Tahrir is packed (R) 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
As the world watches the Arab world, one gets the sense that we are again
witnessing events which will change history. Everyone knows this is a very
dangerous scenario for Israel. Here we are, the only democracy in the Middle
East, hated by most of the Arab countries and watching from the sidelines, in
fear of what might be.
One thing everyone seems to agree on is that
there’s still a long way to go until the region stabilizes.
plenty of anger in Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and Jordan. Despite the dozens of
articles penned by “experts,” no one knows when or how these uprisings will end.
Even in the nations where there have been initial “victories” – Tunisia and
Egypt – no real change has come, at least for the citizens. There are now
renewed demands by protesters in both countries, and the armies in control are
reluctant to give in.
Right now, all eyes are on Libya. Anyone with a
grasp of history knows that, for decades, Muammar Gaddafi was playing the role
Iran is playing now – by calling for Israel to disappear, supporting terrorism,
engineering attacks, manipulating his neighbors and wishing for weapons of mass
He became a favorite of the West after he caved and
renounced those aspirations. He was rewarded with a mass influx of foreign
investment. Watching Gaddafi’s bloody reaction to his uprising, one can only
conclude that the Cold War strategy of leaving dictators alone as long as they
don’t bother the West must end.
Make no mistake; this wave of protest is
enabled by communication technology – Internet, clandestine websites, message
boards, Facebook and cellphones. Gone are the days when the message is
completely controlled by the governing party.
When information is bounced
off a satellite, it’s impossible to regulate.
WHAT MAKES matters even
more complex is the fact that the same technology used to organize the revolts
and get pictures out to the world is what keeps many businesses running. As so
much of global trade is done in cyberspace, shutting down the Internet means
freezing commerce, and that’s something few nations, even dictatorships, can
The channels are open and many in the Arab world are watching for
messages, but the questions are complicated – what kind of messages should be
delivered, and who will be delivering them? For this, we should not be expecting
governments to provide answers. Conventional diplomatic efforts are not what’s
needed in these web revolutions.
They’re fine for the official policies,
but the process is too long and drawn out, not to mention the fact that the
dissidents might have a hard time believing what other leaders say on the
Now is the time for all the nonprofit organizations to rise to
the challenge and support democratic change in the Middle East, especially in
the harshest totalitarian regimes like Iran and Libya.
If you are an
activist for democracy, you should be throwing your support behind the
aspirations of the people who want freedom of speech, freedom of religion,
women’s rights, gay rights, children’s rights and human rights. We know that the
record in the Arab world on all these is abominable. That suppression is now
leading news broadcasts around the world, and topping the public agenda for the
first time in history.
You want change? Now’s the time to show it, and
the Internet is the way to reach people. Show the protesters that there is hope
they can “live like a human being,” as one Libyan dissident put it after facing
fire from Gaddafi’s assassins.
THERE’S ANOTHER aspect as well. It’s no
news to anyone that one of the problems facing Israel is the fact that more and
more groups from across the spectrum are successfully convincing people in the
West that it is politically correct to condemn the Jewish state. They use lies
to paint our country as an evil apartheid regime which constantly violates human
rights. Many even call us an illegal state, with no right to exist. There have
already been thousands of articles written exposing these fabrications, but now
more than ever is the time to show the comparisons between Israel and the Arab
When raising the issue of countries which are despotic and
illegal, you just have to look at some of the nations where uprisings are taking
place. Libya and Syria are two excellent examples of countries which were
arbitrarily carved up by the British and French after World War I. They are run
by brutal dictators who haven’t thought twice about quashing any semblance of
If the same organizations don’t come out and support the
Arab revolts with the same vigor they condemn Israel, they will have been proven
to be hypocritical and morally bankrupt.The writer is an independent
media consultant, an adjunct lecturer at IDC Herzliya’s School of Communications
and a former producer at the Fox News Channel in New York.