Israel ‘hearts’ Iran: Peace campaign takes off on Facebook

Amid rising fears of an Israeli strike on Iran, an Israeli couple's lonely peace bid has become a surprise hit on Facebook.

The couple, graphic designers Ronnie Edri and Michal Tamir, decided on Saturday "to cut across the growing anxiety and fear over the possibility of an Israel-Iran war, and address Iranian citizens directly," Dimi Reider first reported in Israeli online magazine +972 (named for the country code for Israel) on Sunday.

So they uploaded to Facebook posters featuring smiling photos of themselves—ordinary Israeli citizens with their children—pledging their love for the Iranian people and assuring everyone that Israel will not bomb Iran. "Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we [heart] you," the posters, featuring smiling families, say.

"I'm not an official representative of my country," Edri wrote in his Facebook post to the Iranian people, explaining that he's just a father and a teacher, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Monday. And continued: "We love you. We mean you no harm. On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports."

Most surprisingly, the "Israeli hearts Iran" peace offering has now been met by an "Iranians love Israel" return solidarity campaign on Facebook. "We love you, Israeli people! The Iranian people do not like war with any country," a poster uploaded to Facebook states.

It's unclear how representative the campaign is of Israeli-Iranian public sentiment overall given the fear of war and official hostility between the respective governments. But Edri and Tamir say they've "received hundreds of private messages from Iranians saying they were deeply moved by the campaign," Reider reports. Now arch-enemies, Israel and Iran were allies until the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the Shah of Iran. Iran still has one of the larger Jewish populations in the Middle East outside of Israel.

"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," Edri told Haaretz Monday. "So I thought, 'Why not try to reach the other side; to bypass the generals and see if they [Iranians] really hate me?'"

More posters here.

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