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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 28, 2010 / 14 Iyar 5770

The medium isn't the message

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Why aren't democratic dissidents as well-known in the free world today as the dissidents who challenged the Soviet empire were in the 1970s and 1980s?

Activists confronting repressive regimes in the 21st century often have all the communication tools of the digital age at their disposal — Facebook, YouTube, cell phones, e-mail. Yet none of them has achieved anything like the renown of Andrei Sakharov, Vaclav Havel, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, or the other indomitable souls who challenged communist tyranny in the decades before the Internet existed.

That paradox was posed last week by David Keyes, the co-founder and director of CyberDissidents.org — an organization dedicated, in the words of its website, "to bringing the world's attention to online democracy advocates and their plight." Speaking at a conference on the Internet and contemporary dissent organized by the Bush Institute and hosted by Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Keyes framed his agenda candidly: He wants to make pro-democracy internet activists in the Arab world and Iran famous and beloved in the West. Keyes was an aide to Natan Sharansky, the celebrated Soviet-dissident-turned-Israeli-statesman, and it was Sharansky who taught him that when it comes to anti-totalitarian dissidents, "the more famous you are, the more protected you are."

The best example of that phenomenon is Sharansky himself. The Ukrainian-born mathematician and human-rights champion was falsely convicted of treason and spent nine years in the Soviet gulag before finally being released by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986. Years later, Gorbachev recalled visiting Canada as a Politburo member on an agricultural mission in 1983, and being repeatedly peppered with questions about Sharansky, whom at that point he had never heard of. To Gorbachev personally, the refusenik's fate was a matter of indifference. But Sharansky's high profile in the West convinced the future Soviet ruler that Moscow gained nothing by keeping him imprisoned.


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For a more recent illustration of the significance of fame to democratic dissidents, consider the Iranian activist Ahmad Batebi. During a protest against government repression in 1999, Batebi was photographed waving a shirt stained with the blood of a student who had been gunned down by the police. After that photograph appeared on the cover of The Economist, Batebi was arrested, tortured, and condemned to die. "With this picture," the judge told him, "you have signed your own death sentence." But that picture had made Batebi famous, and his threatened hanging triggered a global uproar. His death sentence was commuted to 15 years and in 2008, he escaped to the West.

But Batebi was an exception; it was only by chance that he landed on the cover of The Economist. How does a dissident living in a dictatorship attain the kind of fame that ultimately saved Sharansky? At CyberDissidents.org, Keyes spotlights many of the Middle East's pro-democracy bloggers and online organizers, with links to their writings, descriptions of their work, and photographs. But compared with the 20th century's great Soviet and Eastern European dissidents, they might as well be anonymous.

"The Internet enables them to reach the world," Keyes says. "They push the 'send' button and thousands of people can instantly read their words. Yet not a single American in a million knows their names." Dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Havel, by contrast, communicated through samizdat — laboriously produced underground writings, printed in secret and circulated from hand to hand — and still managed to reach an international audience.

Perhaps the explanation for that puzzle lies in the very immediacy of the Internet itself.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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