Israeli Launches Quirky Anti-war Campaign on Facebook

Annika Folkeson

     Israel and Iran may be nearing confrontation over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, but Israeli graphic designer Ronnie Edry has launched a quirky campaign to build peace with the Iranian public. It’s logo is “We (heart) you.” It’s message, posted on Facebook and Youtube, is “Iranians, we will never bomb your country.” The sites quickly got thousands of hits – from Israelis and Iranians.
     Launched on March 15, Edry’s multimedia initiative reaches out to all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters. He is bluntly anti-war:
I'm not an official representative of my country. I’m a father and a teacher. I know the streets of my town, I talk with my neighbors, my family, my students, my friends and in the name of all these people …we love you.
We mean you no harm.
On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports.
     Edry started by posting the message, with a picture of himself and his young daughter, on the Facebook page of Pushpin Mehina, his Tel Aviv design school. He said, in English, into the camera:
For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate.
I'm not afraid of you, I don't hate you.
... I don t even know you. No Iranian ever did me no harm. I never even met an Iranian…Just one in Paris in a museum. Nice dude.
     His subsequent Youtube video is only 96 seconds, but it covers the most volatile issue between the Muslim and Jewish governments. He appeals for reason by the two countries’ people.
I see sometime here, on the TV, an Iranian. He is talking about war.
I'm sure he does not represent all the people of Iran.
If you see someone on your TV talking about bombing you …be sure he does not represent all of us.
     The campaign was initially small, but within days it produced dozens of messages and comments on Facebook—and even a new Iranian Facebook page in response. The Iranian page says “We (heart) you Israeli people” and features a picture of Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian ambassador to Paris in the 1940s who has been called the ‘Iranian Schindler’ for his efforts to save Iranian Jews in France from the Nazis.
     Edry told Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, that one Iranian wrote him in a private message, “We also love you. Your words are reaching us despite the censorship…The Iranian people, apart from the regime, do not hold a grudge nor animosity against anyone, especially not the Israelis… We never saw Israelis as our enemies. As such, the regime cannot gain public support for war."
The YouTube video of Ronnie Edry.

The Facebook page “Israel Loves Iran”
The Iranian Facebook page
The Facebook page of Pushpin Mehina design school, on which Edry launched his campaign on March 15.
Annika Folkeson works for the Center for Conflict Management at the U. S. Institute of Peace.