The second intifada broke out when I was a spaced-out little kid, living in Canada. I remember being called in to school-wide assemblies to pray for the safety of our Jewish brethren in Israel. At recess we kids gathered in hushed tones to share horror stories that we had overheard about the scary Arabs. “Arab” became a bad word, “Muslim” was the biggest insult.

Two years ago my toddler and newborn son learned about sirens. We live in Be’er Sheva, it was Operation Protective Edge, and rockets from Gaza were flying over our heads. A few times a day or night, we’d have to rush to shelter, sit, and count the booms until it was safe to leave. Over the following days and months we heard about many heartbreaking tragedies. The country did its best at joking through the ordeal, but there was no denying it; tension was in the air. My Facebook newsfeed held sprinklings of conversations somewhat resembling those school kid whispers. Muslims were the enemy. All of them.

During Operation Protective Edge, my husband holding my sleepy toddler when a siren went off in the middle of the night.

I don’t want my kids to hate Muslims.

My grandma’s family is from Iraq. I always thought that was the coolest thing. She told me that the family had lived there for almost 2,000 years. As a kid, I loved to sit at my grandma’s side and listen to stories of my ancestor’s life in Baghdad. Apparently my great-grandma was a pretty feisty little girl, and feared nothing. When their Arab neighbors started to throw stones at them, she’d pick them up and throw them right back. Things got pretty rough for Jews in Iraq, and so sometime before the Second World War, with the rise of Nazi propaganda, the family left everything behind and fled to India.

My great-grandmother, Serach, and her mother Chana, who had escaped Iraq with their family.

My grandma’s family experienced real horrors in Iraq, but she told me more. She told me about the times not long before then, when the Jews and Muslims of Baghdad were good friends. They did business together, shared positions in parliament, and my great-great-great grandma may have been a doctor to the royal family. I listened as she empathetically told me about times when Muslim countries were the safest places for Jews to live and thrive. She told me about Jewish scholars who wrote their greatest works in Arabic. Jews and Muslims would sometimes share places of prayer. Jews and Muslims, my grandma told me, are friends. Cousins even.

My great-great-great grandmother Mas’ouda in the center, with family in Iraq.

My grandma told me wonderful stories and traditions from her ancient Jewish family and Muslim neighbors. Years later I learned that these stories never went away. We’re still cousins, and we still get along.

My kids are growing up in a world where hate and fear speak loud enough to drown out the more beautiful reality. I want my kids to know that there are people who choose to ignore the evil messages – that most of us really want to live side-by-side in peace. That there are Jews and Muslims everywhere who are friends. Cousins. With colorful histories that intertwined for centuries, and still continue to share and build and create a beautiful existence.

I don’t want my kids to hate Muslims. I want them to find the reality where we help each other, human to human, and together, make that reality speak the loudest.