Facebook Diplomacy Breaches the Iran Israel Divide
March 25, 2012
Dimi Reider/ AntiWar.com & Noam Sheizaf / 972 Mag.com & Larry Derfner / 972 Mag.com
On Saturday night, an Israeli couple -- two graphic designers named Ronnie Edri and Michal Tamir -- decided to cut across the growing anxiety and fear over the possibility of an Israel-Iran war, and address Iranian citizens directly. They created a slogan you can impose over your profile picture or any picture of your choice
Facebook Diplomacy Breaches the Iran Israel Divide
Scott Horton / AntiWar.com & Dimi Reider / 972 Mag.com
Dimi (Dmitry) Reider is an Israeli journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, and Index on Censorship. Reider discusses his article "Israeli-Iranian solidarity exchange sweeps Facebook in an interview with Scott Horton.
Hear how a simple friendly gesture got Israelis and Iranians talking about peace; bypassing the mainstream media's filter with Facebook, where real people can express themselves directly; and the Israeli peace movement's influence (or lack thereof) on Bibi Netanyahu. Hear the MP3 here . (9:30)
Israeli-Iranian Solidarity Exchange Sweeps Facebook
Dimi Reider/ AntiWar.com
(March 18, 2012) -- On Saturday night, an Israeli couple -- two graphic designers named Ronnie Edri and Michal Tamir -- decided to cut across the growing anxiety and fear over the possibility of an Israel-Iran war, and address Iranian citizens directly. They created a slogan you can impose over your profile picture or any picture of your choice:
[The image read:
We Love You."]
The Israeli meme nation is a harsh and biting one, and many of the first responses were on the cynical side:
[Image of a parody poster with the image of a Trojan Horse and the message: "Trojans. We would never bomb your country. We love you."
And some added messages of their own; as these are also being enthusiastically copied and reproduced, it's hard to establish authorship, but one of the more popular ones ran:
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. I never even met an Iranian…Just one in Paris in a museum. Nice dude.
I see sometime here, on the TV, an Iranian. He is talking about war. I'm sure he does not represent all the people of Iran. If you see someone on your TV talking about bombing you …be sure he does not represent all of us.
I'm not an official representative of my country. I'm a father and a teacher. 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.
To all those who feel the same, share this message and help it reach the Iranian people.
And then came the response:
"We love you, Israeli People.
The Iranian people do not like war with any country."
[One of the images on this series of posters showed Iranian Diplomat Abdol-Hossein Sodari, the "Iranian Schindler," who helped up to 2,000 Jews to flee Germany for safety in Iran.]
[Another variation of the poster included the words of Cyrus the Great (600-530 BC):
"I announce that everyone is free to choose a religion. People are free to live in all regions and take up a job provided that they never violate other's rights."]
The couple told "The Marker" they had received hundreds of private messages from Iranians saying they were deeply moved by the campaign.
So what does it all mean? Quite simply, that neither party has any appetite for a war right now. As an Iranian first strike on Israel is not even on the cards right now, Iranian opposition to war may come as no surprise. But it's important to stress the Israeli opposition to war reflected above is also far from an abstract "make love not war" one.
A recent survey found a whopping 50 percent of Israelis were totally opposed to an attack on Iran, even if the diplomatic efforts to stall the nuclear program failed. 43 supported the move, but 78 percent of those surveyed recognised that even a successful attack would at best delay Iran's acquisition of an A-Bomb by a few years. Only 16 percent believed such an attack would wipe out the Iranian nuclear program for good. An earlier survey that specifically asked if Israel should attack on Iran on its own found 65 percent of Israelis were opposed.
Although I'm normally very cynical on just how much leaders care for public opinion when making a decision to go to war, we should remember Netanyahu is first and foremost a populist and that this is an election year. I'd be surprised if Netanyahu doesn't repeatedly reminisce on the experience of his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, who went to a much more popular war in Lebanon, botched it, lost power and set in motion the destruction of his own party; although Olmert characteristically leeched on to power for another two and a half years, the inconclusive ending of the war and the severe casualty toll foretold Kadima's downfall as soon as the ceasefire in Lebanon was enacted.
A war with Iran has much higher chances of failure and much greater casualties are at stake. In this situation, such campaigns might -- just might -- add a few grams of pressure on Netanyahu to stay his hand.
More Iran coverage on +972 Magazine:
*Poll: Most Israelis against Attack on Iran
*Author David Grossman against attack on Iran -- by Israel or US.
*US embassy alarmed by ‘missile' in anti-war art project
*In front-page editorial, Pro-Netanyahu paper supports attack on Iran
*Polls: Israelis fear unilateral strike more than Iranian bomb
*Poll: Huge majority opposes unilateral Israeli war on Iran
Poll: Most Israelis against Attack on Iran
Noam Sheizaf / 972 Mag.com
(March 7, 2012) -- Since the shift in the American policy, to one which is much more hospitable to Netanyahu and his government, every time the prime minister returns from Washington, his numbers jump. The last poll (from Haaretz) sees the Likud with 37 seats, which means a very easy job assembling the next government.
Yet note this: Despite personal support for Netanyahu, a clear majority of the public -- 58 percent! -- believes that Israel should not strike Iran's nuclear facilities on its own, even if the United States decides to avoid military action. In a country where military operations usually get very high support in the public (until they go wrong), this is very telling. With all of Netanyahu's Holocaust rhetoric, it seems that Israelis don't want this war.
Poll: Huge Majority Opposes Unilateral Israeli War on Iran
Larry Derfner / 972 Mag.com
(March 1, 2012) -- This is the best news on the antiwar front since Meir Dagan went public -- a poll published today by Dahaf, Israel's leading public opinion surveying firm, found that only 19 percent of Israelis are in favor of Israel bombing Iran on its own, which is what most everyone, myself included, is predicting Israel will do.
The poll results, though, are not all peace and love -- a plurality of 42 percent favor a joint U.S.-Israeli attack, which means the pro-war camp has a 2-1 advantage over the peace camp. (32 percent are against an attack on Iran, period.)
But if you judge by the public statements of Israeli politicians, there's 0 percent opposition to war. If you judge by the news coverage and the commentators, there's maybe 5 percent opposition. There's been such a brainwashing campaign going on in this country, such a colossal amount of self-censorship by all the politicians, security establishment types and other influential figures over the war issue, so I find it remarkable that only 19 percent of Israelis are behind Netanyahu and Barak, that one-third of the public doesn't want a war of any kind, no matter who's behind us.
I hope to God that Obama brings this up in his meeting on Monday with Netanyahu, and in his speech the day before to AIPAC. This is powerful ammunition. And I hope to God that Peace Now, Meretz, Hadash, David Grossman, Amos Oz and everyone else who's ever fought for peace in this country takes this poll as a wake-up call. There's a movement waiting to be born. There's a chance to stop this thing.