Last year, activists used Facebook to stir-up the Arab street and oust decades-old dictators. This year, an Israeli couple is using the site to send a different message. Roni Edry and Michal Tami, an Israeli graphic design couple, created a Facebook page last week that reaches out to Iranian people, saying: “Iranians we will never bomb your country. We ♥ you.” The caption, which was originally displayed in a picture of Edry carrying his daughter who is holding an Israeli flag, has since become the artistic slogan for contributors and the inspiration for the creation of a reciprocal group, “Iran-Loves-Israel.”
Many Iranians responded anonymously for safety purposes, and the page generated unanticipated support in spite of Iran’s strict Internet content-control, which censors and blocks social media outlets, file-sharing websites, and other elements of the web. The posts express peaceful sentiments from Iranians including, “My Israeli friends: hope to live together in peace” and, “I’ve never met an Israeli. But when I found that the value of life in Israel is like in Iran, I realized these were good people.”
In a change of heart, one Iranian posted that in order to enter school he had to trample over the Israeli flag every morning, which he could once justify. However, as he notes: “after seeing your daughter holding the flag, I do not feel that way anymore, and I am so happy. Now: I love that blue, I love that star, I love that flag.”
The initiative, which is described by Tami as a way for people to bypass governments, follows Israel’s threat to preemptively strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. A potential military offensive was confirmed on Monday by Israel’s Minister of Defense who explained that Israel, out of necessity, is forced to view the prospect of a nuclear Iran with greater urgency than the rest of the world.
Whether or not one agrees with the ‘Israel-Loves-Iran’ movement’s statement against bombing Iranian nuclear facilities, the initiative serves as a reminder that the anti-Israel rhetoric and policy of Iranian leaders is not necessarily representative of its populace.