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New campaign set on putting friendly Iranian faces on TA billboards

Israeli and Iranian activists met in Germany to plan a follow-up to the viral solidarity campaign that swept the web with messages of mutual love earlier this year. Now they are stepping up their slogans, and getting ready to put messages of peace from Iran on the streets of Tel Aviv.

Collection of posters from the Israel loves Iran Facebook page

Nobody could have anticipated the incredible success of the Israel loves Iran Facebook campaign started last March by two Israeli graphic designers. Messages of love and solidarity by common Israelis to Iranians flooded the web, with the recurring message: “We will never bomb your country – we love you.” It wasn’t long before Iranians living in exile began to send similar messages to Israelis, and some such voices even came out of the Islamic Republic itself, but with the citizens’ faces usually hidden. People from both countries started to talk to each other on the net directly, above their governments’ heads, and formed friendships.

Following up on the success of the previous campaign, Ronny Edry, one of the two designers-turned-peace-activists, organized a delegation that met with Iranians in Munich three weeks ago, as the war drums were starting to beat harder. The meeting led to a new campaign with a stronger message: “Not ready to die in your war”, designed in a similar fashion to the previous one, and which began to appear on Facebook profiles across the Middle East.

Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir who started the campaign (Israel loves Iran FB page)

“We stressed the point of it being ‘their’ war to signal that this is a war of politicians and not between the people,” says Edry. “Perhaps because of that we are now suddenly getting hundreds if not thousands of images from Iranians in Iran, who are willing to have their faces published, and not just a shadow or an arm or anything like that which we got the previous time around. This is what made us feel that we have to show Israelis these pictures, to advertise for peace as they advertise for Cola, and to have your average person on the streets of Tel Aviv and the surrounding metropolis see beautiful pictures of Iranians smiling at him or her from a bus stop advertisement, not in order to sell jeans but to sell regional peace.”

Iranian women in a message to Israelis

Edry estimates that a campaign on such a scale would cost $150,000, and in order to reach the sum he has opened up a fundraising page, which so far has raised about $4,000. “I think there’s a huge difference between advertising properly, and printing posters and putting them up on walls only for them to be removed and for you to be fined by the municipality,” he says. “The effect of this message, of an Iranian soldier in uniform calling for peace for example, is much stronger if it’s an official campaign with billboards that last and look good. I know we haven’t gotten enough money yet, and if we don’t make it than we’ll settle for something smaller like ads in the newspaper, but I’m hopeful that the media buzz around this, which takes place especially in international and not local media for some reason, will help us get the donations we need.”

Planned sight of billboard campaign on the wall of Tel Aviv’s IDF Headquarters

Meanwhile, more and more pictures are posted on the group’s Facebook page by the hour, mostly by Israelis and Iranians but some also by Americans, Europeans, Arabs and others, and a spin-off campaign is also picking up with the slogan “ready to live in peace.”

While these net initiatives grow, talk of a possible attack on Iran has recently been pushed to the back pages of newspapers, either because so much has been said already or because the heads of state might have come off the idea (or the spin). Either way the direct forms of contact between citizens might possibly flourish in the future into new cross national political organizations, which could possibly have an effect both here and there. But that, for now, is only a wild estimate.

Iranians on a Tel Aviv bus stop – illustration from the Facebook page

Read also:
Israeli-Iranian solidarity exchange sweeps Facebook
Visit our special coverage page: War on Iran?

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    1. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      Nice pictures, but just wondering: Who’s hotter, Iranian women or Israeli women?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Shaun

      Think this is great…
      Aaron, Aaron I’m ahhpy to argue the point about hotties in pictures. We dont get enough of them in Jlem.
      Just wondering if peace is a two way street, are there any plans for a campiagn in Iran?

      Reply to Comment
      • Steve

        Shaun: Who in Iran is agitating for war?

        Reply to Comment
      • Elisabeth

        It would be good, but I doubt that the Iranian government would cooperate. (However, they can be surprising sometimes.) In Israel many more things are (still) possible than in Iran, and we all know it. But a campaign in Israel is more important, because Israel is more likely to start a war (if all the ‘leaks’ are right). The Iranians don’t even have the bomb yet, even if they were intent one getting one and using it.

        Reply to Comment
        • AYLA

          Elisabeth–per my comment below, I’m not counting you as a cynic. You’re great and your point is well taken. by me, anyway :).

          Reply to Comment
      • Jack


        Read the signs, “…not ready for YOUR war”. “Your” refering to the israeli government that have made alot of credible threats to attack Iran.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Vadim

      How many such posters were hanged in Iran? How many Iranian newspapers called for a peaceful solution which will not include the destruction of the Zionist entity?

      This does nothing except weakening Israel’s position and morale and make it seem like a peaceful nation (not at all a great supporter of Syria and global terrorism) is being threatened by a warmongering evil (even Zionist some people may say) country for no reason whatsoever.

      I truly hope this is done out of stupidity and ignorance. Because the other possible cause – being against Israel in its struggle against Iran – really frightens me, and should scare the hell out of any true liberal.

      Reply to Comment
    4. AYLA

      Thanks, Haggai. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about the importance of positive press (and also the tone of negative press), and I was thinking about this example because I actually think we have Dimi Reider to thank for the success of this campaign. He picked up on this trend, blogged about it at 972, and in what I think was a result, the story was picked up by subsequent journals, bigger and bigger, and finally by the NY Times. And then the site started getting thousands of Likes/hits. I could be wrong about Dimi’s post being the first domino, but in any case his was a part of the wave, and if I’m right about his being the first, it just goes to show the power of one move, one voice, to shine a light on what’s good out there and attract more goodness. We must shed a light on injustice, of course (blog post on tone pending), but the light on goodness brings more light, and smart journalists like those at 972 can easily become cynical, understandably, by all you see and know; thank you for keeping an open heart. Love is stronger than hate. The scales can tilt either way right now. It’s up to us. And to the cynics: Sure, we may drop the bomb anyway. That will not make this campaign naive, or ineffective. All you have to do is read the actual dialogue in the comment threads on Israel Loves Iran to know how many hearts have changed, there.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Jacob

      I was completely enchanted by this initiative which is an amazing idea… But living in Tel Aviv I haven’t seen a single such advert… When I walked past the place today, the billboard in the main photo actually currently has an advert for energy bars…. Looking at the website it costs 100 $ USD to simply get a photo created and posted online in the tagline font…. And 1000$ (!) USD to supposedly get one put on a billboard… These billboards are non existent in Tel Aviv… A City where all social events are advertised on ad-hoc posters posted free (!) on various building site walls and just about any open space…. Surely these don’t cost 1000USD, and even if they do… Why havent I seen any!?!?

      Reply to Comment
      • Haggai Matar

        The answer is in the story. These are not real pictures taken in Tel Aviv, but rather illustrations meant to help fund raising for the poster to be put up there. 🙂

        Reply to Comment
    6. Charles

      The fly in the ointment…. The Parents Circle had the idea of raising money to pay for advertising for peace before and after 9/11.
      Can anyone tell us if that campaign had a positive impact? Many hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent….

      Reply to Comment
    7. Piotr Berman

      There is an anime series “Humanity has declined”. Increasingly isolated human communities struggle with their problem. In one episode, chicken fled from the coop, and the village council was debating what to do. After 8 hours of deliberations they decided to go out and try to catch them. Which was futile, but much less exhausting then the meeting. By the way of contrast, Israeli cabinet debated Iran issue for 8 hours with no conclusions, someone leaked that fact to the press so today there will be no meeting. Netanyahu is upset.

      I think that most sincere patriots may be driven to desperation and leak to press to avoid more 8 hours meeting. What is Netanyahu doing? (By the way, the chicken got transformed into featherless and headless chicken and created an existential threat, as they were about to embark on weapon production after mastering the art of making tasteless mass produced synthetic food.)

      Reply to Comment