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Building A Bridge Between Enemies

Israeli graphic designers Ronnie Edri and Michal Tamir have gotten tired of the anti-Iranian rhetoric in their country, and the anti-Israel rhetoric in Iran. So, on Saturday, they decided to do a little reaching out on their own. They created a series of posters and put them on Facebook. The common theme of all the posters is “I (heart) Iranians.”

The last thing they expected was that their posters would attract equal posters from Iranians. It’s turning into an old-fashioned love-in on the internet.

Edri wrote on his Facebook post that “I’m not an official representative of my country. We love you. We mean you no harm. On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports.” One of the responses said “We love you Israeli people! The Iranian people do not like war with any country.”

That pretty much sums up the majority of people in many countries. How many people really truly want a war against anyone? Wouldn’t all rather sit down over a coffee or a beer and talk about those things that span cultures, like sports, art, music? I would love to compare the American version of a historical event with the version from the other side, sort of continue a conversation my father started 67 years ago in Manila.

But ordinary people rarely have the chance to decide for peace and cross-cultural education. The decision to go to war is not one made by consulting ordinary citizens, is it? It is a decision made in our name without our input. It is terrifying to read the opinion of Islam and its practitioners held by too many Americans.

What Edri and Tamir did took courage. For all they knew, they were just sending these messages into the ether, to get lost among the billions of messages and kilotons of garbage on social networking. Instead, they found others like themselves, others who believe in peaceful congress between ordinary human beings.

It is moments like this that renew my faith in humanity. We really are better than those who lead our nations. We believe in the power of the individual to touch another individual.

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