May 17, 2006

Piercing the Wall of Silence

I know it's taking me way too long to write my dispatch from the West Bank. Sorry about that. I will post it shortly, I promise.

In the meantime, check out this blog from a Lebanese who calls himself The Perpetual Refugee. He is in Israel now, which is treasonous. But he's there anyway. And he met my Israeli friend Lisa Goldman. He wrote about meeting her here, and she wrote about meeting him here.

Arabs and Israelis are talking to and linking each other in the blogosphere despite the reactionary laws against this kind of fraternizing behavior. (Israel has no such dumb laws.) Now they're even meeting each other as friends in the real world.

My friend and former guest-blogger Lebanon.Profile recently discovered the Israeli blogosphere and wrote an amazing post on one of his blogs about what that was like. Don't miss it.

You might, conceivably, read something like these blog entries in the Jerusalem Post or Haaretz. But you will not read anything like them in Beirut's Daily Star. I love Lebanon dearly, I hate having to say this, and, hey, the Daily Star published one of my articles once. But unfortunately, that's how it is.

UPDATE: Lebanon.Profile, my Lebanese friend in Beirut, writes:
Not knowing about "them" is the worst crime we can commit. It invalidates them as humans, as if they don't even matter. They are Stalin's faceless enemy, the rabid dog, the evil blood suckers whom it is righteous to kill.
Meanwhile, a knee-jerk academic in Britain refuses to read anything written by an Israeli. It burns! It burns us!

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 17, 2006 11:09 PM


So Allison Kaplan Sommer introduced you and me in Tel Aviv and you linked to my blog. Then InLebanon - whom you know from Beirut - read my blog and linked to it. Perpetual Refugee read InLebanon's post about my blog and wrote a post about something I wrote, then he came to Israel and that's how we met.

Pretty amazing, isn't it?

Posted by: Lisa at May 17, 2006 11:19 PM

Yes, it is amazing.

It's a small world. And it's one world, no matter how high and thick a wall certain countries erect.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 17, 2006 11:26 PM

...and with the click of a mouse he pierced the wall of silence and started a revolution. Or so we hope.

Posted by: The Perpetual Refugee at May 18, 2006 12:33 AM

Just wanted to get my comment in next to three such wonderful people...

A year ago I wrote about a beautiful commercial then showing in Israel, expressing the power of the internet to bring the Middle East together. It seems it is happening.

(If you haven't seen the commercial, go watch it, it's a must-see.)

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at May 18, 2006 02:05 AM

Just to tempt you a little more, here's the tag line of the commercial:

Bahayim ze `adayin bilti efshari aval ba'internet q'sharim k'elu nosarim b'khol yom

בחיים זה עדיין בלתי אפשרי אבל באינטרנט קשרים כאלו נוצרים בכל יום

In [real] life this is still impossible but on the Internet connections like these are formed every day.

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at May 18, 2006 02:24 AM

Heartwarming, but not really encouraging. The Arabs that know Israel best of all, intimately, are the Palestinians. And their reaction to it is well known.

Two world wars have been fought in Europe by people who were fluent in each other's languages and literatures.

Sometimes it is the case that the more we know each other, the more we differ.

Posted by: Gloomy Goo at May 18, 2006 03:37 AM

Israel and Palestine will have some kind of peace when both sides decide fighting for their version of justice, rather than what they get with peace, isn't worth it.

Full "justice" is not possible, and seldom is.

I wish Israeli politicians would continually point out that the EU, UN, and even USA support regimes in the ME, and the PA in particular, when those regimes refuse to allow free speech or free religion.

The lack of free speech is why so many Palestinians hate Israel so mindlessly.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at May 18, 2006 06:32 AM

Very cool to see the Internet making the world a small place. Too bad about the academic boycott. I don't think it is ever good to stop the flow of ideas and thinking.

Posted by: buildings r my life at May 18, 2006 06:49 AM


Thanks for the link.

It's amazing how quickly Lebanese and Israeli bloggers have been getting together since your visit to Israel.

Perpetual Refugee, Laila, Hassan, Mustapha, me, and others are now regular readers of the Israeli blogosphere, and Israelis are reading our blogs (Alison, Lisa, Savtadotty, Fabian, She, Yael, and others).

Posted by: lebanon.profile at May 18, 2006 05:39 PM

In regards to the British academic boycott of Israel, I am reminded of the scene in Douglas Adam's Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy where a group of angry philosophers threaten to stage a boycott if the supercomputer Deep Thought is allowed to pursue philosophical questions. The wise (and wise-ass) computer retorts,

"And whom will that Inconvenience?" :)

Posted by: Peter S. at May 21, 2006 01:02 PM

Unfortunately it isn't just limited to academics, although they should know better of course. Here's a fairly well known columnist and ex-editor of Private Eye, Richard Ingrams

"I have developed a habit when confronted by letters to the editor in support of the Israeli government to look at the signature to see if the writer has a Jewish name. If so, I tend not to read it.",6903,997338,00.html

So no possibility that the government could be right on some things, and badly wrong on others. just not listening in fact.

Posted by: CB at May 23, 2006 10:40 AM


Posted by: Jing-Xian-Wang-Luo at December 9, 2007 05:43 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member


"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere

Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com

News Feeds


Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button


Tip Jar


Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn