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Israel: would Israeli grassroots support harm the Iranian uprising?

In the past two weeks Israelis were following the tweets coming out of Iran with excitement, but were divided on the issue of participation in the “Twitter revolution.” Blogger Esther Yerushalmi, who was banned from Iran as a child during the Islamic revolution, writes [HE]:

“As I watch the news coming from Iran a wave of memories takes me back to 1979: my little brother and I cuddled in bed listening to the frightening gun shots and screams from the streets: “death to the Shah, death to America, death to Israel”. Overnight we became unwanted and had to run away from Iran. At the time I was busy with the ties in my hair and being in love with the neighbor's son, so losing my childhood innocence and the comfort of my little world so abruptly shocked me too much to even feel the pain.

The Iranian people are now closing that cycle for me: the young people, whose parents drove me away from my home, are identifying with my pain now. When I talk to the people there now, they're so warm and sympathetic, ashamed of Ahmadinejad, apologizing for his crazy remarks, remembering the time our countries lived in peace and they too want to be a free nation now, united with the world. They reach out to me and talk to me like a sister, dreaming of the day I can come visit and their words make me cry.

What happened to these young people that made them open their hearts and see clearly? They were oppressed. When you're oppressed for a long time you either die out or become stronger. And they chose the strength because the aspiration for freedom is in the Iranian DNA and unity is in the Islam DNA, not the ayatollah Islam, but the real original Islam. And when these two aspirations don’t materialize, they [Iranians] are ready to die for it.

Regardless of other interests, so many people online support the fight for these aspirations but only a few hundreds of Israelis are among them. Could we leave the distrust behind and support these people as people, who want and deserve exactly what we want? They cry out for our support. Yes, ours too. They want to join us and want us to join them. Can we be generous now?”

Elad Rosen, an Israeli art student, forwarded an email stating ways to help the Iranian people online and his email appeared on many blogs and was quoted in the Israeli press. He writes:

“At this pivotal historical moment, the notion of a global village is becoming most relevant. For the first time we can do more than just watch the events, we can actively and almost effortlessly help people fighting for their freedom and democracy under an oppressive cruel government”.

Some of his suggestions included:
• Setting up safe international proxy web addresses for Iranians
• Seeding torrents of Iranian videos and re distributing videos and images to help decentralize the information flow and make it hard on the Iranian censorship
• Changing our twitter location to Tehran to confuse Iranian government officials trying to locate and close twitter accounts

Indeed, many Israelis changed their Twitter location to Tehran and some haven't changed it back yet. That phenomenon resulted in a conspiracy theory that the revolution tweets are ALL coming from Tel Aviv as part of the efforts to deny the magnitude of the Iranian uprising or blame Israel for it.

As Iranian freedom demonstrations were organized all over the world, a local group of Web activists and Iranian Jews tried to organize such a demonstration at Rabin square in Tel Aviv on 27/6/09. Over 600 people registered as ‘attending’ or ‘maybe attending’ at the Facebook event, however less than 20 people showed up. The organizers were disappointed by the small number of protesters.

Some of the Twitter and Facebook conversations in Hebrew may shed a light on the reasons Israelis hesitate to engage. This short twitter conversation took place on June 18th between llana Tamir, the community manager of Israblog, the biggest Israeli blog hosting platform, and Gal Mor, a famous technology blogger and until recently the content manager of Ynet website: (translated from Hebrew)

@ilanatam: I'm not sure Israeli participation in the online campaign is the right thing to do. The revolution shouldn’t seem like an Israeli intervention.
@galm: I think there's a difference between an action initiated by Israel as a country and an action of Israeli people, as citizens to citizens, not identifying ourselves as Israelis
@ilanatam: there is a difference all right but does it exist for the average citizen of Tehran who sees that Israelis are interfering with his internal affairs? They have an issue with Persian independence, you know

A different voice was expressed by Shachar Laudon on the wall of the Facebook event created for the Israeli protest:

“It's a futile protest. Iran was and will be Israel's enemy. Only if the ayatollah's rule will fall things might change but meanwhile I don’t want to support Mousavi (which is an Ahmadinejad dressed as a lamb). I think we should stand behind the IDF, which will protect us from Iranian imperialism”.

According to Yair Lapid, a popular Israeli columnist on Yedioth Acharonot newspaper, the IDF almost prevented the Iranian uprising. In the weekend print edition (26/6/09), he writes:

“what is happening in the past two weeks in ‘freedom square’ in Tehran – the wonderful accumulation of young people, internet culture and women power- wouldn’t have happened if two months ago we would have listened to our regular bunch of boisterous hysterical voices trying to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities. If that were to happen, the Iranian people would have done what we do in times of crisis: stand behind their government washed with patriotic anger, so Ahmadinejad wouldn't have needed fraud to get reelected. We would have lost this one time chance to see a real internal change bringing about the collapse of an evil empire and we wouldn't have even known we lost it”.


  • to answer to the author of the post: yes, we ca be generous, we should be generous. we all belong to the same nation: humans. all the differences between us are so insignificant and we are ridicules not to see that they are our strength. we shoud respect eacch other the way we are. when will we understand that?

  • thanks very much for this article

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