Israelis Love-Bomb Iran—Iranians Respond in Kind

More
LoveBomb.JPG

Some Israeli peaceniks, frustrated by their prime minister's tone toward Iran, have taken matters into their own hands. Harnessing the peer-to-peer potential of Facebook, they've assured Iranians that they're lovers, not fighters. They've posted the message you see above and encouraged fellow Israelis to take the same message, personalize it with a photo, and spread it further. Some have complied, and some Iranians have responded in kind.

What's not to like?

Actually, I do have one complaint: Mightn't the "We will never bomb your country" note ring a bit false, coming from people who don't control Israel's air force? Still, my basic reaction to this is the same as my reaction to the Kony2012 campaign: I'll leave it for other people to do the critiquing; what I want to emphasize is that, whatever the fate of this particular project, the potential for online activism that it illustrates is worth pondering.

So let's ponder.

First, we shouldn't be naïve. This won't be a simple matter of belligerent politicians in both countries being pushed aside by tender-hearted masses whose will had previously been thwarted. Among the reasons these politicians talk belligerently is that there is a non-trivial constituency for that kind of talk in both countries.

But why is there such a constituency? This is the question that I think points to some interesting possibilities. The constituency for belligerence is diverse, and certainly includes some people possessed by nearly ineradicable hatred. Still, it also includes people of more fluid sentiment, people whose belligerence rests on such things as:

1) Fear of the other country, a fear that might be partly assuaged by seeing citizens of that country who reject war.

2) Demonization of people in the other country, which might be lessened be seeing a few non-demonic specimens.

3) An implicit dehumanization of people in the other country--an indifference to their fate that comes from not giving much thought to their actual existence.

As a rule, I suspect that overcoming these obstacles to peace will take more than nice little billboards on Facebook. The supplementary use of video could lend credibility to the love-bombing and could do much to de-demonize and even humanize an alien citizenry. And even that won't address the biggest challenge: getting the message beyond the most naturally receptive audience (that is, the people who barely need the message in the first place), and reaching people whose minds are more in need of changing.

But the night is young. In the evolution of online love-bombing, we are still in primordial times. I look forward to seeing new species develop.

Meanwhile let's close with some heartening love bombs from both the Israeli and Iranian side of the fence. These images are taken from the Israeli website 972, and I encourage you to go to 972's article on the subject and scroll down for a larger sampling.

[Update, 3/19, 12:30 a.m.: I see that Andrew Sullivan posted on this a few hours before I did.]

[Further update, 3/19 8:46 p.m.: Check out the video in Ron Kampeas's post on this subject over at JTA.]

IsraelLove2.JPG

Esther.JPG

IranLove2.JPG

Jump to comments
Presented by

Robert Wright is the author of The Evolution of God and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Global

Just In