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Graffiti in Teheran
By Micah Halpern

Thursday September 13, 2012


The Middle East is changing in some most unpredictable ways. And some of the most surprising changes are the work of individuals, not governments.

For example: The Iranian city of Shiraz have been sprayed with Hebrew graffiti. The graffiti reads 'No to war.' The phrase was also been also written in Farsi, the Persian language, and in English. I assume these Iranian graffiti artists want to make sure that no one misses their message.

This is not a ploy orchestrated by the Mossad to convince Iranians living in their capital city to stop their saber rattling. The graffiti was scribbled by a group of activists called TeHTel, which stands for Teheran Haifa Tel Aviv.

TeHTel is a grass roots campaign among citizens in those three cities who believe that bombing each other is not the answer and that it is extremely dangerous and it is wrong. The group likes to emphasize that they are a campaign of people-to-people and not state-to-state. They point out that theirs is not a political undertaking.

These activists are not flower children drawing love symbols. They are acutely aware of the issues and the dangers in their message and, more importantly, of the medium through which they have chosen to deliver that message. They know very well how the writing on the wall will look. In the book of Daniel the writing on the wall was in Aramaic. Here it is in Hebrew, Farsi and English.

Any graffiti in Iran could land the artist in prison. Graffiti that challenges the government is met with even greater punishment. Now add to that Graffiti that is written in Hebrew. The TeHTel movement has taken some very brave steps for their cause. Scribbling this message on the walls of Teheran and linking themselves to the Israelis who are scribbling the same message on their walls puts group members and their loved ones in certain danger.

Another example: The Israel Electric Company (IEC) is attacked between 10,000 and 20,000 times a day. That's right, a day.

The electric company is a good, ripe target for cyber terrorists and cyber attackers. If the electricity of Israel is compromised, the entire country is in danger. That means everything from water and hospitals to defense systems and planes.

One would think that most of these attacks against Israel would come from the greatest enemy of Israel today, i.e. Iran. But that would be an incorrect assumption. Iranian attacks on Israel number only 100 - 200 per day. That could be the work of a single hacker or of a few teenagers. It is hardly a massive cyber offensive by Iran. It certainly is not a dedicated team of high level mathematicians and computer scientists attempting to hack into Israel's soft underbelly.

Where do most of the 10,000 to 20,000 daily attacks come from? Most of the attacks come from China, Russia and North Korean. When you think about it that makes much more sense.

These two events lend important insight into the workings of the Middle East. It showcases the bravery of individual people willing to cross boundaries and borders for a cause in which they mutually believe. And it highlights the need to protect the essential services of one country from the people of other countries out to destroy them. One is an act of bravery, of people not afraid to show their hand in defiance of their governments. The other is an act of cowardice, of anonymous, brainwashed, hackers doing the bidding of their government.

Cyber terror can cause great harm. Graffiti can the raise consciousness of a sleeping people. Both acts are punishable if caught.

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4 June 2017 12:13 PM in Columns

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