Facebook Diplomacy Soars as Israelis and Iranians March for Peace
March 25, 2012
John Glaser / AntiWar.com & Haaretz
Anti-war protest comes amid growing Facebook campaign linking Israelis and Iranians. Every US and Israeli intelligence agency has concluded that Iran does not present a nuclear weapons threat. Israel does. Iran has not threatened to attack any other nation. Israel has.
Israelis Protest Against War on Iran
John Glaser / AntiWar.com
(March 24, 2012) -- Hundreds of Israelis marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against a possible unilateral Israeli military strike on Iran, as more Israeli citizens begin to reach out to Iranians. The protest sprung up independently after a Facebook campaign by Israelis aimed at peacefully engaging Iranians went viral.
A doctoral student from Tel Aviv posted a photo of herself and her cat on Facebook, with a sign in Farsi reading: "We love you, people of Iran." Another Israeli posted a photo of himself and his daughter with a poster reading, "Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we [heart] you."
It wasn't long before the movement caught on and Iranians on Facebook began to respond in kind. Apart from the Facebook activism that seems to have started this campaign, "Israelis mounted an art exhibit in Tel Aviv centered on Iran, built a website in Farsi with news of Israeli daily life, and protested Saturday against a potential strike on Iranian nuclear installations," the Associated Press reports.
The US has become increasingly bellicose towards Iran, heaping crippling economic sanctions and hurling rhetoric at Tehran. US and Israeli intelligence agree that Iran is far off from having nuclear weapons, but while the Obama administration is decidedly against an attack now, Israel has warned that a unilateral strike may be imminent, despite the intelligence consensus.
Hundreds of Israelis March in
Tel Aviv to Protest War with Iran
(March 24, 2012) -- Hundreds of Israelis marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against a possible Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The protest came amid a recent Facebook campaign linking Israeli and Iranian citizens in their opposition to war between the two nations. Campaign leaders, however, made it clear on their Facebook page that they had nothing to do with the Tel Aviv protest march.
Last week, graphic designers Ronny Edry and his wife, Michal Tamir, unknowingly began a Facebook phenomenon when they uploaded a poster depicting Edry and his daughter with the words, "Iranians, we will never bomb your country, we [heart] you."
That one image sparked a movement of sorts, with hundreds, if not thousands, of images sent from Israel, Iran, and elsewhere in the world, in support of exposing what participants consider to be the human side of the conflict between Iran and Israel.
"My Israeli friends, I do not hate you; I do not want war. love, Peace," read many Iranian posters that were posted by Iranians to the new group page. Most of the Iranians, who posted messages to the Facebook group, did so with their faces partially veiled, possibly out of fear from the Iranian authorities.
Last Saturday, Edry said that Iranian group members explained that they could be arrested if recognized in the photos.
"Dear Israeli Friends and World! Iranians love peace and we hate hate!... and we don't need any Nuclear Power to show it!" one poster caption stated.
"I'm from Iran and love your idea and your efforts against war and for peace. I am really happy to get to know you and people like you, and hope to find more people like you. Here in Iran the situation is complicated and many people hate the governments and their bullshit," another anonymous Iranian wrote in a poster he published.
On Saturday, the protest against a strike on Iran -- one, it should be added, that was not endorsed by the leaders of the Facebook campaign -- began its march at Tel Aviv's Habima Square, making its way to the city's Meir Park.
Participants held signs with such captions as "No to War with Iran," and "Talks, not Bombs."
US, Europe, Israel Agree On Solid Intel:
Iran Nuke Threat Far Off
John Glaser / AntiWar.com
(March 23, 2012) -- The United States, European allies, and Israel all agree that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, has not decided to build one, and is several years away from having a deliverable nuclear missile. Still, aggressive postures towards Tehran continue.
In 2007, the US intelligence community concluded that Iran had halted weaponization of its nuclear program back in 2003 and has not restarted it since. That conclusion has been repeatedly reaffirmed in recent years, but some further details of the secret intelligence have been released.
According to Reuters, US intelligence intercepted telephone and email communications from late 2006 or early 2007 in which Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a leading figure in Iran's nuclear program, and other scientists complained that the weaponization program had been stopped. This was one piece of the puzzle that led to the 2007 finding.
According to reports, the US has "significantly ramped-up American covert sabotage and non-proliferation campaign" inside Iran. Apparently "the CIA's ops arm, the National Clandestine Service, along with the US military" are "scrutinizing and seizing cargo shipments bound for Iran, tapping the black market for nuclear supplies and buying up spare parts, and maximizing the collection of Iranian signal traffic." This has increased US confidence in their assessments.
One primary type of intelligence the US has on Iran's nuclear program is what is called "measurement and signature intelligence," or MASINT. These are "sensors on satellites, drones, and on the ground" measuring "everything from the electromagnetic signatures created by testing conventional missile systems to disturbances in the soil and geography around a hidden nuclear facility to streams of radioactive particles that are byproducts of the uranium enrichment process." The US "knows what Iran has and doesn't have," writes journalist Marc Ambinder.
These and other forms of intelligence have made current and former US officials highly confident that Iran has no secret uranium-enrichment site outside the purview of U.N. nuclear inspections. While it was given hyperbolic treatment in the media, the IAEA's November report helped confirm this in reporting that "the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of [Iran's] declared nuclear material."
Hawks, mainly in the US and Israel, have argued for waging preventive war on Iran in a unilateral attack aimed at crippling Iran's legal civilian nuclear program before it can make it immune from bombing by building facilities underground and making the program sufficiently redundant throughout the country.
But here again, US intelligence has held that they would detect any move by Iran to restart weaponization activities. There is simply no evidence for a nuclear program and no sensible reason, or legal justification, to attack if a nuclear weapons program is the pretext.
There are perfectly viable alternatives to sanctions, aggression, and war. If Israel, for example, agreed to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open up its nuclear program to international inspections, as Iran has, the tension would probably dissipate.
Further, if Israel agreed to give up its vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons and to imposing a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East -- a deal Iran has repeatedly proposed -- the tensions would surely vanish, along with the pretext for war. But this remains out of the question for Tel Aviv and Washington.
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