These days, finding hopeful news in the Middle East is like finding water in the desert. But that’s just what the NYT’s Miriam Jordan found in a swimming pool in Jerusalem. It turns out it’s not something in the water that can help people maintain friendships and humanity in the most difficult times. It’s something even more basic. Being together. It’s a lot easier to hate an imagined “other” on the other side of a border wall and a lot easier to like someone who’s in the lane right next to you. It’s a lesson for the Middle East, and for America, where our increasingly hateful political divides are often defined by geographic ones. A Gift Article, in every sense of the word. In Jerusalem, Swimming in the Same Pool, but in Different Lanes. “They swam together, went on beach outings together, barbecued together. The best Jewish swimmers represented Israel in international meets. The best swimmers from East Jerusalem competed for a team comprising Palestinians at meets in the Arab world. ‘We don’t think about the team as Israelis and Palestinians,’ said Avishag Ozeri, 16, an Israeli swimmer who recalled being taught to swim by a Palestinian from East Jerusalem. ‘It is so normal to be together,” she said before a recent practice. ‘It’s weird even talking about it.’ But then came the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks, the Israel bombardment of Gaza that followed, and a series of social media interactions that would test the team’s unspoken rule.” The oasis they found is no mirage. It’s a simple force more powerful than any geopolitical trend: Friendship.