assange - Reuters - November 30 2010
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, July 26, 2010. Photo by Reuters
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It seems the next trend for delivering diplomatic mail will be carrier pigeons gripping letters sealed with beeswax in locked pouches. The WikiLeaks affair marks an enormous step backward, making nostalgia bigger than it used to be.

Whatever happened to the days when we wouldn't leave the house waiting for a phone call we knew would come as long as we didn't wait at home? Where are the days before the answering machine, when it was impossible to listen to incriminating messages left for a significant other? What happened to the post-James Bond period, before the Nimrodi affair over a decade ago, when to eavesdrop you had to plant a microphone inside a phone at great risk? And what happened to the days when people were deterred by an envelope's "Do not open" message, and when reading somebody else's letters or diary entries was considered an ethical violation?

Many well-intentioned souls, including yours truly, have never believed that this rule applies to love letters to a romantic companion from his former flames, certainly not letters sent by current flames on the side. All women realize that reading mail intended for the suspect, I mean, partner, is the second-most important step to ensure a relationship's survival - the first being an overhaul of the recipient's wardrobe, haircut and glasses.

Today, however, it's much easier. All you need to do is break into his e-mail account (and discover that your name isn't his password - what nerve! ), or to guess his secret voicemail code (it's best to first try his birthday or that of his children, or, in extreme cases, the date one of his girlfriends died ).

You can read through his mail without risking a face-to-face encounter. From a sterile distance, you can find out what it was he forgot to tell you. Or, in the worst-case scenario, you can discover that he's an inept writer who makes plenty of typing mistakes.

Why is everybody angry with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks? Aside from the sudden accusations of rape (which I'm not sure I'm ready to believe even after the accuser appears in public ), Assange has made journalists' fantasy come true. It seems there are fantasies that need to remain as such, including the fantasy of diplomatic and foreign news reporters who yearn to cease relying on all sorts of Deep Throats by telephone and enjoy the unfettered leaking of classified materials. None of these journalists, however, wanted to be bombarded by hundreds and thousands of such documents every day.

The people, on the other hand, have had their appetite sated. What have we learned in the meantime? We learned what we already knew, like the fact that it's impossible to trust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (even though we had no idea he was so charming ), that the Arabs cannot keep their word, and that diplomats, like all human beings, are big gossips. I think this works to their favor. People who declare that they hate gossip are self-righteous and sanctimonious. Everyone must love gossip, for it's the first form of communication.

As George Bernard Shaw once observed, it's better for people to gossip about you than not mention your name at all. Reality-television stars can attest to this. Without gossip, there is no history. The only thing Assange did was to ensure that all those who were gossiped about - that includes you Hillary and you Bibi - will share a central place in history.