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Israel Loves Iran shows how online communities can forge real-world bonds

It started with a poster, created by a designer living in Tel Aviv, and posted on Facebook – a simple message from two Israelis to Iran: “We will never bomb your country. We love you.”

Within twenty-four hours, hundreds of Israelis had repurposed the poster, including photos of themselves behind the words and sharing it on the web. It took only one more day before messages of response began pouring in from Iran – even more stirring because internet access (including access to Facebook) is heavily restricted in Iran and posting can be difficult – even risky.

The words cut like a beacon through the noise of so much division and strife, and echo the first message written by Roni Edry – the poster’s original designer:

“To the Iranian people – to all fathers, mothers, children, brothers, and sisters: For there to a war between us, first we must be afraid – one of each other. I am not afraid of you. I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you.”

Watch the powerful video Edry posted to describe the movement:

What started with an image on Facebook elevates the dialogue above the media noise and into the human. By exposing the true feelings of the people we don’t see, it legitimizes the questioning of policy even as it brings people together. But even more importantly, it makes understanding possible:

It forges connections where fewer existed before:

It inspires and involves those beyond the real-world reach of an issue:

This is the true meaning of community – people with a shared desire for connection, cohesiveness, and in this case – survival and understanding. Online, the power of community broadens and extends reach – illuminating where before there was darkness and murk.

Some have questioned the impact a social media group can have on real-world issues, but opening channels of dialogue is a start, and this dialogue has been covered by world press in a week-long frenzy. If anything, the motivation and momentum it generates makes talk easier, propaganda more difficult, and edges very divided people towards reconciliation.

Perhaps one of the most telling messages comes from an Iranian posting anonymously, showing that humanity can persist, reach out, and travel through the bonds of the web against the odds.

“They never let us to know each other. They afraid we became united and realize we got played and they cant control us any more … This is reunion of brothers and sisters who lost each other over time and finally find each other. B. Tehran – IRAN”

To learn more, check out the Facebook page: Israel loves Iran.

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