Israelis Say ‘No’ to Iran War

Caption: 'The nation is against war with Iran'

Israelis have begun intensive social networking efforts to promote the notion that their country does not want war with Iran. There will be a mass rally on Friday, March 24th at 7PM in HaBima Square in Tel Aviv. There is also a Facebook event page, Israelis Against War with Iran. It has 764 Going currently. I wish it had more, much more. There is a Facebook group, Israelis Against the War, with 2,800 Likes. This is the statement that accompanies it:

It appears that as far as PM Netanyahu is concerned, everything’s prepared for an attack on Iran. Except for us – we’re neither prepared nor willing.

We will not agree to an irresponsible Israeli attack in Iran, leading to a war with an unknown end-date and casualty count. Polls show most of the Israeli public opposes the attack being planned by Netanyahu. Even the leading brass of the Israeli security establishment, past and present, opposes such an attack. U.S. intelligence agencies assert that Iran is not on the path attributed to it by Netanyahu (an assertion supported by the Mossad). Netanyahu, however, possibly fearing another “social summer”, appears eager to launch a war which might even give a boost to his election campaign.

Hardly anyone was surprised this week by the reports that Israel is not equipped to protect its citizens from missiles targeted at the cities. It is also not surprising that those least protected are the weaker populations of the Israeli periphery. This is exactly how much our leaders value us, when they don’t hesitate to take us on an unnecessary war that will inflame the region, supposedly for our protection. Not to worry – they’ll be safe and sound in their bunkers. The billions that this war will cost will be paid by us – in health, education, housing – and in blood.

But this week, we saw something amazing. The internet allowed us to convey messages to citizens on the other side and receive messages back from them. Messages of peace, solidarity and hope.

This exciting and refreshing dialogue leads to one clear conclusion:

We, the citizens of Israel and Iran, are not enemies. Our leaders are inciting a disastrous war – and we’re all trying to prevent it. Instead of being dragged into a regional war – we demand a solution of peace among all the region’s peoples.

This coming Saturday, March 24th, we will meet at 19:00 (7 PM) at HaBima Square in Tel Aviv – where the summer’s protests began – and march from there to Gan Meir. Together we will spell out for Netanyahu and the world: You have no mandate to take us to war with Iran.

Feel free to prepare signs such as:

“Iranians we love you”
“The people oppose war in Iran” or any other idea you might have.

There is also a blog, Israel Loves Iran, created by Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry, which appears to be getting so much traffic it’s serving pages quite slowly. But that’s a good thing. It goes without saying the initiative has been covered by Haaretz. But it’s even reached CNN, another good sign. I hope you’ll do your part to help trend #israelovesiran on Twitter and promote it on any other social media platforms you frequent. We’ve got to stop this damn war. If the Occupy movement and Israel’s J14 Social Justice movement could move mountains, can’t we stop the F-16s?

There is one Israeli message to Iran I do not endorse. Thamar Gindin, an Israeli-Iranian who is making a powerful effort to promote peace between the two peoples, is featuring this message written by settler Rabbi Avraham Gisser of Ofra (considered a moderate figure in his community), who commends the Iranian people on Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. Here are excerpts from his statement. Reading it carefully will elicit the prejudices inherent in it:

Religious wholeness and pure belief are the lot of the free only. Enslavement and coercion are the opposite of the human spirit, and what are religious belief and observing the commandments worth if the human spirit is oppressed and humiliated?

The Jewish people are not the enemy of the honorable Iranian nation. The Iranian nation has a glorious tradition of respect for human values and struggle for freedom and equality. The common mission of the two nations is to continue striving for equality, peace, and respect for every person – man and woman, young and old. Women’s freedom is their honor. A woman’s freedom is the distinct sign of a society that chooses life and joy in life. The common enemy of both nations is any government or movement that enslaves the human spirit and humiliates the women, the weak and the different in the name of religion or in the name of any other fake ideology.

It’s more than obvious that Gisser seeks, like most pro-Israel figures trying to demonize Iran even unintentionally, to differentiate between the Iranian people and its government. The people are good. The Ayatollahs are bad. They are the “enslavers” and represent a “fake ideology.” Note there is absolutely no criticism offered of Israeli leaders or government. I ask you? Is this the sort of “conciliatory” message we need in the current environment? Compare this statement to the one from Ayatollah Boroujerdi, which Tamar publicized last Rosh HaShana, which was a truly loving, non-judgmental and inspirational one.