Haifa, a Model of Arab-Jewish Coexistence, Now a Target

Lutfi Mash’ur, the late editor of Israel’s largest Arabic weekly newspaper, al-Sinara, used to say that in the face of Jewish-Arab enmity and violence, he would look to Haifa for hope. It’s hard to know what he would have said this week, as Hezbollah rockets reigned [sic] down on Israel’s third largest city, a place where Jews and Arabs live more harmoniously than almost anywhere else in Israel.

{josquote}At the foot of the Bahai gardens, which ripple from the top of Mount Carmel like cascading Hawaiian leis, Arabs and Jews socialize together, enjoying good food, good company and a gorgeous view.{/josquote}

Haifa has a history of partnership between the two communities, and a mayor who champions equality and works to transform multiculturalism into an asset. As a result, the city has become a model for how Jews and Arabs can come as close as possible to living in “mundane harmony,” to borrow a phrase from Mash’ur, who died last month and was mourned by both Arabs and Jews.

Unlike other mixed towns in Israel, Jews and Arabs in Haifa do live together in the same apartment buildings. They work together at the port, at the city’s Rambam hospital and at Haifa University. Some even socialize and celebrate their living together — a rare phenomenon in a country so bitterly divided along Arab-Jewish lines. This week they were huddling together in bomb shelters across town.

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