Some Israeli and Iranian citizens are reaching out to each other via Facebook, in light of recent sentiments that a war between their countries is not far off. While Israeli officials watch the Iranian nuclear program like a hawk, and President Obama vows to "have Israel's back," the people of the two Middle-Eastern nations are making posters that express their mutual desire for peace, harmony and understanding. They're publishing the posters on the recently-created Facebook page of the Love and Peace Campaign.
"Love and Peace" is the brainchild of Israeli couple Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir, both graphic artists, who started the campaign over the weekend. Initially the project featured only messages from Israelis. Under a picture of the submitter -- sometimes portrayed along with friends and family -- read the message:
we will never bomb your country
We <3 You
A caption attached to each message added:
To the Iranian people
To all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters
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
The photos include pictures of people, of human beings, doing very human things. Things anybody can identify with. Subjects pose with children, put arms around spouses, hug sisters, hold puppies, go to the beach, play guitar.
The message is a simple one: We are people. You are people. We can understand each other. We mean you no harm.
Participants in the campaign make it clear that they speak for themselves. "I'm not an official representative of my country. I m [sic] a father and a teacher," continues the caption, written by Edry. But they add that their sentiments reflect the attitude of the people they know, that as unofficial representatives they are giving voice to the people of Israel: "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."
These posters starting going up on Saturday. By Sunday, the site began receiving responses from Iranians, who had a similar message of peace for their Israeli counterparts. The most common message reads:
Another poster expresses the maker's desire for open discourse between the two nations.
In their photos, Iranian participants depict themselves as likewise wholly, unabashedly human. One woman holds her cat on her shoulders, another shops at a market, a man plays the accordion, another climbs a mountain, and friends and lovers hold hands and smile. A few in the posters show their faces boldly, but the majority are at least partially obscured, for fear of retribution from their government. "[W]e can't show that we are friend with anyone from Israel because it's dangerous. I think all around the world and war is between governments. I wish a world free from war and hope we be good friends [sic]" is the message of another poster.
Just three days old, the Love and Peace Campaign already has more than 1,500 likes (at the time of this writing) on Facebook, along with hundreds of photos and comments. It's a touching message of mutual respect, friendship, and understanding that transcends international borders, political ideologies, and racial, cultural, and linguistic barriers. I hope their messages prove true, and that the governments of Israel and Iran can find peaceful resolutions to their disagreements. Whatever the outcome, the Love and Peace Campaign is a testament to the fact that the actions of governments do not always reflect the ideals of their citizens, and that in the hearts of most humans lies a strong desire, as one participant wrote, "To Live In Peace,&Health,&Happiness!"