Those who erroneously blamed Facebook for causing political upheaval in the Middle East, now hear this: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a chat on his Facebook page in Arabic.
That’s right, Israel’s prime minister reached out to the Arab community via his Facebook page, showing that the social network can facilitate peaceful discussion if the parties involved feel inclined to have such a conversation.
As such, the exercise actually showed the flip side of exactly what we’ve seen in so-called revolutionary situations: Facebook is the medium, not the messenger. Of course, when the outcome is peace rather than dissent, no one complains.
For the chat that took place earlier today, web surfers from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, the Gulf states, northern Africa, the Palestinian Authority and from among the Israeli Arab sector posted over 700 questions for Netanyahu.
We can only guess that the timing of this chat might somehow address the fact that hackers from within Israel posted Facebook passwords of Arabs, and thus Nethanyahu’s chat was intended to keep the peace.
During the chat, Netanyahu responded to a question about the diplomatic process, “I am ready at this moment to go to Ramallah and begin talks with Abu Mazen without preconditions. To my regret, Abu Mazen is not prepared to come to my office. I think that this is a mistake.”
Regarding Iran, he said “Iran is developing nuclear weapons in order to control the entire Middle East and beyond. This is a direct threat to peace.”
The Prime Minister referred to the Arab Spring and said that, “Increasing freedom within these countries will aid their prosperity. Increasing freedom of information could aid peace because at the moment, the Arab world still has stigmas and stereotypes about the State of Israel that have no bearing on reality.”
Regarding Saudi Arabia, he said, “We have many common interests that we could advance regarding the economy and regional policy. I believe that, like us, Saudi Arabia sees that there is a great danger in the spread of terrorism by extremist elements. We expect that the Saudi regime, like others, will act against these dangerous forces.”
A video embed shows Netanyahu speaking with his translator to post the chat in Arabic. Readers, what do you think about this development?