The online campaign of love that left-wing Israelis recently directed at the people of Iran spread like wildfire on social networking sites. Signs reading, “Iranians, we love you,” and “Israel loves Iran” pervaded the Facebook pages of Israelis in various professions: artists, graphic designers, poets and even freelancers working in the media. They all pitched in to take part in the virtual demonstration of love.
This is apparently the first effort since 2003 to forge direct dialogue between peoples separated by political conflict. Nine years ago, an Israeli-Palestinian civil initiative called “The People’s Voice” attempted to advance the peace process. The movement’s goal was to reach a peace agreement directly between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, but it never really got off the ground. The initiative’s Palestinian co-founder, Sari Nusseibeh, was forced to lower his profile due to threats on his life.
Much has changed since 2003. Social networking sites have changed the rules of the game, and the Israeli Left has seemingly forgotten about the Palestinians. Why isn’t there a widespread Facebook campaign called “Palestinians, we love you”? It might be more logical to direct efforts to woo neighbors who are closer to Israel than Iranians living 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) away. After all, we’re not really that familiar with our newfound object of affection.
Perhaps comedy sketches about Iranian nuclear reactor employees on the popular Israeli satire show “Eretz Nehederet” (“A Wonderful Country”) served as the catalyst for the Iranian love campaign. On the show, friendly Iranians are portrayed as being like us – they just want to make it home safely and crack a few jokes along the way. Since the popular show gets higher ratings than news broadcasts, its characters might have contributed to shaping Israeli opinions of Iranians.
I checked, and didn’t find any other nation expressing feelings of love toward the Iranian people. Even those who most enjoy Iran’s support, like Hezbollah and forces loyal to the Syrian regime do the bare minimum by symbolically waving the Iranian flag here and there; they don’t profess their love on Facebook or post clips expressing gratitude on YouTube. Perhaps the Israelis taking part in this lovefest between Israel and Iran should ask themselves, “If we are the only ones in the world who love Iran so much, what does that say about us?”
A year ago we were excited about the Arab Spring, then we became concerned about the Islamic winter and now we are approaching the start of the Iranian summer. Our collective manic-depression has led us to fear Islamists one day and fall in love with Iranians the next. On the one hand, we’ve seen the Israeli and Iranian Facebook campaigns and YouTube clips, while on the other, we’ve heard reports about the exchange of smart bombs, ballistic missiles and assassinations on both sides around the world. One thing’s for sure – it’s going to be a hot summer.
It’s important to remind the campaign’s organizers that love stories often end badly. Falling in love is followed by meeting the parents and friends, daily routines, fighting and then it ends. So why should we be concerned now? We have Iron Dome, Arrow and Patriot to protect us, with their interception rates of 80 percent or more. The believers among us know that our Creator will ensure that missiles that don’t get intercepted will strike the sea, or unpopulated areas. Yet before we reach that point, we should remember the famous adage: Sometimes you hurt the ones you love the most.