Rioters Destroyed a Local Symbol of Arab-Jewish Coexistence, but Not the Good Feeling behind It

May 24, 2021 | Evan Fallenberg
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A few years ago, Evan Fallenberg, a writer and professor at Tel Aviv University, bought a run-down historic home in the coast city of Acre, fixed it up, and turned it into a small hotel he named the Arabesque:

[When buying the property], I did not think much about the fact that I am Jewish and my neighbors are Arab Muslims and Christians; I assumed that if I were a good neighbor, I would receive good neighborliness in return. And so I did, after some initial and fully understandable suspicions. Arabesque blossomed. . . . We became part of the community in the town’s Old City, attending weddings and funerals and iftar after-the-fast meals during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Two weeks ago, Arab rioters ransacked the hotel. Fallenberg continues:

Other than my neighbors, I was the first to see the damage the next morning. Every piece of glass, ceramic, or porcelain that could be broken was smashed, furniture was dismantled, mirrors shattered, televisions and air conditioners ripped to pieces. . . . That next morning, neighbors stopped in or passed by, shaking their heads in disbelief. A few cried, some told stories of their own, and everyone lamented the violence of the youths who had perpetrated such a crime, with fingers pointed in a variety of directions.

During my days of mourning, I did not see how it would be possible to revive Arabesque under the shadow of such anger and hatred. And why bother, if this could happen again? But also during those days, I was buoyed by the extraordinary outpouring of support and love and encouragement from around the world and—most notably—from my Arab friends and neighbors.

From everywhere, my son and I hear the same messages: we will clean up with you. We will donate. We will stay in the hotel when you reopen. For so many people, the death of Arabesque means admitting Jews and Arabs cannot live together. For so many people, including us, that is not a possibility.

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