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TeHTel: A Persian gateway to Israel
New website serves as gateway for dialogue between Israelis, Iranians through Haifa University's Tehran-Haifa-Tel Aviv online project known as 'TeHTel'
A new website is acting as a gateway for dialogue between Israelis and Iranians. TeHTel, the site for the Tehran-Haifa-Tel Aviv project which was introduced by the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at Haifa University led by the center's director Dr. Soli Shahvar, aims to connect web surfers from Israel and Iran.


"Our governments will do what they will, we the citizens can still talk to each other directly," the site's homepage states in Persian in its appeal to Iranians.


"On this website you'll meet Israelis unlike those you know from the Iranian media reports. We hope that through talkbacks and our forum you will give us a chance to speak to you too and meet Iranians different from those we know through Israeli media reports. We believe that it's time that we stop fearing each other and start talking to each other."


TeHTel has some 70 partners that provide content. The websites include major local players like The Buzzer and independent blogs. A team of volunteers translates the content from Hebrew to Persian. Pictures from Flickr and YouTube clips are all uploaded to the website with commentary and explanations in Persian.


The content includes speeches made by social activist Daphni Leef, sports news and even a music clip by Israeli singer Dudu Aharon.


"It's just the right mix," TeHTel editor and founder Yoni Shadmi told Ynet. "I want Dudu Aharon and Daphni Leef as well as scholars from the academia. In the future we'll publish Yeshayahu Leibowitz, artist Walid Kashash and more."


דודו אהרון בפרסית

Dudu Aharon in Persian on TeHTel


The editorial directive is "don't be a propaganda site": "We won't stand here on the soapbox and preach democracy and human rights," says Shadmi. "The conflict between Israel and Iran is one that exists with the current regime, a regime that when measured on any scale, a majority of Iranians don't support either."


Apparently, Shadmi's idea was worthwhile. The site which went online on March 4 has already attracted thousands of visitors from Iran, and they're there to talk.


'Meaningful discussion'

"I hope war never breaks out," writes Sayid in the website talkbacks and adds: "Israel's problems with Palestine have to do with those two countries and I see no reason for hostility."


Not all the talkbacks are friendly: Hamid writes "Everywhere on the site you note that it doesn't matter what governments do. Do you mean to say it doesn't matter even if I go to sleep at night and all of a sudden Israeli fighter jets destroy my home? It doesn't matter then either?"


Naama from Israel responded with: … I live in Israel; I am very excited to hear from you. We both share so many things, and above all the desire to live peaceful life. Hope we will be able to develop a meaningful discussion."


So does Shadmi believe that the website will be a bridge between the two countries? "The Iranian public is very complex. Its structure is religious and tribal. It has classes and complicated interests. It is a nation with complexities, beauty and ugliness – just like Israel. But there is a common denominator, even with our so called biggest enemy – after all, everyone loves lolcats."



פרסום ראשון: 03.15.12, 08:07
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