As violence raged in some mixed Jewish-Arab cities, the leaders of neighboring communities in the Central Galilee came together to reaffirm their commitment to each other and to a peaceful coexistence.
This has been a tragic and terrifying time for the people of Israel.
It has also been an extraordinarily difficult time for Jewish people across the world, as well as for anyone who hopes for peace.
My perspective is somewhat unique. As an Israeli citizen currently living in Detroit, thousands of miles away from my home, my friends and loved ones, I have witnessed firsthand the profound concern and anxiety of this amazing Jewish community. I also know and understand the experience of Israelis, now living through this conflict.
Rockets from terrorists in Gaza inflicted great damage and trauma in Israel, and tragically, there were a number of casualties. I am deeply saddened by the loss of innocent lives.
Of greater concern to me, and many Israelis, is the violence in the streets — the civil unrest that is threatening the delicate Arab-Jewish relations within Israeli society. There is a growing sense of despair that irreparable damage already has been done in these violent intercommunity incidents over the past few days. This is a heartbreaking development. We must be unequivocally clear — there is no justification for racist violence perpetrated against any citizen of Israel.
For many years, Federation has funded projects that have made great strides in developing intercommunity trust, respect and collaboration in mixed cities such as Lod as well as in our Partnership Region in the Central Galilee, home to both Jewish and Arab communities. I pray that when calm returns, we can rebuild these essential ties between Jewish and Arab neighbors.
Peaceful Neighbors in Central Galilee
I am proud to highlight something that is not getting enough attention in the media: As violence raged in some mixed Jewish-Arab cities, the leaders of neighboring communities in the Central Galilee came together to reaffirm their commitment to each other and to a peaceful coexistence. Following the example of their leaders, Jews and Arabs gathered together in solidarity. The photos here illustrate some of this extraordinary support between communities.
I also want to share some of the initiatives the Israel and Overseas Department has organized to keep the Detroit community informed and connected to Israel during this time.
Our Shinshinim (young emissaries from Israel) have gathered over 200 letters from children in the community, sending their support to those involved in the conflict and wishing for their safety. I am facilitating conversations with different audiences — teens, college students and adults — addressing questions and concerns as well as to make space to share feelings. My objective is to give a platform for community members with any opinion about the current crisis to share their views.
We have also created a resource page with links to news stories and events, which we will update regularly. Visit at jewishdetroit.org/israelcrisis.
Finally, I would like to add a thought about how we express our support of Israel. Being united in support of Israel does not mean we have to hold a single opinion about events on the ground. Rather, we should be committed to having diverse opinions and open conversations about Israel.
Thank you for your commitment to Israel and its people.
Yiftah Leket is the Detroit Community Shaliach, an emissary from the Jewish Agency for Israel that lives in our community for 2-4 years and is responsible for engagement, education and relationship building around Israel and Zionism.