Israeli and Iranian Pacifists Love Mana Neyestani's Cartoon


Cartoon by Mana Neyestani

On March 23rd, exiled Iranian cartoonist and CRNI 2011 Courage Award recipient, Mana Neyestani posted a cartoon on his Facebook page that was inspired, and quickly adopted, by a new and almost instantly popular online peace movement.  Created just five days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a “cancerous tumor” and just four days after the Israeli government issued a warning about Iran’s nuclear program, Mana’s cartoon – simply titled No War! – has struck a chord with thousands of Israelis and Iranians seeking a peaceful resolution to the rising tensions.  No War! has gone viral, generating more than 7,000 hits.  


Israel Loves Iran Facebook poster featuring Ronny Edry and his daughter Ella. 

The inspiration for Mana’s popular cartoon is the hugely popular Israel Loves Iran Facebook campaign.  That campaign began on March 16 when Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry and his wife Michal Tamir created a Facebook page and the israellovesiran blog calling for peace and understanding between Israel and Iran.  The first image they uploaded is a poster created in collaboration with students from Pushpin Mehina, a preparatory graphic design school.  The poster announces, “Iranians, we will never bomb your country.  We [heart] you.”  In the blog, Mr. Edry, a father and former soldier, wrote, “I’m not afraid of you.  I don’t hate you.  I don’t even know you. … I see sometime here, on the TV, an Iranian.  He is talking about war.  I’m sure he does not represent all the people of Iran.  If you see someone on your TV talking about bombing you … be sure he does not represent all of us.”  Since the launch of Israel Loves Iran, the page has been inundated with supportive messages from around the world and has inspired the creation of many similar sites including of course Iran Loves Israel.  Below is a video from Israel Loves Iran.  


In an interview with CRNI, Mana said he is happy that Israel Loves Iran has incorporated his work even if he doesn’t know which of his followers added his work to the online peace movement.  He said, “Even though we can’t solve the longtime political problems and complexities just with a simple cartoon or by sending love and peace letters, I believe these little steps could be a good start for making a reasonable, and critical, conversation.”  According to Mana, such a conversation is preferable to “the hostility which has been reinforced by both governments during the last three decades.”  If nothing else, “it helps separate the views of the vast majority of people in both countries from the extremists.”

Today Mana is a popular freelance cartoonist whose work is featured on the Mardomak and the Radiozamaneh websites.  But Mana and his wife have endured much.  Click on Middle East/North Africa of the Art To Die For section of our website, to learn about their long ordeal.