Possibilities and Limitations (Cross post)

January 29, 2011


Just a few short years ago the term “social media” was only known to a select few in hi-tech start-ups and venture capital firms. Today, it is difficult to tell where the “real world” ends and where cyberspace begins. And vice-versa: often events are planned in cyberspace using Twitter, Facebook and e-mail, the event happens, and it is digitized and uploaded to YouTube and other social networking sites.

Anti-government demonstrators in Iran, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia have used social media with varying degrees of success. The results are still uncertain in a number of these countries. Israeli supporters and Palestinian supporters regularly try to match digital wits on Facebook and similar sites. One thing caught my attention, and I bet you’ve noticed it to: people living under authoritarian and totalitarian regimes have used social media to great effect, whereas in liberal democracies its use is more restricted.

Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes control all of the “old school” media: newspapers, radio, television. They censor all of these. They also censor university curricula, limit or outlaw trade unions, co-opt professional unions and even coerce the support of religious institutions. Of course, none of this is news. It is exactly the reason that protesters use the new media: they have nothing else to use.

In Tunisia, the country’s president was forced to flee after ruling for more than two decades. Egypt’s president dismissed his cabinet just hours before I sat down to write this. Jordan’s king is considering dismissing his cabinet. While we still do not know how these events will end. If new governments are formed, we cannot know whether they will be more responsive to their citizens. Thus, we cannot say with certainty that “social media” are “good” in and of themselves, only that in these instances they were useful.

One must also remember that Iran successfully crushed a pro-democracy movement that was fueled by the social media. It is actually not clear if the demonstrators were pro-democracy or just anti-Ahmadinejad. Apparently, tear gas, bullets and truncheons still have the same affect in “meat space,” regardless of how many friends one has or how many pages one has clicked “Like.” When a regime is dedicated to waging and winning the battle on the streets, social media are as useful as “teats on a bull,” as my Great Grandfather, farmer that he was, used to say.

Liberal democracies by definition have an independent press, judiciary, robust opposition and rule of law. Citizens in liberal democracies are able to choose from a wide range of domestic and foreign news sources, take advantage of a wide-range of civic and political associations. They are able to meet and interact with their elected leaders – and with opposition leaders – freely.

People also have an almost bewildering amount of business, cultural and social choices presented to them via social media. In other words, the political has to compete with the economic, cultural and social. In Israel, the turn-out in the last general election was 65%; three years earlier it was just over 70%; three years before that it was almost 80%. Social media are not responsible for this voter apathy; the blame for that can be laid squarely at the doorstep of Israel’s political parties and their machinations.

Can social media be used to re-kindle interest in the institutions of democracy in a liberal democracy? Many people will no doubt will claim that the “Tea Party” in the US has done just that. However, in addition to there being several socioeconomic factors at work in its formation, the “Tea Party” movement has also benefited great from the coverage given to it by the old media. It has also received begrudging support from the Republican establishment. Thus, the jury is still out.

I see a white flag…

January 6, 2009

I see a white flag being raised on a pole by the Arabs. In this article, an arab journalist says what must be on the minds of many in the Middle East. “Palestinians – give up. Make peace, think about your children’s future.”

Israel has the strength to crush any opponent in the Middle East if its anger is  roused. If Israel has the will, it will crush the Palestinian terrorist groups (including Fatah) and rule Gaza as a military province. Raise the Palestinians to be educated, to be civilised and help them help themselves. Then when they can prove to the Israelis that they are civilised, then there can be a Palestinian state.

Otherwise, all they will have is real poverty and war.

Signs of Intifada #3? The Return of the Dreaded “Resistance”?

July 7, 2008

Rafik Husseini, director of Abbas’s bureau, said the PA president would continue to negotiate with Israel despite the lack of progress.
“Israel is talking a lot about peace, but its actions on the ground are tantamount to acts of war,” Husseini said.

Hmm. What actions could al-liar mean? Could he mean the Har Homa apartments? Or could he be expressing the PA’s belief that Hezbollah and Hamas have shown that violence works and therefore they will try again?

Look out folks! Intifada Three is coming your way, complete with MORE fabricated atrocities and suicide bombings! Coming soon to a tv set near you!

The Klots of the Israeli government

June 10, 2008

There is an excellent phrase to describe a basic principle of success in war, which comes from Guderien: “klotzen, nicht klerken”, or “boot ’em, don’t spatter ’em”.
The Israeli government is likely to repeat the stupidity of its planning, political manoeuvres and ideology by ordering a limited, timid operation in Gaza against Hamas and the assorted terrorist groups there. By wasting effort, treasure and lives, the government hopes to stay in power.
People of Israel, defy the leftists in the media and elect a Likud government with a brief to prepare for all-out war. Otherwise, this lot will lead you into more casualties, contempt and danger.

Conservatives with balls?

June 8, 2008

I’ve just heard that the Conservative government of Canada will not be attending Durban II… My god, they do have balls…
Bravo, Canada! I do hope that other western nations stay away from this ridiculous charade of a conference. Let’s rescue human rights from the worst abusers… how on earth did Libya, Cuba, Iran and Pakistan end up chairing the preparatory committee drawing up the agenda?

The Great Conceit and Mistake of Western Intelligensia

June 4, 2008

Growing in nascent form but taking a fuller shape since September 11th has been the refusal of Western intellectual elites, mostly liberal but not exclusively so, to recognize the state of war declared by radical Islam on the West. Counter-arguments on the state of affairs have varied from “It’s not our war”, “It needs a police action, not a war” to “this war was started by the (insert shadowy Jew-related group here)”. All of which betray an essential flaw in the thinking that has come to dominate the mainstream of the intelligentsia, that is to say that the Western intelligentsia cannot bring themselves to recognise an enemy from outside of their own society. Motives other than malign are arrogantly attributed to our enemies in order to remove the possibility from their minds that these people might not have a legitimate grievance against the West that we can safely acknowledge.
The aims of the Islamists are declared and publicly so. The aims are to dominate the West and eradicate the culture of freedom, to spread a fiery and intolerant faith to all corners of the world, and though they differ as to the ultimate timing, the elimination of all Jews (oh, and Hindus, Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims who don’t do exactly as they are told by the Islamists, Sikhs, and any other faith or lack of it or lack of sufficient Muslim piety…). This is not an enemy with which one can reason but rather an enemy that interprets anything other than military action as weakness allowing further aggression.
This does not mean that the Islamists are stupid – far from it. Crazed sadists, yes, but they know how to exploit the malaise of the intellect in the West. Notice that each act of aggression is marketed to the West as an act or revenge or protest, most often dressed up as a “protest” about the “occupation in Palestine” but also aimed at foreign policy, cultural outlook and policy or anything where the appeal will fall to guilt and create inertia or retreat. The Madrid bombings were in reality about punishing Spain both for contributing troops to Iraq but especially to begin the Muslim reconquest of Spain by putting the Spanish on notice as to their fate for daring to be independent in the 15th Century. The Islamist problem is with Israel, not with the location of its borders; in their world, Israel must not exist at all.
And furthermore, by our refusal recognise their aims, by refusing to recognise them as enemies that must be fought and killed until they surrender, we facilitate that aim. There is no backing away from this fact; the Islamists have been emboldened by each retreat and compromise, each time treating the terrorist movements and states as normal entities and insisting on applying the rules only to ourselves.
There is a saying: We can only bend the rules so far before they come around and stab us in the back.

Al Dura exposed as a fake!

May 24, 2008

Phillipe Karsenty has won his case against France 2 television. One small step in exposing the complicity of the western media in the propaganda of the Palestinians and the enemies of the west.
Let us bloggers try and get this news into the media and start challenging the dangerous assumptions and corrupt journalists who side with the enemies of freedom.

Naqba bias

May 16, 2008

A very useful tool in analysis of either media or political rhetoric on Israel is Natan Sharansky’s Three D’s, which when present alert the reader or listener to the presence of anti-semitic content.
Demonisation, Deligitimisation and Double Standards.
This week’s coverage of the birth of Israel was of course morally neutralised in the mainstream media by the inclusion of the “Naqba”, the narrative of Palestinian Arab loss in the War of Independence. Yet this stream of reporting is in itself taking an anti-semitic slant.

The demonisation comes from the myths and lies and comparision with genocidal regimes, the Double Standards stem from the continued regard of the Palestinian Arabs as “refugees”, even over several generations. The Deligitimisation comes out of the “Naqba” narrative itself, indeed it is central to the narrative.
One cannot say simply that the Arab states and religious leaders, backed by a majority of the population launched a war of genocide against the fledging state of Israel aimed at the annihilation of the Jews and that they were backed by ex-Nazi soldiers. No, Israel has to be responsible for the Arabs choice in fleeing, Israel has to be responsible for the Arabs wishing to murder Jews and ultimately we can blame the Jews for their own misfortunes.

To compare the founding of Israel with the “Naqba” is about as explicitly anti-semitic as you can get these days.


May 12, 2008

Well, the writing is on the wall for the state currently known as Lebanon. In fairly short order, Hezbollah will gain full control of the country, turn it into a mirror image of Iran and prepare for all out terrorist warfare against Israel.
And who didn’t see this coming?
The Left.
The best hope for a continued and tolerant democracy in Lebanon now is the Israelis. Only a full scale war between Israel and Syria, with victorious Israel turning on Hezbollah/Lebanon after the defeat of the Assad regime can turn the path back.
Even then I have my doubts, And I wonder if the best thing for Israel would be to root out and destroy Hezbollah on the ground, and break up Lebanon into smaller states that can then be protected by mutual alliance. The Shia of Hezbollah are going to attempt to commit genocide against the Druze (non-Muslims), and maybe the Christians too.
Who will be blamed? America or Israel or both for not “doing enough for peace” when Iran, her Syrian puppet, and its terrorist proxies have made abundantly clear that their interests lie in regional domination, the extermination of Israel and eventually every last Jew in the Middle East.

Czechoslovakia 1938/39 anyone?

Has the world gone mad?

May 2, 2008

The Israeli government and the US Secretary of State are advocating a ceasefire with Hamas, curtailing anti-terrorist operations that have been saving Israeli lives and dismantling Israel west of the Green Line for what? The hope of peace? As the wonderful Caroline Glick puts it, Hamas were elected by the Palestinian people and are a genocidal, fascistic terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s extermination.
Giving your sworn enemy weapons and time to train with them is not the way to peace. Death and lunacy lies that way.