The initiative to tell Iranians that Israelis refuse to go to war with them is creative, important and moving – but, like so many other great initiatives here, it is tainted by the fact that we are a society at war, a society whose art cannot be appreciated simply for what it is.
I wasn’t swept up by the whole “Iranians we love you” campaign that exploded last week – even though I do think it is a great, creative initiative expressing the most basic human urge to resist violence and war. But I could not help but be moved by this video, posted by the same people who started the campaign:
It has already been covered by the New Yorker and ABC News. Even though only around 1,000 people showed up to rally against war with Iran in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, the Facebook page of the “Israel loves Iran” initiative already has over 40,000 likes. A decent percentage of the population here.
But this heart-warming video, filmed on Rothschild Boulevard in central Tel Aviv, the exact location of the hub of the social justice “tent protests” last summer, is a troubling reminder of the one major issue that remains neglected, among the issues that manage to take Israelis by storm – a big elephant in the room staring into the abyss of the status quo. Sure, there was a short-lived poster campaign about Israelis loving Palestinians that followed the Iranian one on Facebook, but it has not galvanized a critical mass of people behind the demand to end the occupation, that will soon enter its fifth decade of existence.
Would Israelis make a similar video about Palestinians? Would such an initiative get 40,000 likes? Can Israelis translate their message of non-violence and desire for peace regarding Iran to the streets of Hebron or Jaffa? When you have daily night raids by the army in Palestinian villages, prisoners on hunger strike in danger of death and the state going to bat with the High Court over an illegal outpost that should have been a non-issue in the first place, then what does a pretty face holding a sign really mean anyway?
I was genuinely moved by this video – but then I was nagged by the fact that it is also a reminder of the inability to lead a normal life here. However much I want to just enjoy and appreciate music, art and whatever else, it is hard to not feel everything is shrouded in darkness, and ultimately become cynical. Sure, there are problems and injustices everywhere in the world. But this is where I live, and this is what the government here does in my name.
It is a real tragedy that all creation here ultimately feels tainted, and that it is so easy to grow disillusioned. That is why I personally feel my creativity must be devoted to bringing about a change where one day, I can look at something produced in Israel, and be able to simply enjoy it.