'We Love You Iran' Becomes Unlikely Anti-War Campaign
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
On his recent visit here, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Iran a common enemy of Israel and the United States. For his part, Iran's president has called Israel's prime minister a skilled killer. Well, here's a Facebook message from Israel to Iran now making the cyber rounds in the Middle East. Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We heart you. Those words appear on a poster made by graphic designers Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir. It depicts Ronny and the Edrys' young daughter and, within a few hours of the posting of that image online, other Israelis began adding the graphic to their profiles. Within days, Iranians began to reply and an antiwar campaign - at least on Facebook and online - was begun.
Thousands of responses are coming in from around the world, photos, emails, videos. And Ronny Edry now joins me from his home in Tel Aviv. Welcome to the program.
RONNY EDRY: Hey, hello, Robert.
SIEGEL: What inspired you to make this poster online to begin with?
EDRY: As you said before, we have this war coming. We have these sounds of war. You have Bibi Netanyahu in the U.S. ask for your support, so I was - I just wanted to have the people's voice out.
SIEGEL: Of the people you've heard from and, say, the 50,000 likes on Facebook, do you know how many are from Iran?
EDRY: We've got a lot of traffic coming from the United States and from Germany, France, Israel and Iran. You can see the numbers and the names from the Facebook page and we got also - a lot of people that are coming from Iran through several database, you know, in the United States.
SIEGEL: You think that some of the Iranian numbers are concealed in the U.S. because that's how they're beating the restrictions on the Internet there?
EDRY: Yeah, yeah.
SIEGEL: Are we still in the hundreds or are we in the thousands or are we up to tens of thousands of Iranians?
EDRY: We're in the thousands and I hope we will be in the millions, but that's me. I'm an optimist.
SIEGEL: But, even though very large numbers of Israelis - I believe Israeli polls show most Israelis do not want there to be a strike against Iran and, obviously, polling Iranian opinion is a little bit more difficult than that. But, even so, the president of Iran speaks of Israel like it's a cancer that must be removed from the region and Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli Defense Minister Barak speak of the possible necessity for air strikes against nuclear targets in Iran. There is some reality to this. It is quite possible that there will be Israeli jets against you.
EDRY: Yeah. I agree with you. You know, I'm not that naive. I sound naive and the posters are really, you know, with the heart and everything and it sound really childish, but I'm 41. I was a soldier in the army. I was a paratrooper, actually, and I see wars. I know how it looks from the ground, so there is a threat. I am not stupid, but maybe there is another way of dealing with this threat.
SIEGEL: What do you say to Israeli or pro-Israeli critics who say, if you give the Iranians the impression - Iranian authorities the impression that Israelis want anything but war, then they will never give up the nuclear program. For that policy to work, they have to believe that you are entirely willing to attack them.
EDRY: You know, in Israel, we are ready. It's not that we are not ready. Ahmadinejad, he knows that we have bombs, also, but maybe we can try something else as people and say to the other side, guys, we don't want war with you. I want to travel to Tehran and to have a coffee. I don't want to travel in Tehran in a tank or in a plane. I mean, you know, an air strike plane.
SIEGEL: Well, Mr. Edry, thank you very much for talking with us...
EDRY: Thank you.
SIEGEL: ...today. That is Ronny Edry of Tel Aviv. He and his wife Michal Tamir began the movement Israel Loves Iran, which has turned into a small online Israeli/Iranian peace movement. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.