With the threat of an Israeli attack against Iran over that country's nuclear program gaining strength, a group of Israelis is sending out the message 'Israel Loves Iran' and they are getting the same message back from Iranians.
Tel Aviv graphic designer Ronny Edry and his wife Michal Tamirm started up a Facebook group back in March to try to bridge the distance between Israel and Iran and since then their campaign has taken off. The Facebook page now has nearly 70 thousand 'likes'. A similar Facebook page has also sprung up, titled Iran Loves Israel, and has collected more than 20 thousand 'likes'. Edry's YouTube videos have had hundreds of thousands of viewers. Edry tells Digital Journal, "it's a way to express myself and try to reach the other side."
He says he is often accused of being naive but says, "I'm okay with the title. You've got to be naive, be willing to go there, you can't go there with a gun in your hand, you have to be the guy with the big heart." He adds, "In Israel people are cynical about peace, it's like a joke, they have lost their hope." But Edry also says he was a soldier in the Israeli army and knows that "Israel is ready to respond to any threat, but the solution is to open minds to try something else."
He was just in Munich this week for a photo exhibition about Iran and met a lot of Iranians there, shaking hands and posing for photos. He tells Digital Journal, "it's a matter of images, most of the time Iran is the bad images, we have to try to show something else."
An Iranian woman wrote a post on the Israel Loves Iran blog to say, "CONTINUE to voice yourselves even if you do not hear from the Iranians as much as you would like to. The reason their response is less frequent is not because they don’t feel the same way as you do. It is because they fear for their lives if they go public with their voice." She adds,"I promise you that not once in my life have i EVER heard anyone in Iran say that they want to bomb Israel. Iranians are so preoccupied with the hardship that exists inside their country with their own government, economy, lack of freedom etc… that they seldom even think about Israel! Everything that you hear on TV or the news is propaganda. It is our government’s opinion and does not in any way represent ours."
There is also an online campaign to nominate Edry and his wife for the Nobel Peace Prize that has 480 signatures so far. Edry says, "That's funny, that's not why I do it. But if it helps to spread the message then that is okay. We have to make peace together, my main issue is reopening the minds of the Middle East to peace."