Few are the cities in the world where two national collectives in the middle of a blood-feud can be found living as neighbors. The mixed cities in Israel are the most direct everyday scenes of friction between the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. While in the Gaza Envelope, the West Bank and the Blue Line Israelis and Palestinians live as enemies on both sides of the fence, in the mixed cities they live together in shared houses, door to door, porch to porch. Against these neighborly relations, some claim that between the two groups lie alienation and foreignness, and that the mixed cities in fact contain two parallel worlds that are located on the same piece of land but have little to no contact between them. The relationship between the two sides in the mixed cities can be located anywhere on the spectrum between fertile coexistence to feelings of hostility, frustration and violence from both sides. These feelings have been increasing over the last few years.
The examination of the mixed cities can be seen as a scaled down model, or metaphor, for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at large. The weakening of the ‘two state solution’ as a viable answer for this intricate conflict, which, in addition to other factors, stems from the claim that it is not applicable anymore in any case, brings to mind the alternative – a binational state. Once this possibility becomes feasible several questions arise: Is it possible to maintain such a country without it becoming an apartheid state? Is the very notion of a ‘binational state’ is not at contradiction with the nation state of the Jewish people? And can such a country provide total equality to all its citizens? In fact, if one stops to think about it, we are already living in a binational state today, only we haven’t realized it yet. The citizens of the mixed cities feel it from up close, in the everyday reality of their lives. In this series we will discuss six mixed cities in Israel: Nof HaGalil, Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Ramla and Lod. And what about Jerusalem? Jerusalem, holy to the three religions, with its menagerie of complexities; split, ancient, an international focus of attraction. We may wish to dedicate a separate episode to her, in addition to the other ones in the series, which will deal with the Jewish and Arab people that live in it.