Rita Boulos on why the inter-group violence seen in Israel in May did not happen in NSWaS In a recent interview with leading Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam (NSWaS) municipal chair Rita Boulos was asked why, when so many of Israel's mixed communities witnessed violence and discord in May, NSWaS had remained peaceful. Rita explained: "What protects us from the scourge of racism and violence is a long-standing devotion to maintaining equality between Arab and Jewish community members alike. We do not like the trite term 'coexistence', but after forty-two years of living in the village, we have moved consciously towards a 'shared society'... in favour of shared values, such as democracy, equality and zero tolerance for discrimination, racism and violence." Rita then addressed a crucial point: that while escalations of conflict cause great pain in the village, they only reinforce to the residents the necessity of their model of shared society. "In our life together we have invested hard work, pain and sometimes tears, in developing the muscle for inclusion of the other, of listening to the other, despite the pain", she said. "It is difficult for me, as a Palestinian, whose family is being attacked in Lod, for example, to see how the police protect the settlers and abandon the Arab residents. But I have learned to listen, understand and try to build bridges for change. Because the other side should and must be part of the change. To say that this is easy? Definitely not. But what was here only strengthened our path of education for peace and shared society instead of education for separation, intimidation and hatred. Whoever takes democracy for granted shouldn't be surprised if it falls apart before their eyes."