” Good intentions aside, the IDF was not terribly happy about a field of trees being planted on the outskirts of the village and tried to stop the tree planters. Arab villagers say that the land is theirs. The IDF soldiers claimed that the land was IDF territory.
The Abraham Fund, a non-profit that provides funding to a wide variety of co-existance projects, denounced the first price-tag attack against the Hand to Hand school and called on the Israeli Ministry of Education to step up the funding and creation of programs that foster respect and co-existance.
In addition to the immediate responses above, there are also several more long term efforts to create understanding between the peaceful portions of both Israeli and Palestinian society. The Hand to Hand school that was attacked for the second time in less that a week is one example.
For at least 15 years, across the street from the Israel Museum, the Bible Land Museum runs a program where both Jewish and Palestinian children explore their common heritage in the ancient world. The program involves not just the children, but also their parents and teachers. Each year 250 or more fourth and fifth graders participate in the program along with their parents and teachers. Overall, more than 15,000 people have been involved in the program over the years. The message of the program sticks. This year some of the staff applicants were children who had been in the program years before.
The Parent’s Circle Family Forum began in 1995 when several Israeli families who had lost loved ones sought to meet with Arab families who had also lost family members. It has grown into an association of more than 600 Arab nd Jewish families who have lost family members in terrorist attacks and other conflicts between Arabs and Jews. They meet to provide mutual support. They also use their experience working through grief and loss together to run “dialog meetings” that help Arab and Jewish students on university campuses see the humanity of each other and consider the possibility of dialog rather than violence as a way of addressing grievences between Arabs and Jews. Although they believe that interpersonal dialog is a pre-cursor to peace, they refrain from political statements and believe that the specifics of national peace must be worked out by the leaders of each national group.