As Israel’s government issued a warning Monday over Iran’s nuclear program, some citizens of both countries were talking to one another in much sweeter tones online:
The love fest started after an Israeli couple made a Facebook page and blog Saturday, issuing an online call for peace. “Iranians, we will never bomb you country. We heart you,” posters uploaded to the sites read.
Hours later, the responses from Iranians started pouring in. In one, a woman from Iran uploaded a poster with the caption: “My Israeli friends, I don’t hate you, I don’t want war.”
Israeli graphic artists Ronny Edry and his wife, Michal Tamir, who created the site in collaboration with a student graphic design school, wrote on their Facebook page that while they weren’t official representatives of Israel, they still felt like their voice was important. They told Iranian readers:
“[W]e love you. We mean you no harm ... On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports.”
In an interview with Israeli news site Haaretz, Edry said he never imagined the blog and Facebook page would gain so much momentum. And at first, he said, the posts were criticized.
But by Monday, the amorous posters had hundreds of likes and shares on Facebook, a copycat Israel Loves Iran Facebook page had sprung up, and Edry suddenly had new Facebook friend requests from Iran.
“I thought that when you’re constantly surrounded by talk of threats and war, you are so stressed and afraid that you crawl into a sort of shell,” Edry told Haaretz. “So I thought, ‘Why not try to reach the other side; to bypass the generals and see if [Iranians] really hate me?’ ”
While many Iranians responded anonymously on Edry’s page, saying they feared for their lives if they used their real name, others seemed unafraid to share their honest opinion.
“The hatred was invented by the propaganda of the regime, which will die soon,” one Iranian Facebook user wrote. “Everyone hates [the Iranian president]. We love you, love, peace. And thanks for your message.”
Israel, which is just hundreds of miles from Iran, has been increasingly vocal about its fears of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic. Israel has also suggested publicly that military action might be needed. Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s multiple references to the destruction of the Jewish state has only heightened tensions.
On Monday, Israel’s President Shimon Peres sent Iran his traditional greeting for the Persian new year, saying he wished for “peace and coexistence.”
At least online, that exists for the moment.