Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

France's chronic unemployment problem

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Candidates Goodluck Jonathan and Mohamudu Buhari call for calm

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Anger at mental health stigmatisation after crash allegations

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Yemen, the Escalation; France's Three Way Race; Clarkson Shown the Exit (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Germanwings Crash; Co-pilot 'hid illness' on crash day (part 1)

Read more

#THE 51%

The extraordinary tale of the Egyptian mother who lived as a man

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: San Cristobal, Venezuela's tinderbox

Read more

FOCUS

Portugal: Anger at corruption scandals, one year after bailout

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Bistronomy: Stylish and simple eating

Read more

Middle East

Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

© Twitter

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-24

A photograph of an Arab-American woman kissing her Jewish boyfriend has boosted a social media campaign under the hashtag #JewsandArabsRefuseToBeEnemies. But can love on the web bring peace on the ground?

She’s half-Lebanese and he hails from an Orthodox Jewish family. She says she calls him habibi – “my love” in Arabic. He responds with neshama, Hebrew for "darling".

When Sulome Anderson posted a selfie of her kissing her Jewish boyfriend shortly before the July 17 launch of the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza, the photograph soon went viral under the hashtag #JewsandArabsRefuseToBeEnemies.

Soon, photographs of interfaith couples – including some with their children – began trending on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, adding a message of tolerance in a viral space that has predominantly been occupied by a discourse of hate.

In many ways, Anderson has the poster child credentials for such a campaign. The 29-year-old US-based journalist is the daughter of Terry Anderson, the former AP Middle East bureau chief who was kidnapped and held hostage by Hezbollah from 1985 to 1991.

Her boyfriend Jeremy, who has only supplied his first name to the press, comes from a family of Orthodox Jews who are “decidedly uncool” about their relationship, Anderson told ABC News.

When two New York students get together...

The hashtag #JewsandArabsRefuseToBeEnemies was launched by Abraham Gutman and Dania Darwish, both students at Hunter College in New York. Within weeks it was trending on social media sites with posts from an Iranian-Jewish couple as well as Jewish-Arab gay partners.

The decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict has seen several NGO-led interfaith tolerance programmes, including theatre workshops between Israeli and Palestinian children from the West Bank.

They have had no impact on the situation on the ground, which has continued to deteriorate with Jewish settlements destroying the dream of a two-state solution, no peace process in sight, and the death toll mounting on both sides – alarmingly so on the Palestinian side.

According to Gutman, the campaign was an attempt to balance the vitriolic dialogue on social media sites over the latest Israeli offensive into Gaza.

“The last month-and-a-half my feed was full of hateful comments. People were hiding behind keyboards and saying really rough things. And we thought that maybe there's a way to change the way that we talk about things,” said Gutman in a recent Skype interview.

While the campaign has attracted posts from across the globe, there’s little indication that  tolerance on one virtual campaign is making any difference in the real world of Middle East politics. In the aftermath of the 2011 so-called Arab Spring, the international community has come to grips with the limitations of social media activism.

But that has not stopped the push for peace and tolerance in one corner of the virtual world.

Date created : 2014-07-24

  • ISRAEL - GAZA STRIP

    Kerry arrives in Israel to push for Gaza ceasefire

    Read more

  • GAZA

    Video: Fear, death and mourning in Gaza’s Khan Younis

    Read more

  • ISRAEL - GAZA STRIP

    Israel hits Gaza targets despite diplomatic push for ceasefire

    Read more

COMMENT(S)