Message of 'Co-existence' Spread

November 26, 2006

Author: Gregg Krupa

Source: The Detroit News

WEST BLOOMFIELD -- Nadim Sheiban is an Arab who has spent his entire life in Israel, where he struggles for peace and justice for the 1.4 million Arabs who live there.

In Israel, it is called "co-existence," Sheiban, 55, told a group of mostly Jewish social workers from Metro Detroit on Friday, during a trip sponsored in part by the Jewish Community Council of Bloomfield Hills. There is much that communities in Metro Detroit and elsewhere can learn from the Israeli experience about diverse communities living in greater harmony, Sheiban said in his fourth stop in the Midwest.

Sheiban's message may be especially relevant in Metro Detroit, months after the Israeli-Hezbollah war of last summer roiled relations between Jews and Arabs, both Muslim and Christian. While there is not a history of close relations between those communities in Metro Detroit, the reaction to the war has only further complicated attempts by many to draw them together.

"Things are much better in Israel than they were 20 years ago," said Sheiban, director of the projects department for The Jerusalem Foundation, which the legendary late mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kolleck -- who struggled for equal rights and diversity -- helped to establish years ago.