Abigail Klein Leichman
September 6, 2023

Grassroots pro-Israel female activists have launched a social media campaign, dubbed #IsraelisLoveIranians, to show support for Iranian protesters marking the one-year anniversary of the killing of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian Mahsa Amini.

Amini’s death at the hands of Iran’s infamous morality police kicked off continuous human-rights protests across Iran that have continued sporadically for a year.

The campaign will enjoy the participation of dozens of Israeli organizations and public figures throughout the month of September.

Among those participating: Olympic judoka Sagi Muki; MMA fighter Natan Levy; models Orin Julie and Nataly Dadon; actress Swell Ariel Or of The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem; Fauda co-creator Avi Issacharoff, Arab Israeli social activist Yoseph Haddad, businesswoman Ashley Waxman Bakshi, and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan.

Among organizations taking part are the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA), StandWithUs, Combat Antisemitism Movement, WIZO, the Tel Aviv Institute, the 49% and Arab Israeli organization Together Vouch for Each Other.

On September 16, the global community is holding solidarity events across the world to demand regime change in Iran and support the rights of protesters, hundreds of which have been arrested, tortured and executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In Israel, a solidarity event will be held in Holon on September 7 because September 16 coincides with the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana).

“As the global day of solidarity for the Iranian people is on Rosh Hashana, it was important for us to have a strong showing of support for the people of Iran directly from the people of Israel,” said campaign cofounder Emily Schrader, an American Israeli journalist and activist.

“Iranians are not our enemies, rather our allies in the fight against their own government, which spreads violence and terror everywhere. As Israelis we proudly stand with the people of Iran.”

Other #IsraelisLoveIranians activities planned in Israel throughout September in Israel include mural unveilings in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa on September 12, 13, and 14, respectively.

Israeli social-media campaign supports Iranian protesters
Graphic courtesy of Emily Schrader

This is not the first time Israelis have taken to social media to reach out to the people of Iran, a country that has a hostile relationship with Israel.

In 2012, Tel Aviv father and teacher Ronny Edry spearheaded what would become the viral “Israel Loves Iran” campaign with a Facebook message that read:

“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’m not afraid of you, I don’t hate you.

I don’t even know you.

“I’m not an official representative of my country. I’m a father and a teacher. I know the streets of my town, I talk with my neighbors, my family, my students, my friends and in the name of all these people … we love you.

We mean you no harm.

On the contrary, we want to meet, have some coffee and talk about sports.”

He received thousands of responses from more than a dozen countries, including a message from Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Alice Walker, who called Israel Loves Iran a “wonderful website.”

And just last week at the Venice Film Festival on September 2, a movie covertly co-directed by Israeli and Iranian filmmakers in Georgia debuted.

“Tatami,” co-produced by Guy Nattiv of “Golda” fame, is about an Iranian female judoka and her female coach who face a dilemma at the Judo World Championship: Will they abide by their government’s insistence on faking an injury to avoid facing an Israeli competitor, or defy the order and try to go for a gold medal?

The screenplay was inspired by a true incident four years ago in which Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei was ordered to throw matches to avoid competing against Muki at the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo. Mollaei later fled to Europe and became friends with Muki, whom he bested last year at the Budapest Grand Slam. The two hugged after the match in a show of solidarity.

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