Netanyahu’s Candy Crush Saga

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu uploaded a Youtube greeting for Rosh Hashana, the new Jewish year featuring himself playing Candy Crush Saga on his Ipad.

With a map and an Israeli flag hanging behind him, Netanyahu talks about how hardship can be dealt with using the power of thought and concentration, while the game’s all too familiar music plays in the background.

Cute or embarrassing? Judge for yourselves:

(I’m sorry, there are no subtitles but i’m sure you’ll get the idea)

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#ShanaTova Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif

Foreign Minister of Iran, Mr. Javad Zarif tweeted a Jewish new year greeting to his followers.

Activist Christine Pelosi (yeah, also the daughter of) tweeted back, thanking him but also pointing out the almost systematic holocaust denial by Iranian officials, namely former president Ahmadinejad.

In an unprecedented move, Zarif, also a former ambassador to the UN and a Denver University graduate, replied what seems not only as words of criticism against the former president but also, a crack in the holocaust denial doctrine, fashioned to delegitimize Israel’s existence.  iranian foreign minister javar zarif wishes shana tova on twitter

Just to clarify with a very quick side note to put this in the right context:

There are roughly 25,000 Jews in Iran today, relics of a large Jewish community that dates back over 2,500 years. Today, there are about 100,000 Iranian Jews in Israel, 5,000 in Europe and about 20,000 in the USA.

The former president is one of some who believe that the only justification for the State of Israel is the holocaust, therefore denying it ever happened would mean that Israel has no claim or right to exist as a sovereign state (that’s in a very tiny nutshell).

Also important to note is that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also tweeted a New Year greeting that.

Now back to this eye catching engagement:

This exchange of tweets gained Zrif over 2,000 new followers in just a few hours, and some media attention that expresses hope that this administration is proving to be more moderate as it promised.

Interestingly enough, President Hassan Rouhani had also tweeted a similar greeting, however this was quickly followed up by his media adviser who claimed the president does not even have an account.

iran president on twitter

Social engagement Vs. familiar methods of denial may be indicative of will Vs. confidence the new administration has or lacks, as it takes the reigns over a country with a glorious past, a depressing present and an unknown future.

Is this twitter conversation a green light for Iranian civilians to speak their minds or is twitter the next online platform to be blocked in Iran by the Revolutionary Guards’ cyber team?

With all the cynicism and pessimism that can be applied when it comes to the Ayatollah regime, it is a new year after all, and it is custom to forgive and ask for forgiveness for the wrongs of the previous year, and to look upon the new year with hope and positive vibes. So i’m gonna do just that, and wish everyone, a very sweet and happy new year. Shana Tova

Winds of a Cyber War

In a ceremony attended by some of the country’s major cyber security engineers and executives as well as political figures and financial leaders,  Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, inaugurated the new, state-of-the-art High-Tech Park, in the southern city of Be’er Sheva.

In his speech, Netanyahu referred to cyber and information security as a top priority for Israel, not only as a world leader in this field but also due to the reality in the region. And the reality in the region is certainly much to be concerned about at the moment and one cannot overlook the timing of this pre-planned event that took place today, while the world waits for congress to ratify U.S. President Barrack Obama’s convictions regarding the situation in Syria.

With a U.S. strike against Syrian targets in the horizon come the usual threats on Israel by Syria and Iran, followed by Netanyahu’s constant reminders that Israel will strike back if attacked.

Will striking back include a cyber attack as well? Has there been a change in the existing cyber defense doctrine? Has the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad ever trained a cyber army as he did an entire military corps for chemical warfare?

Chances are he didn’t. In that case, who are the combatants? Are they paid hackers? Ideologist hackers? Of which nationality are these groups or individuals? Are these questions even relevant in a world that is getting smaller thanks to big data analysis?

I leave it with the experts, knowing only that cyber warfare puts the civilian population on any side as well as traditional national strategic targets more vulnerable than ever before, and opens a window for sectarian, partisan, guerrilla and civilian groups to take matters in their own hands by intervening in a way scarier and more chaotic than any amphibious landing on any shore.