Facebook for Peace

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Can ordinary people be ambassadors, working for peace between countries? Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma look at movements for peace on social media.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Today, social media websites are a huge part of many people’s lives. The website Facebook is only 10 years old. Yet more than 1 billion people use it! Websites like Facebook help people connect with each other, even when they live far away from each other. Social media websites can spread information very quickly. And most importantly, they are not limited by national borders. Using social media, citizens from different countries can communicate with each other. They can share ideas, learn about each other and become friends – even when they are supposed to be enemies. Today’s Spotlight is on a social media movement that encourages friendship and peace between the citizens of two political enemies.

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Voice 2 

For many years, the countries of Israel and Iran have had difficult political relations. News of disagreement and hostile words between these enemies is no surprise. But in 2012, relations between Israel and Iran got especially tense. News media and political leaders were talking about nuclear war. But many ordinary citizens, on both sides, did not want war.

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Ronny Edry was one of these people. Edry is an Israeli citizen. And he wanted to communicate a different message. Edry is a graphic designer. He uses computers to design and create images. On March 14th, 2012, he created a picture with a message. In the picture, Edry was holding his young daughter. And his young daughter was holding the flag of Israel. The words on the picture said, “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We love you.” Edry put the picture on his Facebook website. The very next day, hundreds of people were talking about his picture on Facebook.

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Edry was surprised that even people from Iran were commenting on the picture. In a TED Talks speech, Edry explained,

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“In Israel, we do not talk with people from Iran. We do not know people from Iran. On Facebook you are only friends with your neighbours and friends.”

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Voice 1 

But in just one day, Edry was communicating on Facebook with people from Iran. He was talking with people who were supposed to be his enemies. One young woman from Iran told Edry that she asked her whole family to come to her house to look at his picture. She said that they all sat together looking at her computer. And they were all crying. Edry could not believe it. He was shocked and emotionally touched by this response to his picture.

Voice 2 

But Edry’s one picture was the beginning of something much bigger. Soon, hundreds of people began sending Edry pictures of themselves. They asked him to add the message from his image to their pictures. Edry received so many requests that he had to ask other graphic designers to help him. Israeli citizens from all over began posting pictures on Facebook with the same words: “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We love you.”

Voice 1 

But Israelis were not the only ones to join Edry. Iranians also began to post pictures of their own. Graphic designers from Iran made many pictures that said, “We love you too” and “My Israeli friends: I do not hate you. I do not want war.” Suddenly, thousands of Israeli and Iranian citizens were communicating messages of love and peace to one another. This new community created two Facebook websites – one called “Israel loves Iran” and another called “Iran loves Israel.” In his TED Talk, Edry said,

Voice 3 

“It is a story that goes two ways. It is Israelis and Iranians sending the same message one to the other. This has never happened before. These are two people who are supposed to be enemies, close to war, and suddenly, people on Facebook are saying, “I like this person. I love these people. It became very big.”

Voice 2 

The idea spread, and the movement for peace grew. In one week, 2 million people around the world visited the “Israel loves Iran” Facebook website. And people in other countries began creating their own Facebook websites in support. Edry talked with the Christian Science Monitor news organization about the purpose of the movement. He said,

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“We are surrounded with images all of the time. The idea we have of the other side is made of images … Most of the time it is going to be bad images. These are the images you get from the news, from television every day. So the idea is to create new images.”

Ronny Edry, via the Peace Factory
Voice 1 

But how much power do these new images have? Can they truly change things? It is easy to put an image on Facebook of someone holding a heart that says “I love Iran.” But does it have the same power as a news media image of world leaders signing a peace agreement? Edry believes his pictures do have great power. He believes that such pictures force people to see their enemies as human beings. And when this happens, it is much harder to want to kill them.

Voice 2 

It has been over two years since Edry put that first “Israel Loves Iran” picture on Facebook. Since that time, Israel and Iran have not signed any peace agreements. Nor have they made any major changes in their policies. But hundreds of thousands of their citizens are connecting with each other in new ways through social media. And millions of people from around the world have visited the Facebook sites – liking and commenting on pictures, putting up their own pictures, and sharing their messages of peace.

Voice 1 

One of the earliest messages written on the “Israel Loves Iran” Facebook page has been shared, liked and reposted again and again. It reads:

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“To all the fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters: For there to be a war between us, first we must be afraid of each other, we must hate. I am not afraid of you, I do not hate you.”

Via the Peace Factory
Voice 2 

And this has been the message of the movement ever since. In his TED Talk, Edry encouraged all people to be part of the solution against war. He said,

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“I know how the situation on the ground can look bad. For me, the courageous thing to do is to try to reach the other side before it is too late. Maybe by making an effort, we can avoid war. We can be our own ambassadors.”

Voice 1 

Do you think normal citizens can be ambassadors for peace? Can social media movements help avoid war? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on the script page of our website.

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Jennifer Hawkins. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Facebook For Peace.”

Voice 1 

We hope you join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

Do you think normal citizens can be ambassadors for peace? Can social media movements help avoid war?

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12 comments
  • I like this topic , first I want to say thank you for this podcasts and i support a peace messages and I wish all countries to be together

  • From: ssramossilva@gmail.com
    To: spotlight program
    Subject: to answer to the questions below
    Date: Wednesday 21, October 2020
    Location: São Paulo city – São Paulo Brazil South America

    Dear Liz Waid, Ryan Geertsma Jennifer Hawkins, and Michio Ozaki

    First, I want to thank you and to congratulate you for bringing us more one great article. Thank you very much
    Question 1 – Do you think normal citizens can be ambassadors for peace?
    Answer 1 – Yes, I do. One word of peace and love can change a bad situation to better.
    Question 2 – Can social media movements help avoid war?
    Answer 2 – Yes, It can. Facebook was created to connect people, to meat friends, to send messages to each other, and to send peace words to each other to change the World to better.
    God bless you
    Severino Ramos da Silva
    Brazil

  • Yes , become normal citizens by making social media to be peace ambassadors
    Other side become normal citizens influential in cutting international relational

  • WHERE IS YOUR HUMANITY!
    You support the Biggest Terrorist Organisation and call them a “country” and discuss their problems with peace!!
    They are in themselves are the enemies of peace. ASK PALESTINIAN HOW’S ERASE THIER PEACEFUL LIFE!
    Unfortunately, you are supposed to produce educative podcast Impartially, I was enjoyed listening to your podcasts I didn’t imagine that you would have a Political normalization trend. I hope everyone will be educated about the rights of people and their property and not take the Palestinian issue lightly because it can be repeated with any other community and the fear is that the seizure, displacement and (k..) will be legally supported in the future.

    • We are sorry you feel this way. We are not supporting a terrorist organization; we support peace. This program tells about people who are looking for peace. There are certainly many issues that are concerning in these countries. But the people in them also want peace.

      We DO NOT take the Palestinian issue lightly. Again, this program tells about people who are looking for peace.

  • That is right . I’m a woman from Iran . I hate war everywhere around the world . War between Iran and Irak made a lot of problem for us in Iran and also for Irak citizens . This war had bad effect on our life until now after 30 years end of the war .

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