Riots shatter veneer of coexistence in Israel’s mixed towns

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Seventy-three years after Israel’s birth in the 1948 Independence War, in which hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were driven out at gunpoint, Jews and Arabs in Israel live side by side but largely blind to each others’ lives. (photo: Dan Balilty for The New York Times)
Israel’s Jewish and Palestinian communities looked past each other until violence and bloodshed forced a reckoning.

By Roger Cohen | The New York Times | Aug 1, 2021

“I was targeted as a Jew by radicalized thugs… But many more Arabs came to help me put out the fires than came to burn my places down. We cannot allow a violent minority to win.”
— Uri Jeremias, a celebrated Israeli chef

ACRE, Israel — Uri Jeremias, a celebrated Israeli chef, saw himself as a benefactor. By bringing jobs, tourists and investment to the mainly Arab heart of the coastal town of Acre, he believed he was seen as nurturing coexistence between Jews and Arabs.

Until an Arab mob torched his Uri Buri restaurant in May and a Jewish guest at his luxury hotel was asphyxiated in the worst inter-community riots in decades.

“I was targeted as a Jew by radicalized thugs,” Mr. Jeremias, 76, said at his airy house in Nahariya, a few miles north of Acre. “But many more Arabs came to help me put out the fires than came to burn my places down. We cannot allow a violent minority to win.”

Mr. Jeremias’s flowing Father Time beard and piercing blue eyes have become a feature of high-end travel magazines, where he has been portrayed as “cooking up coexistence” beside the glowing Ottoman walls of Acre’s Old City. He vows to restore the restaurant soon. He wants to get his 62 employees, half of them Arab, back to work, for the sake of “all the people of Acre and also the state of Israel.”

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