Neve Shalom/ Wahat al-Salam (Israel)

Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salam is a cooperative village. The community consists of both Arabs and Jews, which is unique in Israel. It is situated equidistant from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In 1972 Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salam was founded on an area of 100 acres leased from the adjacent Latrun Monastery. In 1978 the first family came to settle. Ever since the community has been growing so that by 1990 there was a population of 60 residents. Currently the population has over a hundred adult residents alone.

The members have to cooperate in their daily lives and the close proximity in which they live encourages understanding between them. Both groups remain true to their cultural and religious identity, but respect those of the other community members. They enrich their own lives by recognizing the differences between themselves. This community is proof of the feasibility of coexistence between Arabs and Jews. The community has their own nursery, kindergarten, and primary school. In 2010 a library was built as well. Jewish and Arab members of the community run these schools themselves. The children are able to play and learn bilingually and are therefore growing up in a bi-cultural atmosphere. In January of 2011, one of the villages’ teens, Mai Shebta, was chosen as one of five young people to participate in the “Global Change-maker” program. This program is taking place at the World Economic Forum and will concentrate on coexistence in the increasingly globalized world.

A democratically elected committee runs all aspects of the community. Regular meetings for all members are also held to focus on specific issues. Neve Shalom/ Wahat Al-Salam operates independently and is not supported by any political party. Some members of the community go outside to earn their livings, others are employed in the school, the School for Peace, the secretarial offices, and other existing branches such as the youth hostel, the sheep farm, the olive groves and various maintenance and building services.