At UMass Dartmouth earlier today we hosted a panel of Israelis from the Afula-Gilboa region for a flowing discussion about religious diversity in Israel. Before the event we honored the memory of those murdered in Pittsburgh two and a half weeks ago.
Ravid, the panel moderator, is a young doctor who was once a SNEC Young Emissary to New England. Joining him were: Amani, an Israeli Arab (Muslim); Amir, a secular Israeli; and Ayala, an Orthodox Jew.
Each member of the panel spoke about his or her personal experiences growing up and living in Israel now. Later, they accepted questions from the audience. Israeli Jews and Arabs living in the Afula-Gilboa region share work in hospitals, social centers and business. They live very close to each other and get together all the time. "We need to get along," surmised Ayala.
Amani spoke about the unique status of Israeli Arabs in response to a question about military service. "We are in the middle. I am an Arab. I am an Israeli. I can't fight Palestinians. It's very complicated, this situation and feeling," she concluded.
The session ended with moderator Ravid speaking to hope and the future. "It takes time. There is no instant solution. Israel is young, a start-up nation. Things will change."