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Hashtag Diplomacy's Actual Effects Difficult To Measure

Amid the Israel-Gaza conflict, a new social media campaign called "Jews and Arabs Refuse to Be Enemies" is getting attention for a photo of a kiss.
Posted at 1:37 PM, Jul 24, 2014

The latest Israel-Gaza conflict has seen its fair share of hashtags trend on the Internet including #GazaUnderAttack, #IsraelUnderFire, #ISupportGaza and #ISupportIsrael. Among all those hashtags, one that's emerged is trying to promote peace — the hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies. (Via Twitter)

The campaign started with Hunter College students Dania Darwish, who's from Syria, and Abraham Gutman, who's from Israel. On their Facebook page Jews & Arabs Refuse to Be Enemies they post numerous photos of Arabs and Jews together.

"We created this hashtag because we both experience a lot of hate. We both experience a lot of generalizations, stereotypes, misinformation about other people." (Via CBS)

​Gutman told The Huffington Post it was difficult for the two to open up their social media due to their feeds being full of hateful comments. They wanted "to remind people that in the bottom line we are all just people."

As the campaign builds steam, one particular photo has garnered thousands of retweets. In true Internet fashion, it's a selfie. Well, a selfie of two.

"We decided just to post a picture because it was just a nice idea. We had no idea it would become this huge." (Via Mashable)

The photo of half-Lebanese journalist Sulome Anderson kissing her Jewish boyfriend Jeremy has become the face of the campaign. The caption reads: "He calls me neshama, I call him habibi.​ ​Love doesn't speak the language of occupation." Neshama is Hebrew slang for "darling," and habibi is Arabic for "my love." (Via Twitter / @SulomeAnderson)

In a piece for New York Magazine, Anderson writes that she and Jeremy had argued over the issues. She had firsthand experience working in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and couldn't understand Jeremy's point of view until he told her that when he lived in Israel, he witnessed a bus bombing.

"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."

BuzzFeed posted a series of images that are part of the campaign, many of them containing Jewish and Muslim families. 

It's definitely touching, though to be fair, the results of social media activism have been mixed.

#BringBackOurGirls was started more than 100 days ago, and the Nigerian girls kidnapped are still held by Boko Haram. Occupy Wall Street was seen as a failure by many outlets after it "fizzled out." Kony 2012 might have been the largest viral social media campaign for change, and two years later, Joseph Kony is still free. (Voice of America, CNN, NPR)

But then there's what's perhaps the most successful campaign — also out of the Middle East. The Arab Spring used social media as a tool to organize protests that led to the overthrow or reform of several Middle Eastern governments. (Via The Guardian)

Israel's Operation Protective Edge is currently in its 16th day. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in the Middle East pushing for a cease-fire.