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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

When a Jewish Kibbutz Neighbors an Arab Village: 50 Years of Cooperation in Israel

by Bethany Firnhaber, Rosalina Nieves, and Robyn Carolyn Price

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

Since Israel became a state in 1948, the road to peaceful coexistence has been, as many 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.

Map of Meiser and MezerKibbutz 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. And 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.

The video above is a 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.


Bethany Firnhaber Bethany Firnhaber is a Los Angeles-based freelance reporter and photographer who recently received a master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California. She is most interested in reporting on issues of social responsibility and human rights, especially across cultural and international borders.  
 

Rosalina Nieves Rosalina Nieves is a master’s degree candidate in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Southern California. After graduating from Purdue University, she began her career at WFLD-TV (FOX) in Chicago. Since that time, she has worked at KABC-TV and is currently an assignment editor at CNN’s Los Angeles bureau.

Robyn Carolyn PriceRobyn Carolyn Price is native of Los Angeles, California. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University, and studied in Florence, Italy. She is currently a master’s degree candidate in the Specialized Journalism Program at the University of Southern California. Her specialization is American politics and its effects on marginalized communities.

Read more about their reporting in Mezer and Meiser on their website, We would also like to include a link to the projects’s website, Coexistence in Israel: A Tale of Two Cities.

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Names So Similar
by Bethany Firnhaber, USC “Reporting on Israel” Journalism Student
Mezer, a kibbutz (collective Jewish community) 45  minutes north of Haifa, is known for its reputation of peaceful, productive coexistence with its Arab neighbors in nearby Meiser. The names of the two locales are so similar that on this sign, the Arabic  script in the middle puts the word for “kibbutz” in parentheses next to the word “Mezer” so there is no confusion.
Names So Similar
by Bethany Firnhaber, USC “Reporting on Israel” Journalism Student
Mezer, a kibbutz (collective Jewish community) 45  minutes north of Haifa, is known for its reputation of peaceful, productive coexistence with its Arab neighbors in nearby Meiser. The names of the two locales are so similar that on this sign, the Arabic  script in the middle puts the word for “kibbutz” in parentheses next to the word “Mezer” so there is no confusion.

Names So Similar

by Bethany Firnhaber, USC “Reporting on Israel” Journalism Student

Mezer, a kibbutz (collective Jewish community) 45 minutes north of Haifa, is known for its reputation of peaceful, productive coexistence with its Arab neighbors in nearby Meiser. The names of the two locales are so similar that on this sign, the Arabic script in the middle puts the word for “kibbutz” in parentheses next to the word “Mezer” so there is no confusion.

Comments