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French Version

Interface : One Arab e-nation

The massive show of emotion and patriotism needs a media like the Internet to facilitate it. Without the Internet, all these people would be 'disconnected patriots...'

JORDAN (Star) - Crisis brings Arabs together online. It's the most obvious outlet of Arab frustration and the means of communicating their political views, first to one another, then to the rest of the world.

Every major Arab site has a special 'patriotic' flavor nowadays with Palestinian flags, patriotic emblems and a general show of support to the Palestinian people.

Chat groups are 'exploding' with numbers reaching all-time highs, forums are being drowned by messages and messenger service use is going through the roof. What's more, there's a flurry of pro-Palestinian literature showing up all over the 'net'.

Polls conducted on Arab sites are receiving tens of thousands of respondents, all condemning Israel, while emails being forwarded everyday among, possibly, millions of Arabs are inviting them to vote in polls on international sites to ensure the results show Arab concern, anger and disgust with what's happening.

Emails with pictures of Israeli atrocities are being circulated, sent from Arabs to their foreign friends. Any articles or news stories published in an American or European newspaper that support the Palestinian cause are also being circulated to Arabs and non-Arabs.

Already, there are calls to boycott American products, to write to American politicians and so much more to get the message of Arab anger and frustration across to officials in the United States.

There is strength in numbers, and this is an obvious advantage for Arabs online who, most definitely, out number Israelis on the Internet. Arabs have never been able to make that advantage count, except in cyberspace.

Simply, its like people have found the means to vent their emotions, but more than that, they've also started to utilize the Internet to convey their arguments.

All the 'peaceful' means online are being used; and it is just a matter of time before the usual cyber-wars start between pro-Palestinian and Israeli hackers. Web sites on both sides will be attacked and viruses will be exchanged. Even SMS messaging is experiencing a massive surge on all mobile networks in the region.

As long as the crisis continues, there will be a heightened state of data communications exchange. The world is watching, listening and logging in, so there is a need for some planned publicity as this stage to convey the Arab view. It could be part of an advertising campaign online that would be published on American and European sites.

Arab-American activists have been doing it for years in traditional media, publishing advertisements that displayed the plight of the Palestinian people, showing an unarmed young Palestinian standing in front of an Israeli tank. Something similar online could be of benefit.

Also, there's a need to concentrate on English-language journalism that reaches the American reader through the Internet, because that's the only way for them to understand our view.

This massive show of emotion and patriotism needs a media like the Internet to facilitate it. Without the Internet, all these people would be 'disconnected patriots', which tells you something about the potential the Internet holds to bring people together.If only Arabs could unite off-line, as they do online. For now, the only viable dream is of one Arab e-nation. It's happening.

Zeid Nasser
The Star

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