10 Images Of Jewish-Muslim Unity That Go Beyond The Headlines

We’re constantly bombarded by implicit and explicit images of the relationship that Jews and Muslims supposedly have in today’s world.  We are bombarded with the cliched reminder that we “used to get along” but recently have become enemies.

We’ve almost become used to it, accepted it as some sort of reality.

And, ironically, all these “interfaith” events can often cause us to feel even more disconnected.  They just don’t seem as genuine as a true connection.  It would seem the only people you would need to show such “unity” with is people you don’t get along with.

Which is why we need to look deeper.  We need to look wider.  We need to see that “unity” doesn’t mean press.  It doesn’t mean “shows of support”.  It means genuine connection and giving.

And the truth is that the world is scattered with that.  The truth is that the press likes to say just one side of the story, likes to focus on conflict.  But there is unity.  There is connection.

All we need to do is look.

1. The Muslim Family That Took In Their Jewish Friends During The Holocaust

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When the Germans invaded Yugoslavia, they destroyed many homes.  One of those homes was of the Jewish Kavilio family.  Homeless, scared, and persecuted, they fled.  During their escape, they ran into Mustafa Hardaga, a Muslim friend of theirs.  Upon hearing their story, he immediately offered that they stay at his home.  Not just stay at his home, but become a part of his family.

The image above depicts Zejnaba Hardaga, the wife of Mustafa, walking hand in hand with Mrs. Kavilio.  It’s become popular recently around the web with people claiming she is hiding Mrs. Kavilio’s yellow star, but I haven’t found any hard evidence that this is actually what’s happening here.  What is happening is a beautiful show of unity, love, and acknowledgment of basic humanity.  And that matters so much more.

The Kavilios and the Hardagas went through many trials and tribulations even after this.  Read about their harrowing experience here.

2. The Albanian Muslims Who Turned Their Nation Into A Refuge During The Holocaust

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The first photo may seem like an exception.  Just a moment of connection between two families.  Which is why the story of Albania during the Holocaust is all the more powerful.  When Hitler’s troops invaded the Balkan States, Muslims in Albania worked together to take in over 2,000 Jewish refugees.  Just like the Hardags, these Muslims risked life and limb to save their Jewish cousins.

In fact, thanks to the Muslim population of the country, Albania became the only country to be invaded by the Germans that actually had a bigger population of Jews after the war, than at the beginning.

The photos above are just a few from a series of photographs taken by Norman H. Gershman who spent over five years photographing and detailing the stories of the Muslims of Albania who risked so much to help so many.  Below is part of the story of the woman depicted in the last photo above.

The Nazis were furious over the escape, but my father claimed innocence. They brought my father into the village and lined him up against a wall to extract information about where the Jew was hiding. Four times they put a gun to his head. They threatened to come back and burn the village down if my father didn’t confess. My father held out, and finally they left. My father retrieved the man from the forest and hid him two years in his home until the war was over…

Why did my father save a stranger at the risk of his life and the entire village? My father was a devout Muslim. He believed that to save one life is to enter paradise.

You can read more of their stories here.  And buy the book here.

3. Israeli and Palestinian Medics Work Together To Save A Life

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It may be hard to see what’s happening in this photo.  So let me explain: see that Star of David?  That’s an Israeli medic who is clearly Jewish because of his yarmulke.  Those people in the army uniforms?  Israeli soldiers.  See those crescents?  Those are Palestinian-Muslim medics.  Both are working together to save the life of a young Palestinian boy who was hit by a car.

And lest you think this is an isolated incident, the IDF (Israeli army) claims that such cooperation happens a few times a day.

This is the most explosive issue when it comes to Muslim-Jewish relations.  It’s the one people will always point to and say, “No, no, the issue isn’t Muslims and Jews.  It’s Palestinians and Zionists.”  So, let’s be clear about this.  The issues are real.  But the connection between people does not have to be broken.  The connection in humanity will always be there.  And as incidents like this show, those connections are usually happening daily, even while politicians fail us, terrorists plan their next murderous campaign, and the media distracts us.

4. Palestinian Boy Enjoying Meal After Successful Surgery In Tel Aviv

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And just to drive home the point a bit more: here is a photograph of a young Palestinian boy and his mother after a successful surgery in Tel Aviv.  Even more beautiful: this boy is from Gaza.  Brought by a Christian organization which works to bring over injured children from Gaza and Iraq, these children are taken care of for the same cost as an Israeli citizen.  You can read a bit more about it here, by the person who submitted the picture to Reddit.

5. The Muslims Who Saved A Synagogue

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It happened in Bradford, UK.  A Reform synagogue was in disrepair.  Its ceiling leaking, its Eastern wall was damaged.  It seemed they had no choice: they’d have to get rid of the synagogue and walk 10 miles to Leeds to pray.

And then the secretary of a nearby mosque and a local Muslim businessman joined forces to lead a fundraising effort for the synagogue.  They succeeded, and since then the mosque’s secretary, Zulfi Karimm and the synagogues chairman, Rudi Leavor, have become close friends.

Read the whole story here.

6. The Jews Who Protected A Mosque

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This story also occurred in Britain.  As the Muslim population has grown in the country, so have the level of threats against their very presence.  Following an increase in attacks on mosques, the local “Shomrim”, a volunteer Jewish Haredi organization devoted to security of its Jewish population, offered to aid the Muslim population of London with extra protection.

Ian Sharer, the Democratic councillor who connected the Muslim population with the Shomrim put it like this:

Sharer said he sympathised with his Muslim neighbours now facing the heightened threat of Islamophobia. “Anybody who doesn’t like Jews probably doesn’t like black people, doesn’t like Sikhs, doesn’t like anybody. It’s unfounded hatred. Anyone who says they don’t like Muslims, there’s something wrong. It’s a bigoted view.”

7. Muslims Praying (And Showing Solidarity) In Auschwitz

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In May of 2013, a group of 11 Muslim imams, sheiks and teachers from nine countries visited Auschwitz.  There, they met a Holocaust survivor, spoke with a Polish family that risked their lives to save Jews at the time, and toured the site.

Just the image here is beautiful, and the statement of unity is incredible.

8. Jews And A Muslim Pray To The Same G-d

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The scene: a train in Israel.  On the left, two Jews praying.  Wearing tefillin and and talleisim on a train, a sign that they are doing their morning prayers.  On the right and in the back, a Muslim praying also.  All to the same G-d.  All just going about their lives.  The unhidden, but unspoken about, unity that happens every day in Israel and around the world.

9. The Palestinian And Israeli Bands That Toured Together

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Who knew heavy metal could promote peace?  But that’s just what’s happening as the Israeli band, Orphaned Land, and the Palestinian band, Khalas, have toured Britain.  They come from different countries.  They even write different kinds of lyrics.

But they have shown how art has an ability to transcend lines that politics often can’t.

Read their story here.

10. Full Circle

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Remember the Kavilios?  The Jewish family depicted in the first picture who were saved by the Hardagas?  Well, the story didn’t end with the Holocaust.

It was 1992 and Sarajevo was being pummeled and ethnically cleansed by Serbian paramilitary forces.  Homes were being destroyed, as were lives.  And just as happened to the Kavilios, the house of the woman who’s depicted above was completely leveled by a shell.  She and her family survived, but she couldn’t help but wondering for how long.

But this woman, Sara Pechanec, was special.  Her parents were the Hardagas.  They had saved the Kavilios.  It also happened that the Kavilios had worked to make the Hardagas named by Israel as the Righteous Among The Nations.  And so, the employees of Yad Vashem, hearing about the devastation faced by her family as well as her mother, Zejneba, who was still alive, worked tirelessly to lobby the Israeli government to save them.

Finally, in 1993, they were saved.  And when they were offered which country to move to, Croatia or Israel, they chose Israel.  And, even more amazingly, Sara eventually converted to Judaism.

“In my heart I had always felt Jewish,” she said. “We lived in the Jewish area of Sarajevo and I had always been fascinated by our neighbours. In my mind we all worshipped the one, same God anyway.” Read the rest of her amazing story here.

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  • Rivki Silver

    This is beautiful. Thank you.

  • june seghni

    Love this post..

  • Very touching post.

    I can’t find the source right now, but I once saw the former British Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks say that he went to Bosnia after the civil war to see the work being done for refugees by Jewish agencies from Israel and the diaspora. He said that the Mufti of Bosnia (I think) said to him that the Bosnian Muslim community was so grateful for the aid effort from Israel that one Muslim Bosnian man had named his son ‘Israel’.

  • Abbie Hoffman

    This would be an awesome series.

  • I’m a Muslim and I love my Jewish brothers <3

    • Victor

      I am a Jew and I love my Muslim brothers. There’s Hani and Hani and Bassam and Amjad and Majd and Saleem … 🙂

    • Robert Battista

      I’m a Christian, and I love all people, especially my Muslim and Jewish Brothers

      • Admir Karalic

        I’m a Muslim and I don’t care what color or religion you’re about, I love you no matter what 🙂 !

  • Ahmed Meligy

    Great article 🙂
    Simply beautiful and that’s what I call the Truth, no matter what our hate propaganda does, it ain’t working like it used to be because of people like us proving them wrong and liars, we all are human beings no matter where or what or how <3

  • Chaya Kurtz

    Elad, this is awesome work.

  • Guest

    Now we’re going to have to band together again to fight the Danish ban on Halal and Kosher slaughter.

    • Milhouse

      Yes, in countries where we are both minorities, we have many interests in common with them. But don’t for a moment forget that the Danish Moslems are the same ones who have repeatedly rioted and set Denmark on fire, most infamously over those cartoons. Gang rape is also a crime almost unknown until recently, and it is almost exclusively a crime perpetrated by Arab boys. Maybe this is the real reason the Danes are hostile to shechitah and milah.

    • Michael Guitouni

      you have to understand why they have in obligation to do halal and kosher. human who drink blood become a demon , only demon who drink blood. its a sin from the torah by the bible and quraan. religious way of islam and judaism have their technic to kill
      the animal same way if will take a sleeping pill. they do it with respect and great-full for the sacrifice the animal do to feed from its meat. what you dont understand scares you , its natural you are a human, if you dont know why ask and they will tell you why.
      no need for a fight. ITS forbidden the blood to be swallowed , drunk.

      • Gryphontamer

        Michael, we get that (although I disagree about the “demon” interpretation). The Danes do not. Your explanation doesn’t help the situation.

        • Michael Guitouni

          Shalom, happy holidays to all of you, and happy Hanukkah,

          to be or not, their are rules made by human, and the rules made by god, Ask any rabbi about it, Blood is forbidden to drink it. Human are not allowed to drink blood. Human with the way they behave in reality they dont need blood they are already by their evil wrong doing. we are specifying a certain group in particularity.

          Halal , are not always truth about the stamp. when you eat a kohser meat , i buy it with closed eyes. i trust more kosher food then halal. the meat of kosher have a taste you wont stop eating it.

          • Shawn Mary Reid

            What certain group specifically are you speaking of ?

  • immortal_soloist

    Very nice.

  • Felicia Nicole-Sanika Burkhard

    Masha’Allah. Stories like these give much joy. <3

  • Mikoh

    This is how G.od fearing people should always act… This should be the majority not the exception…
    Thank you for this post you brought sun a in a very grey day for me.

  • Waheed Anwer

    Immensely moved by this post, thank you for sharing love <3 peace

  • Milhouse

    These Albanians who saved Jews were exceptions, just as were found in Poland and Germany and every other country. The Albanians in Kosovo, and the Moslems in Bosnia, were allies of the Germans and Italians, and enthusiastically joined in the slaughter of Jews and Serbs. Don’t forget that that evil evil man Haj Amin al Husseini, yimach shemo, was Hitler’s ally, and recruited Moslem brigades in Bosnia to fight for him. (Many of the so-called “Palestinians” are really Bosnian.)

    It is a myth that we have always got along with Moslems. Taken as a whole, our history in dar-al-Islam was no better or worse than it was in Christendom. The pogroms, blood libels, forced conversions, and general oppression were every bit as bad, and the good times were no better than the many good times we had in Christendom. The Ottoman nobility was friendly to us; so was the Polish nobility. (The Ottomans were also mostly only nominally Moslem.)

    It’s heartwarming to see pictures of Arab children saved by Israeli hospitals. How many of those same children are now being raised to kill Jews? Remember Wafa Samir, who was given such wonderful treatment by Soroka Hospital, then came back to blow it up, and when she was released in the infamous deal for Gilad Shalit she promised to try again. She is not an exception, she is the norm.

    Above all, no matter how many good and decent Moslems you know (and I know many as well), never ever forget that they idolize that evil, despicable, bloodthirsty robber, rapist and murderer Mohammed, whom the Rambam called “the madman”. Mohammed slaughtered and expelled all the Jews of Arabia, and any religion based on his teaching cannot be respected. There are many good Moslems, because most people are basically good; but they are good despite Islam, not because of it. Many of them follow “reformed” forms of Islam, forms whose teeth have been pulled long ago, and good luck to them, but these are not forms that Mohammed would have recognized. The purer the Islam, the more bloodthirsty.

    We have many problems with Christianity, but at least its founders were peaceful people, who taught peace and love, not war, murder, robbery, and rape. Christians who behave badly are deviating from their founders; Moslems who do so are following their founder.

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  • whatcom_bassist

    To learn these examples is truly heartwarming, thank you.

  • yoni the yogi

    Beautiful. That’s what happenes when you keep politics out. I heard also the kind of same stories about Christians and Jews.

  • Ruth Broyde Sharone

    I have just shared this information with 500 people in the interfaith community. It’s timely, crucial, and a great way to reinforce the work of all of us who labor in this arena. I belong to a Muslim/Jewish women’s dialogue group–founded 11 years ago in LA–
    and we are continually marveling at the areas where our beliefs and values intersect, not even to mention issues of diet, prayer, modesty, etc. Thanks for sharing this with us! Ruth at http://www.MinefieldAndMiracles.com: Why God and Allah Need to Talk

  • Fadhli Erlanda Arlan

    this can open mind of Jew and Muslim people, they shouldn’t only read and watch Palestine and Israel conflict news for their reference

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  • Tahir

    I always usually see hate comments between religions on the internet but i am so happy and loving it to see the love comments down here. Hopefully everyone turns like this…

    • Jae

      Are you a Shia Muslim?

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  • Michael Guitouni

    why they hide such beautifull stories of unity.

    • sakura kou

      to keep the War going , Zionists propaganda never end :'(

    • mustafa juventino

      Because they want to control and poison people’s mind in order to achieve their dirty plans

  • Mark

    Khalas are from Acre. Doesn’t get any more Israeli-Arab than this…
    It’s a pretty picture saying they come from different countries but the truth is they aren’t Palestinaian. As far as I know there are no Palestinian RockMetal band. I’d be happy to stand corrected.

    • Guest

      There actually is at least one Palestinian rock group that I know of. I believer they’re from Gaza. Their hit single was “Mama, I fell in love with a Jew.” or something to that effect…

  • Great post, I enjoyed reading it

  • Dr Abner Mality

    I’ll never forget the story of a French Sephardic Jew I met in Portland who told me how an Algerian Arab Muslim neighbor slapped his face and dragged him away from the Nazi SS officers who wanted to detain him. “So *there* you are, my son! You should be at work by now! Do you know how angry I am with you?!?” It saved his family’s life.

    • mustafa juventino

      This story made me full of joy, thank u, im Algerian btw 🙂

    • Youcef Guenaoua

      Haha! me too !

  • Yahmose

    I’m Muslim and I love my Jewish, Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters.

  • A.Alexander

    Islam means submission. Muslims` social attitude is defined by their clergy – imams,Mullahs so on. They support the Muslims` aggressiveness and often the terror. There were the Palestinian supporters of the Jews 50 years ago and later: the were all murdered. So the ball is on Muslim`s side: they must stop their extremists and stop dancing and singing when their enemies die.

  • Plaza Liz

    This is a beautiful article. I will share it often. I am a Christian and love my Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters, all of us created by the same G-d. I pray for peace for our world. I believe there are many more of us who want peace than who do not. We who love peace must make our voices heard, like has been done here. Stories like these need to be broadcasted over and over. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • unknown

    Muslims want to jews go away of Arab lands because it belongs to the Arabs and the Jews have no right to build a state, but israel kills Muslims . israel took their land so I think that Jews are wrong

  • Muhammad Adel

    I can’t stop weeping

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  • D.Anand

    I am a Human. Love all. Peace……

  • Johnson

    How about all the people who live in the west bank who come from Jewish homes and do not know it or keep it quiet also there was a lot of intermarriage in the olden days between the too. It is not the way the media makes it nothing in this world is black nor white.

  • nerevar59

    I am a Christian, and I love my Muslim and Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist brothers and sisters. I would lay down my life to protect them. We are ALL Gods children. And that includes Atheists, Agnostics, Pagans, and Satanists.

  • Connor

    Muslims are very wonderful people. Same for the Jews.! ^-^

  • mustafa juventino

    I was moved by these pictures wow Mashallah, peace 🙂

  • AquinoMeloCastro

    im atheist and i love you all people

  • AquinoMeloCastro

    this is what right-wing people don’t want the world to know, that peace is possible. They like to do hate-marketing, to enhance their power.

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  • Michael Garin
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  • Sarah Khan

    I am Muslim and I love my Jewish brothers and sisters.

  • Wilko Van Der Veen

    Beautiful article.
    But muslims do not serve the same God as the Jews do.

  • TruthPrevails

    I’m a Christian who feels like I am one crying out in the wilderness. I have finally found the INVISIBLE terrorist that is the mechanism for almost all the suffering in the world. It is the Zionist , regardless of their religion be it Jew or Gentile. My dear God has revealed that these zionists Jews hav had massive monetary support from Rothchilds and others. They have NO peace in mind anywhere on earth. If we could STOPmrhe wars, we could do anything. No hunger, no strife, no anything …. Help !!!

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  • Yonatan Cruz

    I am a follower of “The Way” and love my true Jewish brother and true Muslim brother.

  • Cara Capello

    thank you for this. even though it was years ago, i brought this back up to show some people today that really needed to see this

  • Imrana Sultan

    Another muslim here. Does not matter what race or creed, you are a child of God that deserves love and respect. Much love to all my muslim and jewish brothers and sisters 🙂

    • Shawn Mary Reid

      I notice the wonderful people like you on this thread who say it dues not matter does not get many likes from the ones that or strongly matters . I want nothing more for Jewish and Muslim to continue getting along . The majority of both despise Christians or non believers of their faith . That is fine I can respect that but I can’t respect what has happened in America due to these ideologies. I am spiritual not religious and I see things with a very clear mind I have seein nothing but hate . I think people need to start heading back to Isreal and Palestine and making a new life together as brothers and sisters they do have so much in common and need to all be together . Also love to all my religion is kindness .

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  • عمر صهر علي

    I am a Muslim Moroccan and proud of that.
    Long centuries ago, Jews lived among us in love, peace and respect.
    The Muslim neighbor trusts the neighbor of the Jew and the Jew trusts his Muslim neighbor and so on.
    But after the Jews emigrate from their native country Morocco. We were Muslims here with guilt, and we were stabbed in the backs.
    My mother is still today telling me about her Jewish neighbors and praising them, but only half my heart believes her, and the other half refuses to believe.
    The two sides are both Moroccan Muslims and Moroccan Jews when you ask them how they were cohabiting. They answer positively so that some Jews who describe that they were preaching in paradise in Morocco.
    But it keeps liking to our day.
    How they were able to differentiate between two religions gave an example of peace and love for centuries.
    I feel sorry for the Jews because they allowed their motherland and their people