For a change, I want to write something optimistic. Time, we know, is not necessarily working in our favor, as we like to grouse on Friday evenings sitting around with the salted seeds and nuts, the salads and the vodka.
Unlike the way it used to be in the same format, there will always be someone who will (once again) say intelligence did not foresee the revolution in Egypt. And as opposed to him, there will equally always be someone who will say intelligence had predicted it long ago. There will be an argument as to how reliable television Middle East affairs commentator Ehud Ya’ari is. Never mind Labor MK Benjamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer, who was interviewed on all the channels about his “telephone conversation” with Hosni Mubarak, who according to media reports was half unconscious and not in any condition to take calls.
There are those who are wondering whether the Egyptian army, which has taken upon itself the task of restoring order, isn’t in fact carrying out a sophisticated military coup on the grounds that the constitution has not been changed; and they are wondering how in this case Egypt will behave toward Israel and what the meaning is of the chain of riots in Muslim countries in the region.
The real revolution is in the awakening of the cybernetic power − Facebook, Twitter and Google − which together constitute a tool for anyone who has a finger to strike keys with and thereby to change the world order. This is the power that is threatening the fate of regimes the public does or does not want to honor. The Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was the last to discover that tyrants like himself no longer have balconies to deliver speeches from. The cruel leaders of microphones and balconies, who rule by casting fear into the hearts of their nations, were the first victims of the technological tsunami, in the wake of which nothing is the province of single tyrants.
In the more totalitarian countries the fear of revenge by the rulers is decreasing. A keystroke on a computer is liable to topple them one after another, as in a game of dominoes.
The intelligence organizations are no longer the only information source. None of them predicted the uprising in Tunisia and Egypt and the continuation in Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain and Iran.
Every Iranian watched on the Internet the shocking scene when the Revolutionary Guard murdered a woman in cold blood and the suppression of the uprising that cried out for freedom. But the day will come for the ayatollahs. Not from without but from home. This is written on the wall, on the computer mostly.
The most significant cybernetic revolution worked to the benefit of United States President Barack Obama. He won the election in a big way thanks to information he took in from Facebook and Twitter − which circumvent the usual political pipelines. Half a million Americans who filled the plaza where Obama was sworn in prove who really brought him to power.
Many are wondering if the Egyptian army, which has cleverly positioned itself as the restorer of order until such time as a democratic regime is established, will be tempted into becoming the nucleus of a continuing military putsch. If behind some respectable general like Muhammad Naguib of yore, some sort of new Gamal Abdel Nasser might pop up.
The danger exists, but in my assessment it will not happen.
The Facebook power will not allow this.
MK Nachman Shai (Kadima), who has returned from a quick lecture tour in London, says Israel is one of the more computerized countries in the world − at least 10 million varied access points in the cybernetic kingdom. With a single keystroke a citizen might energize the government to deal less with itself and more with the country.
It is not gladdening to hear the defense minister, who in the current public opinion polls does not win enough votes to get any legislators at all into the next Knesset, declare on his visits to the north with the new chief of staff that in the future soldiers will be called upon to go into Lebanon again. “In Hezbollah they remember the knocks on the head they got in 2006.” Is this bellicose hint getting passed along on Facebook without any recollection in its database of the knocks we got?
Time is not working in our favor. The moment will come when the public will begin to understand that its government is not governing, but rather fighting for its very existence.
And the moment the country digests that without permanent borders it is not sustainable, the time will come to talk to its computer.
Indeed, we are commanded not to rely on miracles, but it is permissible to hope that possibly the Iranian nightmare will be dispelled not by the Air Force’s F-15 and not by the American Tomahawk but rather by Facebook, Twitter and Google.
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