Naif? Egotist? Builder of bridges? Ambassador of peace?
Hossein Derakshan writes that most of the commenters on the Persian-language version of his blog have been supportive of his trip to Israel, an effort to show readers in Iran what people are like in the Jewish state. And an effort to show Israelis an Iranian they might embrace.
Derakhshan - who goes by Hoder - is an Iranian-born Muslim who lives in Toronto, and whose writing I came upon last year at the Global Voices site. He's been in Israel since Tuesday, breaking what he writes is "a major taboo."
As a citizen journalist, I'm going to show my 20,000 daily Iranian readers what Israel really looks like and how people live there. The Islamic Republic has long portrayed Israel as an evil state, with a consensual political agenda of killing every single man and woman who prays to Allah, including Iranians. I'm going to challenge that image.
He met an Iranian Jew who still listens to traditional Iranian music and reads Persian poetry. Together they set up a blog for the man, and named it Ginsburg Cafe, for where they met. He spoke at Tel Aviv University on how the Internet is promoting political activism in Iran. One in attendance, wrote on Derakhshan's blog:
I was very surprised and pleased to see a young Iranian activist who is trying to build bridges between the 2 societies. I was also surprised to know that young Iranians in Iran itself are so related to those virtual world of blogs... you really motivated me as a student of the Middle East to expose this new perspective of Iran. All I can tell you is that you have a new supporter, an Israeli Arab... best wishes, Amer.
Of the 130 readers who have commented on his Persian blog (a few of those comments are in English) less than a dozen have been negative, he writes. An example, from Ali:
Good luck man! I hope you enjoy it! Please say hi to Iranian people there and I hope one day the governments of both countries realize that they could be best allies and that we are culturally very similar. We are both remaining of the Persian Empire! And who know maybe one day we unite and create that again!
(Welcome worlds, though I'm not sure how that Persian Empire part would play in Herziliya.)
But Derakhshan notes that few Iranian bloggers have written about his trip. "This," he writes, "speaks volumes."