As war rages on in Gaza, it's difficult to look at the events going on with any sense of positivity. But in a new Facebook group called Jews and Arabs Refuse to Be Enemies, some light of hope shines through.
Started on July 10, the community showcases a series of powerful photos of people of both Jewish and Arab descent. Most are posing with a note that uses the hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies. The hashtag was inspired by Twitter, where it first popped up a few days prior.
The Facebook page -- which, as of Monday, has nearly 2,500 Likes -- states, "It is time to take a clear stance on the stereotypes, generalizations and the incitement of hatred! While we may not agree on the political developments of the Arab-Israeli conflict, we must demonstrate that we refuse to be enemies."
The mission statement goes on to clarify that friendship will not cause the core issues at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict to dissolve, but instead makes an effort to stop hatred in our everyday lives. The initiative aims to create a space for "civil discourse between people who identify with divergent political ideas."
The Jews And Arabs Refuse To Be Enemies Facebook page was created by Abraham Gutman, an Israeli student at Hunter College in NYC and his Syrian classmate, Dania Darwish. The two were classmates in the National Model United Nations class at Hunter College. Gutman says he and Darwish, "don't always agree, but we never felt that our different opinions changed our friendship or caused any contingency between us."
Gutman told HLN that he and Darwish feel the project is an important first step in a respectful conversation people need to have. "The hate present in social media and the use of violent terms, in our opinion, may effect things on the ground as well. We aim to defuse hate and we hope that from the bottom up change can be possible," he said.