#09 Prejudice
Sarah Klein

"All You Need Is Love – Peace in the Middle East?"

Let's close our eyes for a moment and forget the bloody conflicts between Israel and its neighbours that have dominated the Middle East for decades. For a moment we will give in to a utopic vision in which the people of the Middle East live together in peace, in which they tolerate and even like each other.

Now open your eyes, though you may find it hard to believe them – this utopia has become a reality. At least on the net where more and more citizens from the Middle East are coming together in defiance of national borders to declare their mutual friendship. The "We love" initiative, laughed off as short-lived campaign in March of this year, is rapidly growing into a global movement.

Israel loves Iran

"We love Iran" – not an expression you really expect to hear out of the mouth of an Israeli, and certainly not from thousands of Israelis. It is even more confusing when Iranians and Palestinians respond "we love Israel."

In March 2012, Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry had a photograph taken of himself holding his young daughter – then added the text "Iranians we will never bomb your country. We ♥ you". To clarify for the viewer exactly which country was refusing to bomb Iran, the girl is holding an Israeli flag in her hand. Edry posted the picture on the Internet and almost immediately his spontaneous idea for promoting international understanding turned into a transnational movement.

"Change has begun. Where there was nothing, there is now an open line of communication. Live on the internet. We are talking, we are sharing, we are liberating ourselves from the fear we lived in. The wall of fear is falling." Ronny Edry

The reaction to his photograph was so amazing, that after just a few days Edry launched a website to accompany the Facebook fanpage: "Israel loves Iran". Media the world over reported on the campaign with a positive general tenor but audible underlying scepticism: this would not change the situation in the Middle East, let alone have any effect on politics. And anyway – the excitement and enthusiasm could hardly last. Half a year has since passed, and not only has the campaign garnered international attention; it has also entered the next phase. From the internet to the streets of Tel Aviv – the current campaign themes feature on busses and walls, and the slogan has even been taken up by the graffiti scene:

Iran returns the love

Edry already has over 90,000 fans. The Iranian equivalent is not quite as active yet; nonetheless over 20,000 fans of the largest Iranian "We love Israel" Facebook page is no small achievement. The site's creator, Majid, also earns his living as a creative mind – just on the Iranian side. He wrote on the Facebook page:

"Somebody everyday threat me on the TV to attack my country, my family, my brothers and sisters. He is talking about war which is going to be happened soon (...). I'm sure he does not represent all of Israelis. If you see someone on your TV talking about eliminate your country from the earth, you ...be sure he does not represent all of us at all."

And suddenly we see the leaders of both countries in our mind's eye. The governments are frequently and openly attacked on the pages. One Iranian guest user wrote under the "Iranians love Jews" section on Edry's homepage: "Iranians love all people, We don't want war. [...]. I say put Ahmadinejad and Netanyahu in a room to fight and leave people out, ha?" He entitled his post: "IRAN will always love ISRAEL, don't listen to the government, we don't elect our leaders." Political caricatures are popular on Majid's Facebook page.

"Our ignorance is their (the government's) power." Majid

The "Iran loves Israel" site's operator, Majid, posted an image with the slogan below, clearly entitling it: "Our ignorance is their (the government's) power."

"Not Ready to die in your war" reads the respective response from Edry.

For over six months now, both sides have been sending identical messages: Majid's plea posted at the end of October goes perfectly with Edry's newest Vote-Peace-campaign:

Elections are coming to Iran, Israel and the USA. To win, they will spread the fear of war. They advertise war. They will say: Bomb, Terrorist, War, War, War, War and nothing.
The fear of war is their most important key. When people are afraid, they are achieving their goal.

They have their own Red Line and so do we.
Our Red Line is: PEACE & NO WAR

SHOW YOUR RED LINE TO THEM.
JUST NO WAR
Majid

It will be exciting to see the extent to which this movement continues to grow over the coming months. If you would like to support the campaigns, please visit:

 

Issue #09

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