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No peace talks but can social media campaign stop Israeli-Palestinian fighting?

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:37 GMT
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By Wednesday afternoon Twitter was buzzing with pictures of couples kissing each other, children holding hands and people simply getting on with their lives.

What was unusual about these pictures was that each of them appeared to show an Arab and a Jew and had the eye-catching hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies.

@SulomeAnderson tweeted a picture of a man kissing a woman who was holding a card saying “Jews and Arabs REFUSE to be ENEMIES”.

@i__maryjane said “Love>hate” and added a picture of two boys – one wearing a Jewish yarmulke, the other with a Palestinian flag painted on his cheek.

With the Israeli offensive in Gaza in its third week, people who probably won’t take part in any peace talks on stopping the bloodshed decided to tell the world that there are a lot of Jews and Arabs out there who are not only far from feeling hatred, but who love each other and live in peace.

“My mother is #Arab #American and my father is #Jewish American. They've never cared about anything but love”, tweeted @Andrewleemiller.

Another picture showed two men holding a placard saying “Why Can’t We ALL JUST GET ALONG?” One of the men was holding a second placard saying “I’M JEWISH AND I’M FROM ISRAEL” and the other held a third reading “I’M MUSLIM AND I’M FROM PALESTINE”.

Although all these pictures and statements are not necessarily a surprise – no doubt people from different ethnic groups and religions can and do love each other, make friendships, get married or just coexist -  it is unusual to see a spontaneous campaign calling for tolerance in such a situation.

Perhaps it’s good to remind us all that not everybody is fighting and not everybody hates each other, and not to label anyone just because they have a different religious belief or nationality.

Let’s just hope the campaign will have more impact than another social media campaign, #BringBackOurGirls, which was supposed to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to step up their efforts to free the girls kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram. The vast majority of the kidnapped girls are still not free.

Can a social media campaign stop fighting or have a real impact on decision makers? Have your say below.

(Editing by Tim Pearce; timothy.pearce@thomsonreuters.com)

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