We all know about the latest conflict between Israel and Palestine, and the unreliable cease fire that calmed things down - until the next wave of violence. You probably don't need me to give you statistics about the death toll on each side, the destruction of buildings, lack of access to fresh water for children, and the list goes on.. In fact, you surely have an opinion on it and you know your facts very well. So Sabotage Times has asked me to write, not as a journalist but as an activist. I'm not going to tell you what I'm about to tell you for your acquisition of more information but for your taking action and, instead of just reading the news, making it.
Nearly by random, in 2004 I volunteered for
, an initiative led by an amazingly brave lady, Laura Abraham, to stop the circle of violence - from a pro-Palestinian stand (biased, yes). So since then I have had access to direct accounts from Gaza that not only made me aware of the human dimension of the ongoing conflict but also of the biased reporting as well as the naturalisation of violence and occupation as inevitable. Please keep reading, I'm pro-Israel too.
During these last weeks, the photos of children's corpses did it for me and something clicked: I could go on talking about it, as we do, and more children are going to die, next week, next month, it's just a matter of time in this cycle of revenge. So I made a commitment to give up having to be right and knowing enough to justify my views. I decided to be not-right and to be naive (so don't bother telling me that I am) to support the Israelis and Palestinians that today are standing for peace. They are the ones that know first hand what it feels to be part of a conflict, to be a target, to be treated as a traitor if you dare to call your historic enemy a brother. And they still choose to do it. Thanks to Israeli graphic designers Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir.
Ronny unwillingly found himself in a leading role because of a poster he made last March in which he appears with one of his daughters telling Iranians they weren't going to bomb them, they loved them (attached here), which he posted in his Facebook page. He immediately started receiving replies (anonymous because FB is banned in Iran), and that led to the page
and its twin,
. The first one has nearly 100K followers now. And Ronny went on to start
and then a
appeared. In March he was quoted in a Mashable article saying "Making posters is my way of reacting to things, so I just made this poster because it's what I wanted to say, (...) I didn’t think it would be this big or this crazy, but so many people relate to the message. I was under the impression I was the only one.”
Now back to Israel-Palestine: Fast-forward these months and please go to Israel-loves-Palestine in Facebook and look up the chat dated November 18th, between the Israeli admin of the page and a Palestinian boy that was cracking up under the pressure. She saved him from leaving the house there and then and getting himself killed by an Israeli soldier. That chat, to me, it's worth more than all our experts and diplomats with their sterile peace processes.
History is happening right now, they say there is a whole new generation in the
ready for peace, and I say they need our support. You know how easy it is to give into anger when someone is rude to us, imagine staying committed to peace when they kill your mates. Ronny Edry has started a chain reaction, pages of countries sending love to historic enemies are growing, people are posting grateful messages because they felt alone with their peace wish. People also stop themselves from dehumanising the enemy by reading their testimonies. These pages are supporting others (have a look at the page's Likes) not run by The Peace factory, like Peace from Gaza, where they share what it is like to live in Gaza and ask for help. Obviously Palestinian youths are living with nearly no resources, so it's not like they have electricity all day, laptops and cameras to post a lot, but they have enough, and you decide whether you want to back them up and keep them away from turning into freedom-fighters-terrorists (and we know how many more decades of dead children we'll have) or stay sceptical. The path of peace is to protect Palestinian children, not to make Israel right. And no one says in what terms it must be achieved, what they establish is that the recognition of the need to live together and the willingness to do it are key.
If you do decide that you can risk to look as idiotic as myself writing this piece, there's a lot to do: The Peace factory is the team ran by Ronny Edry that keeps alive Israel Loves Palestine and all its "cousin" pages. They are supporting
coming on the 29th (in less than two days) to be acknowledged as a state. They are also getting ready to start an advertising campaign to be put on buses with the testimonies of some of the people from Iran, Palestine and other countries of the Middle East that are ready for Peace. They want to show Israelis that people are ready for peace in the Middle East, that they don't need to vote for the politicians that manipulate them into fearing and hating the historic enemies. Elections are going to be on January 22nd 2013, so there's not much time, you can make Israelies, Palestinians, Iranians, all Middle Easterners and all Westerners a Christmas present: some time to support them. You can also contact the news channels where you've seen biased reporting and demand that to be corrected. We don't need to lie about what happens to support peace, it's not about blame any more, it's about solving a world problem.
I work in research, I can tell you one thing: if brands are online to influence what they call our "sentiment" and "narratives" about them, it may be wise to support someone from a Communication background rather than a political one, and challenge the historic sentiment and narrative to create a new one that honours life above all, and comes from the grassroots instead of the each-day-more-unreliable politicians. Right now, Ronny Edry and his team may not represent the majority of public opinion in Israel, but each action to support his simple campaign and to hear the voices of Palestinians can make this change. Achieving a sense of peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis will touch other countries too. There won't be an excuse any longer for extreme and spiteful views that have given power to the wrong people in so many places. Your deciding to give up being right and clever and look like just another pacifist hippie can touch the lives of millions more people than those living in Gaza and Israel today. Thank you.