Seminary students visit Bedouin sheikh injured in Jerusalem violence

Written by on April 28, 2021

A group of Jewish seminary students from Midreshet Lindenbaum visited the home of Bedouin Sheikh Jamal al-Obra in southern Israel amid the ongoing violence between Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem.

Al-Obra was the victim of assault earlier in the week by a group of Israeli teens in Jerusalem, after he had traveled there to deliver a message of peace and a call for calm.

The attack left al-Obra and his daughter lightly injured, after being pelted with rocks outside of the Damascus Gate.

The sheikh had previously visited Midreshet Lindebaum late last year, where he spoke of how Arab and Jewish communities need to educate themselves about each other to build a better understanding of the other.

Director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Midreshet Lindenbaum Rabbi Ohad Teharlev, whose son Elchai, was killed in a terror attack in April 2017, decided to make the trip to the sheikh’s residence as soon as he heard of the assault.

“I am certainly right-wing in my views and believe strongly that Jews should live and build across Judea and Samaria. But as human beings and educators, we need to realize that compassion forces us to rise above those issues,” he said.

“When we heard that the Sheikh, a man we personally know to be of peace and understanding, had been violently attacked, we knew that the right thing to do was to come here to his home and express our solidarity with him and his family.”

Teharlev expressed solidarity with the sheikh, and stated that the act committed against him was “nothing less than a terror attack committed by hooligans,” according to a Midreshet Lindenbaum statement.

“I firmly believe that these conversations between representatives of our communities is extremely important, and I know that this dialogue can only serve to address the painful divisions which sadly exist in our society,” Teharlev said. “My son, may his memory be blessed, used to say that violence will never be defeated with violence and I am hopeful that our visit here today helps spread that message.”

The sheikh brought the students to visit the programs and classes that he and his wife helped establish for senior women’s education, as well as the local mosque which includes a special section for women. According to the statement, the visit left a “very strong impression” on the students.

“These types of interfaith dialogues, unfortunately, don’t happen enough, so the chance to hear the Sheikh’s perspective was inspiring: to realize that after all that he’s experienced, he’s still so optimistic about peace and remains so respectful to people of other faiths,” said British-born student Dahlia Cohen, 19.

The sheikh said that despite the unfortunate incident, he remains steadfast in his mission for peace.

“I remain as confident as ever that only through dialogue and understanding will we ever be able to win out over these types of evil,” he said.

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