Acceptance committees

There's another article in the newspaper about an "acceptance committee" - i.e. a committee in charge of selected new members to an Israeli community. This one is about Nes Ammim, the Christian Zionist project in northern Israel which in recent years re-zoned some of their agricultural lands for building. They declared that they wanted to settle there both Jewish and Arab members, regardless of their religion. In practice, though "not enough Arabs" have registered, as the article says. The Arab couple highlighted in Amira Hass's article were rejected, apparently because their views were regarded as confrontational by the Jewish and foreign members of the committee.

A similar article appeared about a couple who had been rejected, this time by Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom, a couple of weeks ago. In that case, the "rejection" took place 23 years ago and apparently didn't reach the stage of appearing before a committee. The case involved a "mixed" Arab-Jewish couple. The person they spoke to, similarly Jewish, had said that she would personally be opposed to accepting such a couple due to the blurring of national identity. According to the article, the woman had said "you need to understand where we live. What will happen with the kids, and when they reach the age of military service, what will they do? And to what religion will they belong? And we are not naive, in the background there’s the Jewish Arab conflict."

So, depending of the accuracy of the two articles, they describe opposite reasons for rejection. In the case of Nes Ammim, the couple were rejected due to their confident Palestinian identity and critical view of Israeli society. In the case of the couple who wanted to live in Wahat al-Salam, they faced the possibility of rejection because their sense of national identity was suspected of not being strong enough.

I've never sat on Wahat al-Salam's "acceptance committee". Applying for membership in the community was one of the few times in my life where I had to apply to be accepted anywhere. I've heard accounts that not everyone was in favor of accepting us, so I'm grateful of the privilege of living here. I would never want to be placed in the position where I might have to reject someone else.

Personally I would prefer that our community would accept anyone that is in accord with the ideals of the community. I'd like to see more ethnic and gender diversity than we have today. But in practice, for a community like Wahat al-Salam, the issues are quite complex.

Probably Auroville, itself no utopia, is yet closer to the kind of community I would really like to live in. If I'd known more about it thirty years ago, there's no question in my mind that I would have prefered to live there, if possible. Today, I'm not sure I have sufficient motivation or courage to face another "acceptance committee", even if it were possible for me to live there.