Israeli-Arab businessmen who were asked to give an estimate to help repair damage caused to a synagogue in Haifa due to the massive fires there have said they will carry out the project pro-bono, and refuse any compensation for the restoration work.
"I decided to help and not receive any payment," said Walid abu-Ahmed, a wood panel supplier based in Haifa.
"Jews and Arabs live together in Haifa, and there is no discrimination. We must continue with this co-existence and promote peace."
The third floor of the conservative Moriah synagogue in the Ahuza area of the city was burned in the fires which raged there on Thursday.
The Rabbi of the synagogue, Dovi Hiyon, was also looking for new wooden tables to replace the ones which were destroyed in the fire. He went to carpenter Shachar Sela, who agreed to work pro-bono, asking payment only for materials.
The carpenter went to several wood suppliers before reaching out to abu-Ahmad and Ziad Yunis. When abu-Yunis heard what the wood was to be used for, he decided to give the wood free of charge.
"I had tears in my eyes when I heard what was happening," Rabbi Hiyon said. "It was so emotional to hear that Muslims were asking to donate to a Jewish synagogue. I've invited them to evening prayers to personally thank them."
Gadi Gvaryahu, Chairman of Tag Meir – an organization which encourages inter-faith dialogue – said "we need to extend our outreach to the majority of the Israeli-Arab population which is interested in co-existence. The wood supplier and the carpenter are a better representation of the Israeli-Arab population than the extremists."
Abu-Ahmed, a Muslim, said, "We are all people. I call on all citizens – Arabs and Jews everywhere – to continue to live in co-existence. We all want to live happy lives.
This is a lightly edited version of the original article published by YNet News at http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4886966,00.html