Sholom & Mohamed: Brothers In Spite Of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Mohamed Ghumrawi and Sholom Neistein have been friends for six years.
Sholom is Jewish. Mohamed is Muslim and of Palestinian descent.
"I think it’s interesting how people perceive our friendship," says Mohamed, or Moe for short. "People see us and the first thing that comes to mind is, 'A Palestinian and an Israeli together? What? I must be in the "Twilight Zone".' ”
But Sholom and Moe's friendship is about as normal as any other. They play basketball together. They're both fans of the Miami Heat. They both like Jordan shoes. In 2009, Moe helped Sholom win a student government presidency at Florida International University, their alma mater.
Still, with the current conflict between Israel and Gaza, their friendship is seen as dangerous to some peers. And Moe and Sholom do clash on certain aspects of the conflict. But despite rifts and disagreements, the pair have maintained their friendship, and have found that their commonalities outweigh their differences.
Listen to them explain how their friendship grew, and why they refer to each other as brothers:
Sholom and Moe also engage in intense political discussions about Israel and Palestine through phone conversations and social media.
Their conversations are not always well received by their Facebook friends.
"I've had friends demean Sholom, call him names, and Sholom has had friends demean me, call me a terrorist, say I’m a moron, unintelligent," Moe says. "We see a lot of this hostility toward us, but we don’t let it get to us."
Moe is very pro-Palestine and Sholom is very pro-Israel, but they believe finding common ground is what will ultimately resolve the conflict.
"We refer to each other as brothers because we want to be brothers in peace," says Sholom. "We want unity. We don’t want any disputes, we don’t want people tearing each other apart. We’re all of the human race. We all want what we want, which is peace."