Strident tones are heard these days from Jerusalem, voices openly threatening to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. Threatening voices are heard from Tehran about destroying the State of Israel. Surprisingly, however, it seems that there are also those who still yearn for peace between the two countries. Graphic designers Roni Edri and Michal Tamir (a couple) began a "Peace and Love Offensive" on Facebook, directed at Iranian citizens under the slogan, “Iranians, we will never bomb you. We love you.”
During the weekend, Edri uploaded a poster to his Facebook page in which he and Michal are holding their children, who carry an Israeli pennant, with a message of love to the Iranian nation. Attached to the poster was the following caption:
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. But I'm not afraid of you, I don't hate you. I don’t even know you, except for an Iranian that I once met in a museum in Paris and he was very nice.
At first, Edri, 41, received only nasty messages from surfers who accused him of being left-wing and naïve, but then came the turnabout: more than a thousand responses appeared under the posters. “Slowly, my message seeped through and I began to receive a flood of positive responses from people who asked me to upload their pictures to Facebook with similar anti-war messages of friendship,” explained Edri. “Hundreds of others uploaded the poster, which was then shared by thousands.”
One of the Israeli surfers, Amital Sandy, raised the idea of organizing simultaneous anti-war demonstrations — in Tehran and in Tel Aviv.
Support from Iran
In addition to Israeli responses, Edri also received responses from Tehran citizens who expressed their support of his initiative and noted that they have no interest in war. “The most moving thing was when I received responses of Iranians who said that all the reciprocal threats are from politicians, and do not reflect the will of the people,” muses Edri.
One of the responders, who identified herself as “an Iranian woman,” wrote, “I read your wonderful message to members of my nation, a message that flooded my eyes with tears and warmed my heart. I want to tell you that all of us in Iran feel like you do. We only want peace and quiet in the world and hate wars and killing.”
The Iranian woman then added that she was curious whether the Israelis hate her and her people “because you have never been exposed to our real faces.” At the conclusion of her response she expressed hope that “one day we will be able to hug one another,” ending with the word “Amen.” Another Iranian citizen wrote, “Thank you for the great work you are doing. You cause us to smile from ear to ear. You can be sure that many Iranians feel similar emotions toward you and your people. None of us want war.”
The next stage: New York
Edri and his wife Tamir, graduates of the Bezalel Academy of Art, together operate the "Pushpin Mehina," a small preparatory school for graphic-design students. They uploaded the poster to the Mehina’s Facebook page, where Edri posts, “All I am is a simple Israeli citizen. Over the recent weeks I have been hearing the war noises and threats get louder and louder, by Netanyahu, Barak and others to bomb Iran, something that sounds to me like sheer madness. Therefore I decided to transmit to the Iranian nation that we, the Jewish people in Israel, do not hate the Iranians and do not want war.”
Edri, a native-born Israeli who grew up in France but served in an [IDF] combat unit, is convinced that there are many people in Iran who also don’t want war. “Sometimes on television I see an Iranian spokesman who talks about war,” adds Edri. “I am sure that he does not represent you. If you see someone on your televisions who threatens to bomb you, know that he does not represent all of us.”
Currently, Edri hopes to continue the journey he began: he wants to raise funds in order to present his message and the reciprocal responses of reconciliation and peace between Iranians and Israelis in New York’s Times Square, and on the pages of the world’s greatest newspapers.