Can a dating app succeed where so many other Israeli – Palestinian peace efforts have failed? Matthew Nolan thinks ‘yes’. Nolan is the brains behind Verona, a dating app specifically for those who identify themselves as either Israeli or Palestinian.
Nolan explains that he wants to facilitate world peace “one swipe at a time.” By one swipe at a time, Nolan is referring to the selection process inside the Verona dating app, which is very similar to most other online dating apps, such as Match.com and OKCupid.
Explains the Verona site, “Swipe right to like or left for next. If someone likes you back, Verona matches you up.”
The first thing one needs to do after downloading the Verona app, which is available for Android now, and iPhone and iOS next month, is to indicate whether you self-identify as Israeli or Palestinian, although you can be located anywhere in the world.
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“We’re open to anyone, in any country, who chooses to identify as either nationality, because the path to peace begins by viewing people by who they are instead of where they came from.”
Said Nolan in an interview with Israeli news site Ynetnews, “The idea for the application came to me while I was looking for a final project application for my art school studies. 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.”
That’s a sweet enough story, but an app?
Says Nolan, “We started joking and saying that there needs to be an application that would set up Israelis and Palestinians.” Nolan says that he couldn’t get the idea out of his mind, and thus the launch of Verona, which of course is named for the town in which star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet lived.
While Romeo and Juliet both ended up dead, Nolan, who is neither Palestininan nor Israeli (the New York entrepreneur describes himself as “white, middle class, in my early-thirties, male, straight and originally from the Mid-West”) hopes that the Verona app will spark new life into the social milieu of Israeli-Palestinian relationships, one romantic relationship at a time.
Still, not everyone is a fan. In fact, The Next Web‘s Mic Wright calls Nolan “misguided” (at best), and suggests that he may be facilitating more violence (at worst).
Among other things, says Wright, Nolan’s “origins immediately open Verona up to the criticism that it’s a wish fulfilment exercise by Western do-gooders unconnected to the realities of Israel and the West Bank.”
But Nolan is nothing if not idealistic, and hopeful. “I really think this is the solution,” he said in his interview with Ynet. “If you take a look at history, every time there are social changes, they usually begin with those that are willing to defy conventions.”
You can download the Verona dating app here.
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