Coexistence in Israel: A Tale of Two Communities

The relationship between Arabs and Jews in Israel has been strained by failed peace agreements, suicide bombings, and the construction of a separation wall, which have fostered fear and anger on both sides.

Since Israel became a state in 1948, the road to peaceful coexistence has been, as most people in the region describe it, complicated. Somewhere in the midst of the conflict, however, are two communities -- one Arab and one Jewish -- that for years have shared a well, harvested crops together, and attended each others weddings and funerals.

Kibbutz Mezer, a collective Jewish community, and the Arab village Meiser, are located less than a half-mile from each other and from the "green line" border with the West Bank. Their relationship began in the early '50s when Kibbutz Mezer was established. Unable to find a viable water source of their own, the new kibbutz relied on the generosity of its Arab neighbors, who allowed them to share their own small well. In gratitude, Kibbutz Mezer shared with Meiser tips for navigating the new Israeli bureaucracy.

Both communities say that, in time, respect and even friendships grew. Not even the murder of a family at the kibbutz by a Palestinian extremist on November 10, 2002 could dismantle the peaceful relationship the two communities share.

This is the tale of Mezer and Meiser, communities that have lived side by side for over 55 years, offering a model of what peaceful coexistence in the region might look like.

Watch and listen to members of both communities describe how they got to know each other and how their relationship was tested.


This piece was originally published at onBeing, and was written, produced, and edited by Robyn Carolyn Price, Rosalina Nieves, and Bethany Firnhaber, in conjunction with USC Knight Media and Religion and USC Annenberg. Find out more information about the Mezer/Meiser Project.