As social media becomes increasingly apparent in the lives of citizens throughout the world, its place in domestic and international political, social, cultural and economic affairs is also expected to become more prominent. There has already been much debate about the role social media played during the Arab Spring, and as various world events unfold in the years to come, social media’s capacity to incite change will undoubtedly continue to be a part of the analysis.
One such event that may act as a future case study is that of “Israel Loves Iran,” a campaign started by Israelis who believe that the “Israeli Iranian conflict has no real ground,” and is based on “nothing.” The group’s Facebook page, which was created less than two weeks ago on March 19, 2012, already has over 46,000 likes on Facebook.
The initiative, “Iranians, We Love You,” has surfaced at a time when the discourse around the two countries is centered on Iran’s nuclear progress and whether a preemptive strike by Israel against Iran is imminent. With Iran’s nuclear program looming and negotiations between various government officials taking place, these citizens have decided to take a visible, public stance opposing violent action and showcasing the need for soft diplomacy. Through this endeavor, Israel Loves Iran is shifting the focus from the respective governments to the Israeli people—the people who love Iran.
The group’s website is largely forum-based; it seeks stories from individuals that convey favorable feelings about Iran and asks for testimonies and stories about “the real Iran.” Although negative comments sometimes flare up, the discussions are primarily positive in tone. This outlet allows people of different nationalities to convene in a centralized location and find the beauty within each culture. The site also has pages entitled “Iran loves Israel,” “America loves Iran and Israel,” “Germany loves Iran,” and “Jews of the World love Iran,” which each feature testimonies and links to articles, videos, music, religious verses and stories about the mutual love shared by each of these groups.
Dispersed throughout the pages, one can find comments expressing the appreciation for the site’s creation:
“We love Israel too. No war!”
“This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”
“Give peace a chance; all we need is love…”
The Israel Loves Iran campaign is a public display of anti-war outcry. The cause behind this movement has the ability to gain vast momentum from the public, but–even with a strong backing–would it have ability to change the course of government action? Does it have the potential to change public perception?
The group’s members certainly hope so. As Ronny Edry, one of the individuals responsible for the “Iranians, We Love You” initiative told PBS Frontline reporter Neri Zilber, “We don’t want war. No matter what the governments are saying, on both sides, we are against it, since we are the ones fighting it…I think it is important that we raise our voices.” Through social media, Israel Loves Iran is trying to avert war and promote a lasting peace between the two nations.