A Facebook campaign of love and respect between Iranians and Israelis is hoping to update its status, and migrate to posters on the Israeli street.
Over the past few months, as war talk between Israel and Iran has heated up, quieted down, and once again started to rattle, the Israel-Loves-Iran Facebook page, which professes love for our Iranian brothers and sisters, has received close to 80,000 "likes."
The page allows Internet surfers from Israel, Iran and every other country to upload photos with the caption, "Iranians, we love you. We will never bomb your country."
Israel-Loves-Iran is a virtual handshake extended in peace and a statement of total opposition to war between the two countries. Now, the page's creators are looking to take their message beyond the computer screen and into the public sphere, with an ad campaign to raise funds for billboards all over Tel Aviv.
Ronny Edry, a graphic artist from Tel Aviv and the page’s creator, has opened a campaign on Indiegogo, a global fundraising platform, to drum up $150,000 for the posters and for advertising space. His tagline for this new campaign is "Not ready to die in your war,” a sentence appearing beneath photographs of real people from all over the world.
“When I uploaded the first photo to my personal page, it got so many hits from people – Israelis and Iranians – that it just crashed,” he says. “So I opened the page that’s there now. The goal of the campaign is to reach out to our governments and show them the faces of real people. In the formal media, most of what we hear is talk about war, and we want to show the people themselves that we are different from the government and war is not what we want."
The response has not been restricted to the Israeli side. Iranians, too, are eager to express their opposition to war.
"What’s different this time is that many Iranians have come out into the open and started showing their faces and putting their photographs on posters. In the past, there was a lot of fear, so Iranians didn’t send photos or click ‘Like’ on the page,” Edry says.
Edry's Facebook page is getting a whopping 2 million hits per week, but the 41-year-old father believes that it's crucial to also get posters on the street in order to reach the average Israeli.
“The Facebook community is much more aware of the page than the Israeli street is,” he says. “We want to get as much funding as possible so we can start a poster campaign on buses, where people will be face-to-face with the images of human beings just like them. At bus stops, there is room for two posters, and the goal is have one poster showing an Israeli and another showing an Iranian."
According to Edry, the international community and foreign media have been incredibly supportive. Moreso, perhaps, than outlets in Israel.
"It’s easier for me to get an item on CNN than it is for me to get onto a morning program in Israel,” he says. “There’s also a lot of skepticism and cynicism on the Israeli street. There’s a lot of apathy about the prospect of war. Even while the missile is in the air, the average Israeli will be sitting in a café, complaining that the foam in his espresso isn’t deep enough.”
At press time, the campaign had yet to break the $4,000 mark in its fundraising. The target date for Edry's fundraising is September 22, and he is worried he won't hit his mark. His efforts to get a celebrity endorsement or a donation from large organizations abroad have also been turned down.
“I’ve been asking various celebrities abroad, and they’ve said, ‘That’s nice, but we don’t want our faces on it,’” he sighs. “But we’ll be happy to put the face of any individual who donates a large amount on the posters.”
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