Unique settler rabbi with ties to Arafat laid to rest

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

Israel on Tuesday laid to rest Rabbi Menachem Froman, 68, following a lengthy battle with cancer. Froman, head rabbi of the Jewish settlement of Tekoa, was a unique figure who went to extremes to promote coexistence between Jews and Arabs.

Obviously a staunch supporter of the Jews' right to live in Judea and Samaria, Froman was nevertheless willing to rub elbows with Palestinian leaders all the way to the top of a regime that remains dedicated to making Judea and Samaria Judenrein, clean of Jews.

Rabbi Froman was an advocate of the idea that religious leaders could do far more to solve the conflict than politicians, and so he organized and participated in regular meetings between Jewish rabbis and Muslim clerics in the so-called "West Bank."

So dedicated was Froman to coexistence that he made a personal connection with former PLO leader Yasser Arafat and visited Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the height of Israeli-Turkish tensions following Israel's raid on a Turkish-led flotilla attempting to break the Gaza blockade in 2010.

Despite belonging to a sector of Israeli society that Arab and Muslim leaders label as the main obstacle to peace, Froman's gentle nature was so disarming that he was never treated with hostility.

Many believe that Rabbi Froman's example demonstrates that peaceful coexistence on the ground is possible even between supposedly "hard-line" Jewish settlers and Palestinian Arabs. The only thing standing in the way of people like Rabbi Froman making that a reality is the meddling of the international community.

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