At the time when the war between Israelis and Palestinians seems at its most bleak, there are Jewish and Arab families who are using social media to prove that individuals don't have to be part of the hate.
The 'Jews and Arabs Refuse to Be Enemies' campaign was started by Abraham Gutman, an Israeli student living in New York, and his friend Dania Darwish, who is Syrian.
"Dania and I don't always agree when we talk about politics," he told HuffPost Religion. "But we always managed to hold a discussion without ever becoming rude or angry.
"In the last month it was hard for us to open our social media accounts. Our feeds were full of hateful comments. We wanted to create a community of people that oppose this kind of speech and to remind people that in the bottom line we are all just people."
But it took off as a global viral phenomena with a photo posted by Lebanese-American journalist Sulome Anderson and her Jewish boyfriend Jeremy, which has been retweeted thousands of times.
— Sulome Anderson (@SulomeAnderson) July 13, 2014ADVERTISEMENT
"In the days leading up to the war, mounting tension between Israel and Hamas was a frequent topic of discussion between Jeremy and me," Anderson wrote in a piece for the New Yorker.
"These discussions often turned into arguments and sometimes flat-out fights. Jeremy took issue with my assumptions about Israelis; I couldn’t understand why he seemed to place more emphasis on Israeli lives than Palestinian ones. But as he eventually revealed to me, he’d witnessed a bus bombing during his time in Israel. He had seen that violence from the other side.
"As the region exploded into war, we started to come closer together in our opinions given the fact that we both share critical values: respect and concern for human life. I showed him some of the heart-wrenching photos coming out of Gaza; most people can’t see those tiny, broken bodies without feeling pain and regret for their short lives and the violence that took them. I’m not saying we reach a consensus on everything now. But we do agree on something: This isn’t just about politics. This is about people."
Anderson’s father was Middle East Bureau Chief for the Associated Press in Lebanon in 1983, at the height of the country's civil war. Two years later, three months before Anderson was born, her father was kidnapped by a Shia militia group that spawned Hezbollah, and held captive for nearly seven years.
The hashtag grew exponentially since the picture was posted, with many people sharing pictures of their mixed-faith relationships, friendships and children. Many are Israeli or Palestinian, others come from other Middle Eastern countries, Europe and North America.
THINK ABOUT ITJuly 23, 2014