Internet-meme campaign is redefining Iranian-Jewish dialogue. I was inspired to write by reading Mira’s Sucharov column in Haaretz of today ‘ The Fifth Question’ that highlights how Internet-meme campaign is bringing forth the unity of purpose in securing peace on ‘people to people level.’ Common citizens through internet are bypassing state policies of ‘disgust and war mongering’ and connecting directly to express love for each other.
Connectivity is bypassing confrontational, argumentative and possibly fatal policy of the intransigent leadership of Iran and in a way of Israel, who is ever-enthusiastically playing in hands of ideological bigots. Ronny Edry, an Israeli graphic designer has shaped a slogan badge that could be attached to a personal photo. It says very expressively that “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We ‘Love’ you.”
‘People to people’ contact is restyling and rewriting the dirty precedent of Machiavellian Middle Eastern politics of the past. ‘People to people’ internet based connectivity is helping common man to cross prevalent opinionated bondages to ‘love’ who we’re told to hate. Ronny Edry’s Face book page “Israel-loves-Iran” campaign, launched last March, is now getting two million views per week. Ronny Edry got concerned with heightened ‘war of words’ as he witnessed Netanyahu and Barak long-windedness to escalate Israeli proclivity of a war with Iran. He posted a YouTube and explained, “For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of one another. We must hate. I’m not afraid of you. I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you.”
Iranian badges were fashioned in a rejoinder, and the movement has since developed into a unadulterated viral campaign. Such grass root level cyber contacts do not help change the ‘landscape’ of hardcore entrenched hatreds but help to bring people to people contact closer and break the ice that is very important. Peace is all about building the notion of love in hearts souls and minds of people. I think it is sad to see that we don’t teach enough ‘history of nations’ to each other’s children, we don’t know much about each other, we should know each other well, we are bound with thousands of years of love and benevolence, this connection has a resonance of history and genes in it. The children of ‘cradle of civilisations’ should be taught their past very well. This will avoid them falling in the traps set by ideological demagogues.
Perhaps, it may be in all probability immature and adolescent thinking, ordinary Israelis cannot pledge to ordinary Iranians that their government won’t engage in a destructive war and launch a preventive strike to stop Iran from becoming a nuke state. This can turn out to be rather counterproductive as it can be easily described as a ‘trick of never to be trusted Jews’ by some conspiracy theorists, but there is no doubt that sincerity of purpose on both sides is obvious.
This is ‘citizen diplomacy’ at its best, without frontiers and without tone of diplomatic formality that slay the fortitude of any communiqué between nations. This is a small example of how people are reaching out to ‘You Tube’ and ‘Face Book’ and connecting beyond the established track of professional anchorman. This is breaking the existing norms of human dialogue and taking them to a new level, living room to living room connectivity will bring eventual peace on this earth, this is just a start. A loose structure of ‘global consciousness’ is emerging, this is how 9 billion of us will connect in not a to distant a future.
The message across to the governments is potent, the blinkered leaderships of the two sides should appreciate ‘cross-border person-to-person interaction’ beyond the venom of the loud-mouthed actors of the state. Look at the recent reprehensible Ahmadinejad statement ‘Tumour’ of Israel will soon be destroyed. How can one can argue as to the legitimacy and need of such a drivel; what was the point in this recent statement. Why should a nation on a brink of a possible preventive strike pour some more oil on the fire? Even increasingly tranquillized officials of EU believe that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad statement on Iran’s stance toward Israel is “outrageous” and “hateful.” Ever undemonstrative and calm UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israeli statements.
Words to exterminate obliterate each other are not in short supply in this war between Iran and Israel obstructed with seriously ‘suspect roots of history.’ How does present day Iranians with Aryan/Zoroaster’s roots become part of a dispute of a chronological discrimination that is 2500 old and has its roots in forced exodus of Moses to the promised land by Pharaohs? Historical distortions leading to hate need some reprieve and reinterpretations to save its mutilation from the hands of bigots and warmongers. An occurrence that includes Ramses and Banu Israel should not bring the ‘Fars’ in. This dispute is beyond intellectual capacity, the history suggests if not anything else that ‘Jewish permanence’ in the promised land was ensured by Cyrus the great. For some time, I have been thinking of stressing on highlighting some elapsed paragraphs of forgotten history to emphasize that how close Israelites and Iranians are, they should be bound with each other with love than hatred. I see no reason for any hate or nuke exchange, the ‘cousins’ descendents of ‘Isaac and Ishmael’ should decide to live in peace. I wish Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad may read this passage to enlarge their myopic vision of the times gone by.
In 586 BCE King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon conquered Judah. The Babylonian subjugation entailed not just the obliteration of Jerusalem and its Temple, but the destruction of the absolute infrastructure which had helped Judah for centuries. The most important victim was the State philosophy of “Zion theology,” the thought that Yahweh, God of Israel, had chosen Jerusalem for his dwelling-place and that the Davidic dynasty would reign there forever. The deportation and exile of the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah to Babylon and the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple followed.
It was not until 538 BCE, only after Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon and took over its empire, that Cyrus the great issued a proclamation granting subjugated nations their freedom. Jewish exiles in Babylon, including 50,000 Judeans, led by Zerubabel returned to Judah to rebuild the temple, a task which they are said to have completed c. 515. Judah remained a province of the Persian empire until 332 BCE. According to the biblical history, A second group of 5,000, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, returned to Judah in 456 BCE although non-Jews wrote to Cyrus to try to prevent their return. Yet it was almost certainly only in the middle of the next century, at the earliest, that Jerusalem again became the capital of Judah. The Persians may have tried out originally with ruling Judah as a Dividic client-kingdom under ancestors of Jehoiachin, but by the mid–5th century BCE Judah had become in practice a theocracy, ruled by hereditary High Priests and a Persian-appointed governor, frequently Jewish, charged with keeping order and seeing that tribute was paid.
Israelites should love Iranians, they have a long history of co-existence and help. I can relate here history of banu- Israel for last 1450 years and can vouch that Jews had their best deals from Omar bin Khattab, Salahuddin Ayubi, Selim 2, Salman the Magnificent. There is no reason for this hatred amongst people, Holocaust was not conducted by Middle Easterners and neither any of these nations were crusaders. The people of the two faith should go beyond the bigotry of their present religious and political leaderships and connect.
The only era of peace Israelites have seen has been either under the Persians or much later after 638 CE, when the Byzantine Empire lost the Levant to the Arab Islamic Empire. In 332 BCE the Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great. After his death in 322 BCE, his generals divided the territory between them and Judea became the border between the Seleucid Empire and Ptolemaic Egypt, but in 198 Judea was included into the Seleucid Kingdom. In 64 BCE the Roman general Pompey occupied Judea and Jerusalem and made the Jewish kingdom a client of Rome. In 131, Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina and constructed a Temple of Jupiter on the site of the former Jewish temple. Jews were banned from Jerusalem and Iudaea Province was renamed Palaestina, from which derived “Palestine” in English and “Filistin” in Arabic.
Continued persecution and the economic crisis that affected the Roman empire in the 3rd-century led to further Jewish migration from Palestine to the more tolerant Persian Sassanid Empire, where a prosperous Jewish community existed in the area of Babylon. Early in the 4th century, Roman Empire split and Constantinople became the capital of the East Roman Empire known as the Byzantine Empire. Under the Byzantines, Christianity, dominated by the (Greek) Orthodox Church, was adopted as the official religion. Jerusalem became a Christian city and Jews were still banned from living there.
After 638 CE, the Byzantine Empire lost the Levant to the Arab Islamic Empire. Omar allowed and encouraged Jews to settle in Jerusalem. It was first time, after almost 500 years of oppressive Christian rule, that Jews were allowed to cross the threshold and worship liberally in their holy city. Until the Crusades took Palestine in 1099, various Muslim dynasties controlled Palestine. It was first ruled by the Medinah-based Rashidun Caliphs, then by the Damascus-based Umayyad Caliphate and after by the Baghdad-based Abbasid Caliphs.
According to Gilbert, from 1099 to 1291 the Christian Crusaders “mercilessly persecuted and slaughtered the Jews of Palestine.” Assistance came in 1187 when Ayyubid Sultan Saladin overwhelmed the Crusaders in the Battle of Hattin, taking Jerusalem and most of Palestine. In time, Saladin issued a decree appealing all Jews to return and settle in Jerusalem, and according to Judah al-Harizi, they did: “From the day the Arabs took Jerusalem, the Israelites inhabited it.” al-Harizi compared Saladins decree allowing Jews to reinstate themselves in Jerusalem to the one issued by the Persian Cyrus the Great over 1,600 years earlier.
After Mamluks and Fatimids, Palestine was conquered by Turkish Sultan Selim II in 1516–17, and became part of the province of Syria for the next four centuries. In around 1563, Joseph Nasi secured permission from Sultan Selim II to acquire Tiberias and seven surrounding villages to create a Jewish city-state. In around 1560, Suleiman the Magnificent gave official recognition of the right of Jews to pray there.
Why should Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad speak something that even the greatest ‘warriors of Islam’ did not want. Why this hate, where does it originates from, the Artabised version of Shiite mentality should not warrant destruction of a ‘nation’ that has its own cultural inclinations and bearings for 5000 years old. To speak and predict the ultimate demise of the “Zionist state” is utter non sense and invitation to self annihilation. Most of these oft repeated statements are fundamentally a reiteration of statements made in the past by the leader of Iran’s revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini. In its destructive capability with its undeclared Nuclear assets, Israel is million time more in position to exterminate than Iran ever shall be in near future, why to invite the wrath of a nuclear war in the region by these silly statements. Whose idea is this and what purpose do they serve?
Not short of words these statements from Vilayat-e-Fikah and their mouthpiece are adequately countered by Israeli officials with corresponding ferociousness, a June 7, 2008, remark by Israel’s Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer: “If you so much as dream of attacking Israel, before you even finish dreaming there won’t be an Iran anymore.”
Lets love, in its uncontaminated sincerity, Edry’s campaign forces turns the attitude towards love and hate on its head, he poses a question to the conscience of everyone how about changing the goal post instead of hating out enemies lets love them. The movement went further ahead and added new memes: “Ready for Peace,” says one. “Not Ready to Die in Your War,” says another. The confusing factor as to it who is the “you” in “your war”? Edry explained to Mira, when Israelis post their photos with the phrase “Not Ready to Die in Your War,” it’s a clear case of domestic dissent government directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in case of Iranians posting it, it is directed at their government. People should take part in the movement because they sense destruction from the outfall of this looming war, and they should, because if that war happens, it is going to be very dreadful for the region.