Students at Haifa University who visited the stand set up on the campus adorned with the banner "WE LOVE YOU ISRAEL" were surprised to find that it was not just another stand sponsored by some pro-Israeli organization or another, but rather one put up by Iranian students visiting Israel.
"We don't care what the politicians say. We love Israel and the Israeli people," one of the visiting Iranian students by the name of Dariush Abadan said. Together with his friends he offered local students traditional Persian sweets.
The Iranian students visiting Israel have been living as exiles in London for over a decade now. They say that they had to leave Iran since, being Christians, they were persistently persecuted there.
On their visit to the Haifa University campus they talked with Israeli students, embraced in a gesture of friendliness and exchanged contact details. The atmosphere was amiable and one of the visiting Iranians even sat down to draw portraits of the Israeli students.
"The majority of the Iranians, especially youth like me, simply love Israel. Don't believe what the regime is saying. If you ask the man on the street, you will hear quite different views," Abadan told us. He complimented the Israelis he met, noting: "They are all happy to see us and warmly welcome us. The Israelis are candid and open. If you ask me, yes, I do believe that there is a future."
The expatriate Iranian students told us that they had made contact with Dr. Soli Shahvar, head of the Haifa University [Department of Middle Eastern History] Ezri Center for Iran & Gulf Studies, who initiated and is the driving force behind a Web site dedicated to the translation of Israeli texts to Persian with the aim of serving as a bridge between the Israeli and Iranian peoples.
Tens of thousands of Iranians have already visited the Web site and some of them have even exchanged messages with hundreds of Israelis on the site's forum. Even the Iranian regime has "shown interest" in Dr. Shahvar's Web site, which was labeled by a website identified with one of the Iranian regime's senior officials as "a new means of espionage at the service of the Israeli regime."