I love Ramle.
Ramle is this little city in the middle of Israel where Jews and Arabs mostly have their shit together.
Sure, there are sometimes tensions between the communities. But mostly, the bigger community sticks together, and people just go about their day — they go to the bank, they sit in traffic, they get sick and go to the doctor, they take their kids to soccer practice.
I was just there last week on a cool autumn morning in the middle of this hellish month we’re having, hours after another horrific terror attack.
I went to my favorite coffee place – on Herzl street, just past Kehilat Detroit — you can’t miss it. You gotta try it.
I sat between two old men smoking cigarttes, speaking in Hebrew an Arabic to each other.
Ibrahim is an Arab. Yossi is a Jew. They’ve been friends for over 50 years – they went to school together – and “nothing will stop us from meeting, not a war, not another war, not an intifada or another intifada, not rockets, not stabbings.”
They have coffee together every morning, Be’ezrat HaShem, Inshallah.
This isn’t some extraordinary thing – this is just Ramle.
Just walk through the shuk and you’ll see this everywhere, women in hijab bargaining with men in yarmulkes. Go buy a dress, and you’ll hear an Arab woman tell her Jewish friend, “wow, you have to buy that. It makes your boobs look really good.” Go get hummus at Samir’s and listen to the conversations about politics and life shared between Arab and Jewish men who call each other “brother.”
Again, this isn’t some extraordinary thing – this is just Ramle.
But this balance relies on us trusting each other and living together and making it work.
And i Just heard something that makes me really sad. I heard that Arab run stores and restaurants are suffering right now because Jewish people who live outside of Ramle and who used to come often to the shuk or for hummus or to buy kitchen appliances or dresses are now afraid to come.
We have to get over this.
Because even though the beautiful, human interactions in Ramle are NOT extraordinary, Ramle IS extraordinary for those very reasons.
But Ramle is also a glimpse into a reality we can create throughout Israel.
But if we stay away from Ramle, our distrust will only grow. Wariness will replace warmth. Hostility will take over honest friendships.
So please – come to Ramle. Come with me for hummus if you’re around. Ramle needs us to show up.
Our future in Israel depends on it, too.