The political unrest that overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and empowered the opposition in other Arab countries has been called the Facebook Revolution because the opposition used Internet services like Facebook and YouTube to promote their causes and expose government crackdowns.
So The Jewish Standard asked Jonathan Golden of Drew University if the Internet is a factor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Absolutely,” he said. “You’re seeing more Palestinians communicating with one another and trying to organize. I think they’re taking a page from the ‘Arab Spring.’ They are indeed trying to leverage the power of the Internet in order to organize.
“I guess the good news is that they’re trying to organize peacefully,” the Drew University anthropology professor added. “In many ways, this is empowering to them, but maybe this is something that should make Israelis more comfortable, to see that if there’s going to be anything, it’s going to be peaceful rather than violent.”
At the beginning of the film “My So-Called Enemy,” which was screened at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades earlier this month, Gal, an Israeli, and Palestinian Rezan appear to be exchanging text or instant messages. Golden told the Standard that’s becoming more commonplace.
“You’re also seeing a lot of Israelis and Palestinians speaking with one another and peoples throughout the Middle East,” he said.
In fact, the Drew University Center on Religion, Culture, and Conflict is organizing a video conference project to take this a step forward.
“We’ve spoken with students in Egypt, and we’ve spoken with students in Israel and Jerusalem, that are an Israeli and Palestinian group. Now the next thing is to do a three-way conference,” Golden said.
“We said to some of the Egyptian students, ‘We know that there are Israelis that support you, that are supporting your efforts for democracy,’ and they probably wouldn’t know that just by reading the papers,” Golden said. The papers, he said, represent Israelis as fearful of the Egyptian uprising and preferring Mubarak, because he represented security.
“I said to the Egyptians, ‘I don’t think you’re aware of this, but there are many Israelis that support your efforts.’ So when the idea came up of them speaking directly with one another, they all got very, very excited.
“I think that is amazing. It’s the best way, for instance, that you can get Egyptians to change their attitudes about Israelis, to see that there are Israelis that are with them, and concerned, and support their efforts for democracy.”