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Middle East Activists Go Online to Try to Bridge Rifts

Middle East Activists Go Online to Try to Bridge Rifts
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Middle East Activists Go Online to Try to Bridge Rifts

As talks involving Iran and world powers continue in Vienna, diplomats are hopeful a deal will be struck before their new July 7 self-imposed deadline.

It's not just high-level diplomats, however, who are challenging the status quo in the Middle East. The online "We love you" movement is a grass-roots effort to end old grudges through mutual respect.

Facebook page "Israel Loves Iran" began in 2012 with a photograph of an Israeli graphic designer, his daughter, an Israeli flag and the message: “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We love you.”

Since then, ‘We love you’ online groups have popped up around the world among nations and groups that are usually considered enemies.

Attitudes are different at the highest level, however, with Iranian officials saying it is Israel, not Iran, that threatens security in the region, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying a deal struck in Vienna could lead to further violence in the region.

“It is still not too late to revert to insisting on the demands that would truly deny Iran the means to arm itself with nuclear weaponry and would prevent it getting a huge fortune with which to bankroll its aggression, its expansionism and the terrorist assault it is waging throughout the world," he said.

But analysts observing the talks say many Israelis disagree with their prime minister.

“There’s a non-negligible, sizable amount of people in Israel that are going to say, 'Good. We believe the world when they say Iran verifiably will not be able to build a nuclear weapon. We think that’s a good thing.' And I think those people in Israel should be given a voice,” said Reza Marashi of the National Iranian-American Council.

Online activists in Iran have built a corresponding page, "Iran Loves Israel." As their Israeli counterparts have tried to show, peace can go viral.