Rainbow Coalition

“There’s nothing sweeter,” says Abdessalam Najjar of these schoolboys on a giggle break in their local playground, “than a rainbow shared by Jewish and Palestinian kids.” Najjar is mayor of an experiment: a village of 50 Jewish and Palestinian families. Called Neve Shalom/Wahat-al-Salam (Oasis of Peace), the cooperatively owned and governed village located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Jaffa has, since 1972, served as an example of peace between the two peoples, who have warred since Israel was created in 1948. Second graders Mohammad Hijazi (left), Saed Abdel Rahman (middle) and Mohammad Jabber (right) attend the Hebrew-Arabic primary school with 300 children from nearby communities. Says 8-year-old Hijazi, a Palestinian, “People shouldn’t live apart. I think we could cut up the flags and join them together.” Najjar, 50, also Palestinian, says, “The children understand that we should share [the flag] together, without one dominating the other.” Nava Sonnenschein, 49, a Jewish director of the village’s School for Peace, which conducts seminars in conflict resolution, is cautiously hopeful about the current “road map for peace”: “But it’s not enough just talking. We need to see action.” Eight-year-old Boniel Ofri, who is Jewish, offers some advice for Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister Mahmoud Abbas: “Stop the bombings and make friends.”

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