What a Sweet Family from Texas can Teach My Neighbors

Last Saturday night I attended a thanksgiving gathering held by friends celebrating one year since surviving a terrorist attack on them in their home. Early one morning, as my friend opened his door, two high school seniors from the neighboring Arab village attacked him with knives. They had started from home with a hand gun, too, but lost it while going over the fence. Although my friend was injured by them and had blood streaming down his face, he succeeded in pushing them out of the house, saving his wife and children. Town security was alerted, starting the chain of events that brought about the taking down of the two young terrorists.
Simultaneously 'community forces' took over. The paramedic initially stayed with the kids, the volunteer ambulance driver took my friends to hospital, another neighbor took the kids, and others scrubbed the house clean from the blood. By next morning when I visited to see how they were – there were no signs of yesterday's drama, just "get well" signs from the community. My friends responded to the incident by going ahead with plans to enlarge their house, to accommodate their growing family.
The incident made me think: what poisonous hate had those kids been taught in high school that inspired them to attempt to kill some Jews, including women and children? Is it immutable fate that such hate is taught, that makes kids want to go kill their neighbors just because they're different?
Just think: my town is over thirty years old, built on ownerless land that wasn't even used by anyone, and we (supposedly) have lots of guns, yet I can't recall a single incident where someone from my town went into the neighboring Arab villages to harm anyone. I'm a teacher here; I know that we don't teach hate, we respect the Divine of every human being and wouldn't hurt anyone unless in self-defense. Who are the teachers that taught those kids? Who are their religious leaders? What do the kids learn at school and hear in the mosque?
Apparently they learn absolute hatred for the "descendants of apes and pigs", the "wolves" who in mythology ruined their lives – the Jews.
Does it have to be that way? Clearly the answer is: no!
When I guide a group in the Old City of Jerusalem, I always start by asking everyone where they come from. Some answers surprise me, as the time I had a group that were obviously Chinese, but said they were from Vancouver! It's true they were from Vancouver, but the youngsters translated for their elders from English to Chinese.
Last week I saw a family who looked as if they came from India. When I asked, they said they're from Texas! The kids spoke impeccable American-accented English while the parents had a slight accent. The parents had emigrated from Pakistan decades ago to the U.S. Judging by the head coverings mother and daughter wore I assumed they were Muslims, which was correct.
By the end of the tour I was enchanted with the family, curious to know more about them. We spoke briefly. I appreciated their ability to preserve their religiosity in the face of what is sometimes aggressive secularism in America, and despite the fact that apparently most religious people in Texas are Baptists, not Muslims.
It was their first visit to Israel. They had learned more in four days than they had ever known before, about religions and Israel. The country was astoundingly different than portrayed in the media. They saw the good; they saw so much diversity in so small an area, with almost everyone getting along. A city with such a variety of people from different religions, and all in all, mostly, there is harmony and tranquility in Jerusalem. It's so obvious, really, that the media misses it and sometimes so do we locals. Seeing hijab-garbed Muslim women next to scarf-covered Orthodox Jewish women, Ultra-Orthodox Jews with uncut sidelocks– payot, or peyes – mixed with secular Jews and Arabs with a flock of Russian Orthodox or Greek priests walking the streets of Jerusalem are all normal everyday sights.
My friends from Texas saw the peace because they were sweet and peaceful. I wish all of my nearby neighbors would learn something from this sweet family from Texas that I met where you can meet everyone – in Jerusalem.