Tens of millions of Iranians will begin the Nowruz ("new day" in Farsi) New Year's celebrations Thursday evening. Nowruz is a national holiday marking the first day of spring. Before beginning 12 days of festive family meals with dishes including sabzi (a herb stew) and gundi (chicken and chickpea dumplings) and picnics with lots of grilled meat, the Iranians will receive a special greeting this morning from Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Peres, who is the leader of the moderate policy among the Israeli leadership vis-à-vis Iran, recorded a "Happy Holiday" greeting this morning and posted it on his YouTube account. In the greeting, which is less than two minutes long, Peres did not get into political issues such as Iran's nuclear program; he simply addresses the Iranian people in Farsi and English.
"The Jewish people and the Iranian people have a very long history and are going to have a long future. The relations between your people and our people were more than good," said Peres. "I am speaking to you as a human being to a human being and I am telling you – as we had a great history we can and should have a great future. Don’t postpone it. Let's have a year of peace and forget war and threatening. We can do it."
Along with the greeting to the Iranian people Peres gave an interview to Israel Radio in Farsi, and to the Farsi news station Radio Farda, which is broadcast over the radio and the Internet all over Iran. Peres spoke about his experiences from his visits to Iran in the days when the two countries had full diplomatic relations.
"I have known the Iranian people for many years," said Peres in the radio interviews. "Your people's history calls for peace, and for all the nations to live together. Israel is opposed to bloodshed everywhere in the world. I hope that the Iranian people will allow the younger generation to build a new future, which is not filled with blood but is filled with peace and cooperation. We must talk to one another and march together toward a future of prosperity and wellbeing. Israelis and Iranians can live in peace. There's no reason why they couldn't."
After viewing the Peres's video greeting, I contacted the Prime Minister's Office and wondered whether Benjamin Netanyahu will also record a similar greeting. They said they would get back to me. I'll keep you posted.
In a similar vein, U.S. President Barack Obama also posted a video message to the Iranian people on Thursday. In his message Obama said that he believed that there was a possibility of reaching an a agreement over Iran's nuclear program.
"I'm under no illusions. This will be difficult," he said. "But I'm committed to diplomacy because I believe there is the basis for a practical solution."