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In semi-positive article about coexistence in Haifa, news outlet claims that "Palestinians there are treated as second-class citizens"

Headline: “What I learned from Haifa”

Op-ed by Octavia Nasr, Lebanese-American journalist


“During a recent visit to this large city, I came to understand that Haifa is in fact a symbol of tolerance and coexistence. Despite the fact that Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens on various levels, they are good at utilizing the existing system in a way that serves their interests, and they effectively participate in the various domains of life in order to strengthen their Arab heritage and Palestinian identity.

Haifa taught me that the righteous cause is not dead, as its adherents continue to take pains and strive to improve themselves and move ahead in life, without ceding to the intimidations and attempts to abuse them.

In Haifa, I learned that most people there live their lives just as in any other place on earth. Haifan Blogger Abeer Khshiboon told me: ‘We live here together and conduct [our lives] side by side on a daily basis. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict isn’t part of our conversations or daily problems.’

Khshiboon‘s interest in this issue is similar to the interest shown by a large number of her Palestinian peers, and she is very connected to her identity, which is impressively exhibited by the young Palestinians. She is very educated, speaks both languages – Arabic and Hebrew – fluently, and is completely integrated into her society, yet she understands well the boundaries and challenges facing Palestinian women, and lives her life accordingly.

Those who still believe that the military struggle is the only way to regain Palestine should learn from Haifa. The pacifistic Palestinians have found a way to preserve and protect the land despite all pressures and random measures.

In doing so, they are growing demographically, succeeding socially and presenting Israel with one of its biggest challenges – and this threat speaks louder than any military offensive, and is also much harder to eradicate.

I know a young man who was baptized in the Maronite Mar Elias church on Mount Carmel about 70 years ago, and he hasn’t laid eyes on the church since. However, there is no doubt he would be happy to know that it still stands there and brings together Muslims, Christians, Jews and Druze to conduct their religious ceremonies, in a lesson of coexistence [of a kind] that only Haifa has given us!"