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Israelis and Palestinians Find Common Ground Online

by Cally Carswell 


Tags: Media, new media, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Sderot, blogging, video, war, NPR, The World,

barbed wireCoverage of the conflict in Israel and Gaza rarely has a nuanced human face. But citizens from both sides of the border are working to change that.

Peace Man and Hope Man, for instance, are friends who maintain a blog about the violence and their daily lives. Peace Man is a Palestinian, living in a refugee camp in Gaza, and Hope Man is an Israeli living in Sderot. Though the two live only about 10 miles from each other, Hope Man, whose real name is Eric Yellin, told NPR’s Melissa Block that they both knew virtually no one across the border before the blog.

“But as soon as I started meeting people,” Yellin said, “it created a real connection and understanding that on the other side of the border, there are people exactly like us who are suffering. We are suffering, too, through this conflict. But the only way to end this was through some kind of connection and dialogue.”

Gaza Sderot: Life in Spite of Everything” is an online video project similarly aimed at fostering dialogue and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. For two months, two two-minute videos—one following a resident of Gaza, the other an Israeli from Sderot—were posted to the site every day. The videos depict scenes of everyday life as its lived by normal people.

When you realize that people have the same issues about work or about love, about raising your kids, in places where you don’t first think in these terms, well then I get the feeling that we’re doing good work. And that happened quite a few times,” the project’s executive producer, Serge Gordey, told The World’s Carol Zall.

These alternative lenses not only initiate dialogue, they effectively communicate the weight of the situation for both sides, a particularly important function given the lack of on-the-ground reporting from Gaza. In a recent post, Hope Man writes, "Many people of our region have left it for good over the years. Bringing up children in such a reality seems almost abusive and certainly irresponsible." Just above that, Peace Man's latest post from Gaza ends with this reflection: "I hope I will have the chance to write you again."

Image by Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, licensed under Creative Commons.

amber_3
1/16/2009 7:46:42 AM

The first step to peace in the Middle East and every other part of the world is for members from different communities to view one another as HUMAN. I think the blog between Hope man and Peace man is a far more proactive action toward peace then the use of bullets and missiles


guillermo_2
1/15/2009 11:25:58 AM

The world community is pressuring the United States to stop arming and giving diplomatic immunity to Israel. This Israeli bombing of Gaza is inhumane and criminal. It amounts to Genocide and those responsible ought to be brought before an international criminal court of justice. The corporate fascist media in the U.S is such a Zionist apologist that they can't even report the basics. The time has come for Israel to STOP once and for all its evil colonial occupation of Palestine. We have had enough with this domination, this unjust war against the Palestinians. Israel has engaged in an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, and in a outgoing expansion of their Jewish settlements on Palestinian territories for years now. Hamas is a consequence of the brutal, abusive and ruthless Israeli occupation. The Palestinian people and Hamas are simply resisting and fighting for their freedom. It's a struggle for liberation and self determination. And for an autonomy and sovereignty that Israel has deny them for way too long now. As long as Israel continues its heinous crimes against the Palestinians There will be no "security for Israel" and no peace in the middle east. We owe it to the Palestinian people to have autonomy over their territories without Israeli intervention, occupation and control of their borders. All the Palestinians want is a sovereign Palestinian state or Palestinian territories. And a peaceful coexistence with Israel. Guillermo Kuhl gkuhl3@bellsouth.net ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, science for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable an ignorable war