Try to imagine a world of peace, harmony, mixed communities, and national co-existence, with open communication, constant dialogue, and pursuit of an egalitarian reality. The first courageous steps towards such a world were taken by the Israeli settlement Neveh Shalom, or Wahat al Salaam, the first Jewish–Arab settlement in Israel.
Neveh Shalom is a rural settlement located on a hilltop in the heart of the coastal plain overlooking the Ayalon valley and the Trappist Monastery. The settlement was established in 1969 by a group of Jewish and Arab citizens following the initiative of the Dominican monk Bruno Hussar. Today there are approximately 50 families and 1800 residents in Neveh Shalom.
The residents of Neveh Shalom work to promote peace and understanding between Arabs and Jews, and the community allows two-way expression of the full identity of both peoples. Educational activities in the settlement are held in both Arabic and Hebrew and are conducted in an atmosphere of tolerance and openness. The managing body of the settlement is chosen annually by the residents and the management positions are rotated between Arabs and Jews.
Neveh Shalom is surrounded by nature spots and a panoramic view. The surrounding area is filled with forests where visitors can enjoy hiking, walking, cycling, and driving excursions. The area has many high-quality wineries that were established during the past decade. Tourists seeking a religious or spiritual experience can visit the many monasteries in the area. The Mini Israel Exhibition is also located nearby, and concerts that take place in the area throughout the year.
The settlement of Neveh Shalom has a guesthouse for visitors and tourists as well as a visitors' center and conference area that hosts Jewish-Arab meetings and seminars. Members of the settlement meet with visitors and talk about their unique way of life. During the summer visitors can enjoy swimming in the guesthouse pool, and those wishing for a few moments of solitude can visit the House of Silence - a dome-shaped white building built into the side of a hill in an isolated quiet place overlooking a picturesque view. The building has places to sit and is open to the visitors all year round. It is an ideal place for rest, relaxation, solitude and contemplation.