Confidence building reported between Iranian and Israeli citizens

Saturday, December 10, 2005

In contrast with the increasing tensions between Iran and Israel due to remarks made by the president of Iran, the Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, and the Iranian blogger known by the pseudonym Brooding Persian have reported that confidence building measures spontaneously occurred between Israelis and Iranians during the recent World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.

The Iranian blogger ironically commented the lack of mainstream media attention to the article, stating that "No one was cursed, clubbed, lynched, mobbed, chased, bombed, and I guess that accounts for lack of much interest anywhere in a recently reported contact between delegations from Israel and Iran in Tunis".

The Jerusalem Post noted that "Normally the two enemy states are separated by over 1,500 kilometers, loads of vitriol and, recently, threats and counter-threats in Persian and Hebrew. ... But in the football-field-sized space, where 18,000 participants at the UN summit milled between hundreds of exhibition booths, barely 12 short steps separated the delegations of Iran and Israel. Members of both delegations could not stem their curiosity about the other and visits began one by one."

The Iranian engineer Saeed Kharazi Zadeh told the Jerusalem Post reporter, "Iranian people's feelings toward Israelis are not as bad as you think" and continued later, "I don't want to explain the actions of my government. I want to explain the feelings of the Iranian people. It's not as you think. I want to say that Iranian people feel something good about [Israelis]. Not like they are the enemy."

The Israeli Ushi Kraush was quoted as saying, "I stood at the entrance to their booth, and told them I'm Israeli and asked them if it's ok for me to enter. I was really in shock, they were so friendly and open. You know, I thought they wouldn't allow themselves to speak to us," and later continued, "I met an ayatollah guy who was dressed in the same hat and clothes like Khomeini. We chatted and it turns out we studied the same topic: The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. He translated him to Persian."