Facebook: the face of empathy today?

I read a very inspiring article in the New York Times about a new Facebook page that is connecting young Palestinians and Israelis. It’s called Facebook.com/yalaYL, the YL standing for “young leaders.” This site was created by a former Israeli diplomat, and is being supported by many important people. There are welcome messages from Shimon Peres, president of Israel, and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is very excited about this project.

According to the NewYork Times article, this site is getting many Israelis and Palestinians to talk to each other for the first time. They quote an 18-year-old Palestinian student who says, “This is my first contact with Israelis. …I think it’s cool.” Another student, who got a friend request from Egypt, said, “I asked one Egyptian why he had contacted me…and he said, ‘After the revolution, everything is permitted. I want to see what Israelis are like.”

Clearly, Palestinians and Israelis will never be able to make true peace with each other until they can know each other–until they have empathy for where each other is coming from, and for what each other is going through. They must know each other, as individuals, and hear each other’s stories and experiences, feelings and desires, to be able to come to see each other as fellow human beings, rather than enemies.

Social media just might bring the world together.

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