An Israeli and a Gazan blog for peace
Two men build a friendship in cyberspace, bridging a violent divide between them.
It's a friendship that spans the poles of the Israeli-Palestinian war zone – this southern Israeli border town and a Gaza refugee camp about 10 miles away.Skip to next paragraph
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The two men have not seen each other in about a year. But they are now reunited in the blogosphere, writing a joint diary to stave off their own despair and prove that a dialogue is still possible across the divide.
Titled, "Life must go on in Gaza and Sderot," the pair rants in (uneven) English about the seeming futility about the Hamas-Israeli hostilities, the daily stress of surviving the violence, and the loneliness of optimists.
"Peace man," an unemployed bachelor who resides in Gaza's Sajaiya refugee camp, blogs between Gaza's power outages and complains of insomnia from the constant overflights of Israeli attack helicopters.
"Hope man," a software programmer whose Sderot house has been buffeted on all sides by Qassam rockets, worries about being away from his kids – who are at school – when the next rockets fall.
"We decided we wanted to come out to the world, and to show that there other types of relationships between Palestinians in Gaza and Israelis in Sderot, not only rockets and violence," says the Sderot blogger. "Even though things are really awful, it's to show there can be a true connection."
On Wednesday, under pressure from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced he would resume talks with Israel after a suspension earlier this week in protest over the killing of more than 100 Palestinians in Gaza.
On the eve of Ms. Rice's visit, Hope Man said he had low expectations that her talks would yield a permanent halt to the cross-border violence. "I don't think anyone has a clue about how to get out of this bind."
Started in January, the Israeli-Palestinian blog team (http://gaza-sderot.blogspot.com/) posts about every other day and they try to steer clear of political debate. The entries include first-person accounts of dodging Qassam rockets, shopping for scarce goods in Gaza's markets, the frustrating search for like-minded Israelis and Palestinians, and a mantra-like appeal for a stop to the violence.
Afraid their public conversation may be seen as disloyal by their countrymen, they assiduously guard their true identities. The Gaza blogger says in a phone interview that some of his friends who know about the blog have expressed concern for his well-being.
The fighting of the past week, some of the worst in years, has made it almost impossible for Gazans to openly speak of peaceful relations with Israelis, even if it's only in cyberspace. "They say it's dangerous and that some groups don't like this," says Peace Man. "In Gaza, nothing is clear."