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Dr. Roberta Bell-Kligler, Director Emerita Oranim International, Oranim College, Tivon Israel

In Israel now, we are going through incredibly difficult times on so many levels. Israel was fragmented by internal divisions for quite a while and many of us were involved in critque of the government and demonstrations. And then we were subjected to a surprise attack from outside in a way that we could not have imagined even in our worst nightmare. Many of our internal divisions fell to the wayside.

We know that Hamas is evil, and we have seen clear evidence of their barbaric ways. We know they would kill each and every one of us in Israel if they only had the chance, just as they tried to do on Shabbat-Simhat Torah, October 7, 2023. This shocking realization about people and groups who have abandoned all semblance of humanity caused shock, disgust and fear among the population in Israel. Most of us feel that we are in a war for survival, and that military action is the only way to eradicate the evil.

War, however, is a terrible thing, and it always carries a very high price. Every day we hear about more deaths and see pictures that break our hearts. It is almost impossible to get out of our minds images of Hamas in the south of Israel on “Black Shabbat” committing rapes, beheadings, murders, and torturing people at a music festival and families at home in their communities. The large IDF operation to wipe out the Hamas leadership, soldiers, and tunnels has led to the loss of Israeli soldiers. As we mourn and cry for all those individuals, we witness the suffering of those in the Gaza Strip and see pictures of bodies of Palestinian children, teens, parents and grandparents. It is almost too much to absorb. In the meantime, we will have no idea of the plight of the Israeli and foreign hostages being held in Gaza. We don’t know if and when they will return safely home.

There is no one in Israel – Jew and Arab alike – who has not been personally impacted by the horrific events of the recent month. Some of us lost family members or friends, some of us have children or friends serving in the IDF, some of us have taken families evacuated from their homes into ours, and many of us are doing countless hours of volunteer work. All of us are suffering. While it is painful to see some of the responses from around the world, we feel that there are good people everywhere who, like us here in Israel, yearn for a resolution to the violence and hatred. We are heartened by the messages of understanding, sympathy and support that we have received. That love and empathy strengthens our resolve and gives us reason to be hopeful. We continue to believe that with faith, wisdom and hard work better times will come.

Galilee Dreamers was founded to promote connections between Arabs and Jews in Israel and thus to improve life for all and to make Israel a better society. The vision remains strong, but against the current background it is not clear what we should be doing. Or how? Or when? Fear is rampant, tensions are running high, and respectful dialogue is far from easy. We have decided to take some time to think, talk, listen and decide what our next steps should be. Those components are always part and parcel of our work with the schools, teachers and students in the Galilee. Just as we try to stay calm, focused and optimistic we wanted to share with you some of the thoughts and voices being shared in our community of Galilee Dreamers.

Please read, comment and continue to dream with us about better days.

Dr. Roberta Bell-Kligler, Director Emerita Oranim International, Oranim College, Tivon Israel
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