Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Some Israelis and Iranians love each other online

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, March 19 2012

A Facebook meme campaign promoting peace between Israel and Iran started by an Israeli couple is catching fire in both countries. As +972 reported, the couple, graphic designers Ronnie Edri and Michal Tamir, came up with a slogan to superimpose over Facebook profile pictures that reads Iranians We [Heart] You. While some responses were initially more ironic, such as "Trojans We will never bomb your country We [Heart] You" over a photo of the Trojan Horse or "Iraqis We will never bomb your country We [Heart] You" over a picture of President George W. Bush, soon many Israelis began taking it seriously.

Edri and Tamir told Haaretz that they started the campaign together with "Pushpin Mehina," a small preparatory school for graphic design students, when they uploaded posters to Facebook depicting images of themselves with their children alongside the words, "Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we [heart] you." Attached to the posters was the 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. I'm not afraid of you, I don't hate you. I don t even know you. No Iranian ever did me no harm."

Haaretz reported:

"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 and think to yourself how lucky we are to also have bombs and how lucky we are that we'll clean them out first," he said. "So I thought, 'Why not try to reach the other side; to bypass the generals and see if they [Iranians] really hate me?'"..."I never imagined that within 48 hours I would be speaking to the other side," said Edry, who explained that most of the Iranians' messages had been coming through in private, but that there had been some who invited him to be their Facebook friend. In a conversation that took place on Saturday evening, after a full day spent in front of the computer chatting to Israelis and Iranians, Edry was buzzing with excitement. "Something insane is going on here," said Edry. "I was just having a conversation with a few Iranians, trying to convince them to send me photos of themselves, and they told me that we [Israelis] might be able to publish photos, but they risk going to jail over such a thing." In the meanwhile, they conversed via private messages, with their identities concealed.

But nevertheless the page soon began receiving Iranian photos, Haaretz reported, with messages such as: "We also love you. Your words are reaching us despite the censorship. The Iranian people, apart from the regime, do not hold a grudge nor animosity against anyone, especially not the Israelis… We never saw Israelis as our enemies. As such, the regime cannot gain public support for war." The Iranian Facebook user continued, "The hatred was invented by the propaganda of the regime, which will die soon."

The Facebook page Love & Peace now has over 1,500 supporters. It is not clear how many are people from the region, as opposed to outsiders reading blog posts about the campaign, such as those by Andrew Sullivan and Robert Wright. Meanwhile, photos are also being published on the website www.israelovesiran.com. Haaretz noted that some Iranians were posting faceless pictures. The website was also encouraging supporters to tweet under the hashtag #israellovesiran.

Meanwhile, on different but related note, the Obama campaign is also eager to show it loves Israel, running an online ad on Haaretz through Google with the message "President Obama Stands with Israel" and the American and Israeli flags. The ad links to a page entitled "America & Israel: An Unbreakable Bond" that also features a seven-minute video, and encourages users to sign up for Jewish Americans for Obama.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

GO

tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

GO

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

GO

monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

GO

friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

GO

The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

GO

More