Today I was sitting in my local Cafe in Tel Aviv when I suddenly had the urge to cry. My eyes started to well up. “You are a grown man for God’s sake, get a hold of yourself”, I told myself.
I am glad to say that I succeeded to control myself. A few tears rolled down my eyes but they were not enough to attract the attention of those sitting near me. Thank God for that.
Those few tears that managed to escape my eyes were tears of absolute, unadulterated and indescribable joy. What caused them was the fact that for the first time I saw a Tel Aviv Bus carrying the “Israel Loves Iran” messages from Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir’s Israel Loves Iran campaign.
In reality I shouldn’t have been so emotional, because of something that happened 5 days before.
We had just finished my lunch at our local Mexican restaurant. My wife and I still were laughing at the visual instructions in Hebrew on each table for Israelis who were having Mexican food for the first time. These included “don’t dip your Tortilla into your Salsa, it’s not Humus”, or “don’t break your Tortilla, it’s not a Pita”. My favorite was “don’t put too much food on your Tortilla, you can’t roll it, it’s not a Laffa bread“.
As soon as we stepped out of the restaurant, I suddenly saw a face I recognized. It was Ronny Edry himself, having lunch with his family. I introduced myself to him, told him what I do for a living and before he had a chance to say much I had to start telling him what I think of him. I just couldn’t hold back. Oh come on, try living in Israel for 8 years without picking up at least some of the local customs!
“Your work is amazing. I love what you are doing. Our politicians must come and sit at your feet to learn from you. They know nothing about Iran and how to speak with the people of Iran. I am so proud of you. In 33 years after the revolution no one has told the people of Iran that they love them. Not their government, not America, not the UK. We in Israel are the first ones in the world and its because of you. I am so proud of you. Look I am so excited that the hair on my arms is standing up.”
Ronny who was being followed by a camera crew was very gracious. We took some photos. We were also filmed. He told me about the campaign on the Tel Aviv buses, but strangely enough, I did not feel much emotion.
But its something else when you see it in all its glory. There it is, a big bus standing behind the traffic light in your city, with big signs saying “Israel Loves Iran”, and pictures of Israelis and Iranians arms in arm.
For many Iranian – Israelis like me, this is a dream come true. I mean literally.
What I also found particularly moving about the “Israel Loves Iran” bus advertising campaign was that the message was being carried on a Tel Aviv bus. We should not forget that in the 90s, the Iranian regime paid Hamas to blow up tens of such buses in Tel Aviv full of innocent bystanders. Now we have Israelis who are going out of their way to use the same buses to tell the people of Iran that we love you. You are our brothers and sisters. We don’t have a problem with you. They are separating the people from a leadership which does not represent them.
Not only this shows humanity and intelligence, what I also love about the “Israel Loves Iran” campaign is that its poison for extremists in the Iranian regime. They would hate for the people of Iran and Israel to be friends. What they want us to believe is that the people of Iran support their hate against the people of Israel. This is why I would like to nominate Ronny Edry and Michal Tamir for a Nobel Peace prize. In the middle of all the talk of war, red lines and deadlines they have given us a ray of hope and shown the way towards a future we would all dream of and want to have. If you feel the same, you can sign the petition here
And Mr Netanyahu, give Ronny and Michal a call. You could learn a thing or two from them.
Why? I remember you saying in your 2012 AIPAC speech:
“I want you to think about what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in the hands of those who lead millions of radicals who chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”
This statement shows that you know very little about the people of Iran. What you said was music to Khamenei’s ears as he would love to believe that millions support his calls against Israel. In Iran, only a tiny minority think like him. It’s unfortunate that the Prime Minister of Israel thinks that their number reach millions and worst, that Khamenei regime is genuinely popular in its calls against Israel.