The Romeo and Juliet story plays out again; this time concerning an actual war instead of a family feud on and Facebook and Twitter rather than on the stage. Selfies of Jews and Arabs from all over the world kissing, holding hands or at least, holding up signs with hashtags #JewsandArabsRefuseToBe Enemies, have been appearing among those weary of discussing the wrenching conflict between Israel and Hamas. Tensions can run high and friendships can be broken even when those arguing are not Jewish or Arab, but these people in the photo prefer kissing to yet another argument.
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Shulome Anderson, whose mother is Lebanese and whose father, Terry Anderson, is the Associated Press former Middle East Bureau chief who was kidnapped and confined by Muslim extremist for seven years, speaks of her boyfriend from an Orthodox Jewish background who, while agreeing to be photographed, chooses to remain anonymous. Shulome admits the two have had bitter arguments about the Israeli Operation Protective Edge as a retaliation for Hamas’ firing rockets into Israel, but as Anderson told Haaretz, “[a]s 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.”
The slogan was first circulated in Hebrew several years ago and was chanted by around 300 people at a refuse-to-be-enemies rally in Haifa earlier in the month. New York Hunter College students Abraham Gutman, who is Jewish, and a Syrian friend, Dania Darwish, started the movement to turn the “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” from a slogan to a hashtag to a movement. Gutman told ABC News; “We wanted to use that same slogan, to strengthen it, to show the international community that we don’t have to be enemies.”
While Anderson admits her Orthodox Jewish boyfriend’s parents are “not okay” with their relationship, the couple finds common ground; “He calls me neshama. I call him Habibi.”