Verona app for Israelis and Palestinians

New dating app seeks to connect Israelis and Palestinians

Verona, a Tinder-style app, inspired by a romance between a Palestinian and Israeli in New York.

The post-election atmosphere in Israel has had many abandon their hope for peace in the region in the near future, but one new application is giving peace a fighting chance with a Tinder-style model aimed to connect Israelis and Palestinians.



The idea for the app, named Verona after the city in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" where lovers from feuding families meet, was inspired by founder Matthew Nolan's Palestinian friend who met an Israeli girl in New York and fell in love.


Founder of Verona app Matthew Nolan
Founder of Verona app Matthew Nolan


Verona, which has the tagline "World peace, one swipe at a time," is almost identical to Tinder – accept for the Israeli/Palestinian catch.


Users first log into Facebook and create a profile where they identify themselves as either Israeli or Palestinian. They then upload a photo of themselves and are then shown photos of people in their area who identified as the opposite group.


Users then swipe right if they like someone or left if they don't. If the two match, if both swipe right, they can start matching and potentially meet.


"The idea for the application came to me while I was looking for a final project application for my art school studies," says Nolan during a phone interview from his Manhattan apartment.


"I have a close Palestinian friend named Khaled, and he told me he met this amazing Israeli girl who came to live here in New York, and now they're together and in love.


"We started joking and saying that there needs to be an application that would set up Israelis and Palestinians and then left the subject alone. But I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind," says Nolan.


Instead of forgetting the idea, Nolan, who works as an app developer, decided that he actually wanted to test out the waters.


"I really think this is the solution," says Nolan without any hint of cynicism. Apparently, Nolan is not kidding when he says that he believes the app could be a step toward peace in the region.


"If you take a look at history, every time there are social changes, they usually begin with those that are willing to defy conventions.


"Here in America we experienced amazing changes simply because people decided to try different things. So yes, I definitely think this is the first step on the path towards the right direction," says Nolan.


Nolan is not the only one who sees the app's potential to break barriers. The renowned tech blog RT reported that Verona has more than a thousand Android users (the IOS version will launch in June) since the app launched in March.


Most of the app's users are college students of either Israeli or Palestinian origin in the US, but Nolan says that there are also more than a few users from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah.


"I'm convinced it will work," says Nolan, while he does not go into detail about the logistics – such as how a user in Jerusalem and Ramallah could meet up.


However, Nolan says that the terms "Israeli" and "Palestinian" are loose. "If, for example, there is an Arab woman who lives in Israel but wants to identify as Palestinian, she can do so and can still meet someone to fall in love with. We have hundreds of users here that are Jewish or Arab who do not necessarily live in one of the two countries, but nonetheless identify themselves as Israeli or Palestinian."


"I think this is the first time that someone has tried to put the conflict aside and said: 'Let's see if we have another common denominator other than the fact that we are enemies.'


"Maybe the path to peace is to for a moment put aside the question of who is right and wrong. To solve the conflict through an application is of course impossible, but I am full of hope that there will be enough users who will connect with one another and understand that they have other things they can talk about other than the war," said Nolan.


פרסום ראשון: 05.10.15, 00:17
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