Following the kidnap-murder of three Israeli teens and one Palestinian teen, the families of murdered Israeli teen Naftali Fraenkel and Palestinian teen Mohammad Abu Khudeir have drawn comfort from one another. This past week, the Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat brought to light an “emotional and special telephone conversation between two families who lost their sons.”
When Rachel Fraenkel, Naftali’s mother, opened her home to Barkat, the mayor spoke with Mohammed’s father. He expressed his condolences on the “‘barbaric’ murder of his son.” Following the meeting, Barkat put Abu Khdeir in contact via Telephone with Yishai Frakenkel, the uncle of Naftali Fraenkel who recently affirmed that “the life of an Arab is equally precious to that of a Jew. Blood is blood, and murder is murder, whether that murder is Jewish or Arab.”
There was mention also of an initiative spearheaded by Jews and Muslims to transform July 15, the Jewish fast day known as 17 Tammuz, into a joint fast day for people of both religions who wish to express their longing for an end violence in the region.
There aren’t enough words to describe how deeply we affirm and are grateful for stories like this. As war ensues, we often forget the most powerful force of all, compassion. One Palestinian involved in this encounter said, “things will only get better when we learn to cope with each other’s pain and stop getting angry at each other.” We urge not just those at war in the Middle East, but the international community as a whole, to follow in these two families – to put aside historic differences and seek with the same courage the greater goal of pace.