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Evening of Recognition for Fire Fighters and Rescue Workers

Wednesday 14 December 2016

On December 8, 2016, Wahat al Salam – Neve Shalom organized an evening of recognition for the firefighters, rescue teams and park police who worked with dedication to save the village and its residents during the recent fire. All of these people, at times with the help of young people from the community, worked around the clock in order to make it possible for all of us to be here today.

The evening was officiated by Noam Shuster (second generation), who warmly welcomed the acting head of the Mate Yehuda Regional Council and his assistant, firefighters, rescue team, park police, representatives from the kibbutzim, moshavim and representatives from Jewish and Arab towns in the area. She thanked them all for their dedication in fighting the fire and coming to our assistance in a time of need.

The acting head of the regional council Mr. Niv Wiesel welcomed all the guests and expressed appreciation to the management of the community and the residents for organizing the evening and praised the excellent cooperation between the representatives of the Regional Council who were here the evening of the fire and the community members, firefighters and park police. He commended the neighboring kibbutz and moshav members who, in the middle of the night, opened their homes to members of the community.

Pianists and Village members Yuval Admony and Tami Kanazawa played for us during brief musical interludes.

Adnan Manaa, head of the municipal committee of Wahat al Salam - Neve Shalom welcomed all the visitors and expressed deep thanks and appreciation to the firefighters, rescue workers and forest police who were here to help. The cooperation and coordination of all involved, and the courage of the young people of the community who were the first ones to begin fighting the fire, prevented a huge tragedy. The residents of the community had to evacuate their homes late at night and we appreciate those who worked quietly and with patience to help and guide us safely in the process.

Adnan stated that,"This evening, the warmth of the flames of last weeks fire are replaced by the human warmth, respect, appreciation and hope that is here this evening. This was the first fire of many that continued throughout the country for a week. However the worst flame was that of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his ministers who chose to spark the fires of incitement and fear. They chose to blame the Arab public for lighting the fires, which was later proven to be wrong. Their words were useless, irresponsible and untrue. Incitement is dangerous and needless in the wake of any fire.

The Jewish and Arab public showed greater maturity and responsibility in their behavior than the country’s leadership. Jews and Arabs in different places in the country fought together the threatening flames, which do not differentiate between Jews and Arabs. They opened their homes to one another; Jews hosted Arabs and Arabs hosted Jews, while the head of the government and his ministers chose to fan the flames and incite fear. We thank our Jewish neighbors of Tel Shachar, who opened their homes to us and provided us food and a warm place to spend the night. Our neighbors of Abu Ghosh generously opened their homes to the Jewish residents of Nataf, and other Arab towns and cities in the north welcomed those in need.

We at Wahat al Salam-Neve Shalom believed, and continue to believe, that only with meetings, discussions and cooperation between Jews and Arab can we advance in the direction of a shared society based on mutual respect and shared responsibility. Therefore there is hope. The fire in the community last week and those throughout the country proved that we can live and work together, giving all of us hope for peace and mutual respect. "

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