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      Settlers Visit Arab Town, Condemn Arson

      Members of the Eretz Shalom movement visit the mosque that was torched after the demolition of homes in Migron.
      By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
      First Publish: 9/7/2011, 3:12 AM

      Settlers in Kursa
      Settlers in Kursa
      Israel news photo:Yoni Kempinski

      Members of the Eretz Shalom movement visited on Tuesday the mosque that was torched Monday morning in Qusra, a village south of Shechem in the Palestinian-Authority controlled areas of Judea and Samaria.

      The mosque was torched several hours after police destroyed three Jewish homes in a late night raid on the community of Migron in Binyamin.

      Eretz Shalom is a movement which works toward the advancement of peace and dialogue between the Jewish and Arab inhabitants of Judea and Samaria, as it states on its Facebook page. Eretz Shalom says that it is not a political movement and does not presume to offer conclusive solutions or to formulate peace agreements, but rather works to participate in dialogue and joint projects in education, religion, culture and the environment in the hopes of creating change that will burgeon from the bottom up.

      The Eretz Shalom members were joined in their visit by Rabbi Menachem Froman, the rabbi of the community of Tekoa.

      “The main message that I heard Rav Froman saying is that to do something like the burning of a mosque is a disgrace, a Hilul Hashem in the Jewish religion, and that we’re obligated to respect the Islamic faith and Islamic holy places,” said Eliyahu McLean, one of the participants in the visit.

      McLean emphasized that the visitors are a group of Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria who have no intention of leaving the region, but want to live as neighbors with the Arabs.

      “Nobody [from among the Arabs] says, ‘We want you to leave,’” McLean claimed, ignoring PA Chief Abbas' insistence that any PA state be judenrein. “They say, ‘It’s how you stay. How you relate to us. We want dignity, equality, and respect.’”

      Rabbi Froman told Arutz Sheva, “The purpose of the visit was to stress that those who committed the deed are one or two or three individuals, but we, the Jews, came to this land in order to bring peace. It is the essence of our religion to be good neighbors to our neighbors.”

      The rabbi added that the Arabs “don’t want me in my home because they think that we are against them. We came here to say that we are not against them.”

      Rabbi Froman spoke of his meeting last week with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, which gave rise to criticism from those who saw it as naivete and although well-meant, damaging to Israel.

      “He [Abbas] accepted me and was very excited to hear that we, the settlers, are not against the Palestinians,” he said. “We didn’t come here to destroy, but to build peace.”