Israel and Iran are not exactly the best of friends. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that Israel should be "wiped off the map", while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made no secret of his dislike of the Islamic Republic's leaders.
Now the two countries could be headed to war, as Iran insists on building its nuclear capacity and Israel argues it should attack and destroy Iran's arsenal before it's too late.
But what about the people who actually live in both countries? They stand to lose the most from any conflict, but rarely get a chance to learn anything about one another. (It is impossible, for instance, to place a phone call between the two countries.)
Israeli peace activist (and graphic designer) Ronny Edry, frustrated that his country seems about to go to war with a group of people he knows nothing about, decided to see if he could use a social media platform to reach out to like-minded Iranians. He designed a simple poster with the caption "Iranians: We Will Never Bomb Your Country. We *Heart* You", and placed it over pictures of himself and his family. He then posted the images on his design school's Facebook page.
The result? "In a few hours, I had hundreds of shares and thousands of likes and it was like something was happening," Edry told CNN. Variations on Edry's poster began appearing on his page and elsewhere on the internet. Thanks to social media, the idea was eventually picked up in Iran as well, and soon images reciprocating the good will were crossing old enemy lines.
Now Edry has released a video, explaining his campaign and what he hopes it can achieve:
Can Facebook friends succeed where governments have not? Possibly, though this being Facebook, there have been plenty of negative comments on Edry's page to go with the positive sentiments. But at least it has given Iranians and Israelis a forum in which they can speak to one another directly. And as long as they're talking, they may be more reluctant to start bombing.
In other good news - and not to be too flip about the whole thing - at least one Persian cat has also expressed its affection for Israel:
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