Arab-American journalist Sulome Anderson wanted to send a powerful message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians, so she kissed her boyfriend.
Sulome posted a photo of herself kissing her Orthodox Jewish boyfriend, Jeremy, on Twitter, complete with a caption “He calls me neshama, I call him habibi. Love doesn’t speak the language of occupation. Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” The picture quickly went viral, along with the hashtag #JewsandArabsRefusetoBeEnemies, a social media campaign aimed to help heal divisions in the Middle East even as the conflict in Gaza continues.
“My journalist friend suggested we post the photo because he’s intimately familiar with the biggest stumbling block we’ve faced in our relationship: politics,” Sulome wrote in a moving essay for New York Magazine. “He’s witnessed some of our fights and heard me complain extensively about our differing perspectives on the situation in Gaza.”
“Jeremy, my boyfriend, who prefers his last name not be used, comes from a family that is staunch in its support of the Israeli government,” she writes. “He lived in Israel for some time and has dual citizenship. My mother is Lebanese, and as a journalist, I am partly based in Beirut. I’ve worked in the Palestinian refugee camps scattered across Lebanon, so I’ve seen the desperate circumstances many Palestinians face.”
Despite their differences, Jeremy and Sulome’s connection runs deep.
“When it comes down to it, we love each other,” she told the New York Daily News. “It’s not about being Jewish or Arab. He makes me laugh and I feel safe when I’m with him. That’s what matters.”
Anderson also posted the viral photo on her campaign’s Facebook page. Commenters applauded her effort, and shared their own multi-cultural love stories that existed despite the larger conflict.
“Keep telling the world,” on commenter wrote. “Love is the answer.”
“I’m Jewish and my ex-husband is half Lebanese. We have a beautiful son who goes to church with his dad and temple with me,” another wrote. “He has learned about both religions and is a better, smarter person for it.”
“In the middle of unspeakable tragedy, this is a great attempt to divert the course of the narrative of hate towards a narrative of love, and maybe that will translate to a situation where there are no more grieving mothers,” another chimed in.
Situations like the one raging in Gaza can feel intractable and hopeless. It’s also hard to imagine how one individual—or two—can make a difference. But as Salome and Jeremy proved this week that where there’s love, there’s hope.
(Image via Twitter)