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Whose hands hold the future?

While girls celebrate student kidnapping, plans are revealed for combined shul, mosque and church

    Two Palestinian girls make the 'Three Shalits' sign
    Two Palestinian girls make the 'Three Shalits' sign

    Two images: one to bring despair, the other full of hope.

    This week a picture of two smiling Palestinian girls making the 'Three Shalits' sign went viral.

    The youngsters were celebrating the kidnapping of three teenagers in the West bank, comparing it with the five-year kidnap of Gilad Shalit. The sign - three fingers in the air with the phrase "three Shalits" or "Shalits" written on their palms - was copied across much the West Bank and Gaza.

    But at the same time as that image of hate was released, Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders in Berlin were revealing plans for a building that will house a shul, a mosque and a church under one roof.

    The 'House of One' is due to be completed by 2018.

    A model of the 'House of One' in Berlin
    A model of the 'House of One' in Berlin

    Imam Kadir Sanci, the project's Muslim leader, said: "We want our children to have a future in which diversity is the norm."

    Mr Sanci said he saw the House of One as "a sign, a signal to the world that the great majority of Muslims are peaceful and not violent".

    The "Three Shalits" photograph - one of a series - told a very different story. Arnon Groiss, one of Israel's best-known Arabic-language broadcasters and an expert on Palestinian textbooks, said that he was "not surprised at all" by the photos. He added that Palestinian children "are indoctrinated not only by books but also by teachers, the media and the atmosphere on the street".

    There was initially confusion when other photos emerged of Palestinians giving the three-fingered salute that turned out to be references to the singing competition Arab Idol. The number three was a sign of support for the eventual Palestinian winner, Mohammed Assaf, who could be voted for using option three in the telephone poll.

    However, Mordechai Kedar, a Bar Ilan University professor who specialises in Palestinian media, reviewed a collection of pictures for the JC and found that they did not refer to Arab Idol.

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