Amidst the violence and bloodshed happening literally as you read this blog, some Jews and Arabs are showing that these two groups do not have to be enemies.
Tragically, sexual violence is often used as a a tool of war. Recently, in fact, an Israeli scholar and sitting professor actually said, out loud, during an interview, that the only way to deter Palestinian terrorism was through rape:
A terrorist, like those who kidnapped the boys and killed them, the only thing that will deter them, is if they know that either their sister or mother will be raped if they are caught… This is the only thing that deters a suicide bomber. If he knows that when he pulls the trigger, or blows himself up, his sister will be raped. That’s it. That’s the only thing that will bring him back home, to keep the honor of his sister. This is the culture of the Middle East. I didn’t create it, but this is the situation.
Given this state of affairs, it is truly inspiring to see that some Arabs and Jews are challenging hate and violence by highlighting Arab-Jewish love and solidarity. Using the hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies, people who are in interfaith relationships, are the products of interfaith relationships or have interfaith friendships are taking to social media and posting photos.
In the photo featured above, for example, journalist Sulome Anderson, who is half Lebanese, kisses her boyfriend, who is Jewish and has dual Israeli and American citizenship. Anderson explains, ”when it comes down to it, we’re people and we love each other and that’s what matters most.” And, according to Anderson, the expression of love, is reaching people who would not be convinced by political arguments:
What really excites me is that there are people whose perspectives I don’t share, from the pro-Israeli side, who have retweeted our picture and others, and that’s what’s really important to me… Not so much that people agree with us, but that people who don’t agree with us are sharing this message.
The social media campaign was started by two students at Hunter College in New York City, two weeks ago. Abraham Gutman, who is Israeli, and Dania Darwish, who is Syrian, didn’t come up with the phrase, but they helped make it international and viral. Gutman says, “The campaign exists in a sense in Israel, the slogan has been alive for years in Hebrew. We wanted to use that same slogan, to strengthen it, to show the international community that we don’t have to be enemies.” Gutman laments that,
the tone online and on social media is harsher and harsher and people are using more violent words. We wanted to produce a voice that counters that. We can disagree, but we must be able to diffuse the hate.
We are trying to send the message that hate should not be part of the dialogue…. We should watch our language, we should watch what we say to others. There’s a lot of pain, a lot of tension in the Palestine-Israel conflict, but we’re trying to create an online community where people with different opinions can talk in a respectful and productive way.
Need some more inspiration? Check out this couple and their child.
Single? Don’t worry! You can take a photo with a friend or a selfie!
Katie Halper‘s Israeli cousin had a Palestinian boyfriend until Israel’s wall made it impossible for them to maintain their relationship.