The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

Jerusalem Post honours “Jewish power-providers of the Arab Spring revolts”

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Israelis are apparently so worried by the so-called “Arab Spring” that the Jerusalem Post has honoured Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg as the world’s most influential Jew in 2011 for empowering the supposedly Israel-threatening protests:

Mark Zuckerberg’s deft denial during an Internet forum in Paris last month that Facebook was not responsible for the Arab Spring protests sweeping across the Middle East was somewhat disingenuous. In almost the same breath, Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook had performed a key role in the regional revolts from Tunisia to Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria. “It’s not a Facebook thing, it’s an Internet thing,” he said in response to a question about the Arab Spring. “I think Facebook was neither necessary nor sufficient for any of those things to happen. If it weren’t Facebook, it would be something else.”

Most accounts from rights activists themselves as well as journalists on the scene and sociologists analyzing the situation, however, clearly show that Facebook had an enormous influence on the start and spread of the uprisings, as well as their apparent domino effect. It served a primary means of communication.

Take Egypt, for example, where one of the most prominent leaders of the revolution, Wael Ghonim, squarely credited Facebook with its success in an interview shortly after president Hosni Mubarak stepped down in early April.

Ghonim, a marketing manager for Google, helped organize the massive January 25 demonstration in Tahrir Square by reaching out to Egyptian youths on Facebook, and was arrested and imprisoned for 12 days after the protest.

“I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him,” Ghonim told CNN. “This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook.”

If you accept that the story of the year so far has been the blossoming of the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East, and the thesis that Facebook at the very least enabled and encouraged, if not empowered, the protests by advertising them on the Internet, then its boss, Mark Zuckerberg, should be given his fair share of credit, whether he accepts it or not.

When it comes to influencing international events, therefore, it is Zuckerberg who takes first place in our list as the most influential Jew in today’s world.

It’s not the first time that Facebook has been credited in Israel for its potential to influence the world. Back in 2008, after a Davos meeting with Zuckerberg, Israeli President Shimon Peres told an international youth conference on the Holocaust, “You can fight anti-Semitism using social networks, like Facebook.”

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Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

June 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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