Parisâ€“ Beyond ideology, snippets of a true dialogue are beginning to appear between Israeli and Lebanese bloggers on the Internet. Ignoring their political differences, they benefit from the human, not to say intimate, aspect of blogs to engage in a conversation that conventional media cannot enable…
â€œWith the web, the war becomes personalâ€
Ramzi, 27, lives in Beirut. The first post published on his blog, launched just two years ago, attested to the challenge of living in a country so invaded by tourists that it becomes difficult to find a seat at the terrace of a cafÃ©. In early July, he mentioned the fact that, while waiting for a visa, he kept cancelling his plane ticket and saying â€œgoodbyeâ€ to his friends. Today, he comments on the â€œIsraeli aggressionâ€ through, namely, advertisements full of humour and poetry. Several Israelis have written to him in the form of comments to condemn the â€œwasteâ€ of this war, express their compassion, wish for a quick resolution to the conflict and call for peace between â€œneighboursâ€. Ramzi summarises this in a single line: â€œWith the web, the war becomes personalâ€ – thanks to blogs, amateur videos posted on the Internet and to the comments posted by Internet users.
This was the “first time that residents of â€˜enemyâ€™ countries engaged in an ongoing conversation while missiles were falling”
For Lisa Goldman, a Canadian-Israeli journalist and blogger who lives in Tel Aviv, this was the â€œfirst time that residents of â€˜enemyâ€™ countries engaged in an ongoing conversation while missiles were fallingâ€. And the examples abound. Thus, the first person to react on her posting dedicated to an anti-war protest last Sunday was a Lebanese woman who condemns the state of siege, the destruction of her country and the death of civilians but adds that â€œwith people like you, the dialogue will continue; we have no choiceâ€.
Beyond generating this type of civilised dialogue between citizens of warring nations, the Internet also creates otherwise more unsettling situations where the military, and those who support it, are kept informed of the consequences of their actions by the very people they are bombing. Last Monday, Shachar, a Tsahal soldier usually stationed at the Lebanese border, was on leave to attend a funeral. He took advantage of this by consulting a collaborative and very popular blog, Lebanese Bloggers, in order to stay informed of what is happening on the other side of the border: â€œWe canâ€™t see all the bombing in Lebanon from Israel (naturally, weâ€™re focusing on bombs in Israel)â€.
When hate fades awayâ€¦
For several nights now, Lisa Goldman has found herself â€œchattingâ€ live with a Lebanese man she met through his blog. Sitting on the roof of his apartment building in Beirut, he describes his impressions to her while Israeli missiles fall on the city â€œin a human, personal way that no newspaper article or television news segment can conveyâ€.
More generally speaking, what comes out of these conversationsâ€”through blogs or interspersed commentaries between Israelis and Lebaneseâ€”is a feeling of powerlessness and sadness regarding this conflict over the civilian losses it has caused, and over the policymakers of their respective countries and their international allies who have subjected them to this fait accompli. Hope is also present in these conversations, for while many Lebanese bloggers today feel hate toward Israel and will now refuse any contact with Israelis, most of those who communicate online do not consider themselves as â€œenemiesâ€ but as â€œneighboursâ€.
Lisa Goldman goes even further: â€œWhen the anger dissipates, perhaps they will remember the personal connections with their â€˜enemiesâ€™â€. Catching herself dreaming that the next generation of Lebanese and Israeli politicians and business leaders will benefit from such intimate relations, she concludes that â€œitâ€™s not so easy to kill someone you knowâ€¦ as a human being, not simply as â€˜the former enemyâ€™â€.
Excerpted from an article distributed by Common Ground News Serviceâ€“ Partners in Humanity (CGNews)
First published in Le Monde, July 19, 2006.
Reprinted with permission (excerpted without permission)