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Us, ISIS and the Apple Watch

To all of us living in the best of times and the worst of times: Look up!

The exhilaration surrounding the long-awaited launch of the iPhone 6 was truly infectious. We have, after all, been eagerly awaiting the next technological leap that will ultimately make us more efficient and free more of our time allowing us to devote it to truly meaningful tasks. The thought that we can focus all of our combined energy and knowledge to advance towards that goal, not to mention figure out what to do with all the free time that we will suddenly have, is undoubtedly incredibly exciting. The possibility that in this global reality such advances affect so many of us all at the same time is truly astounding.

However, possibly because only weeks have passed since the 50 palpably frightening days endured by civilians, personally, this excitement was tainted by the urgency of some other pressing issues.

The threat of ISIS and of the many terrorist organizations actively engaged in recruiting, brainwashing and training men, women and children, utilizing the very same technology to join their ranks, is far more preoccupying than the prospect of cherished free time and meaningful lives that our children will lead. In this crazy, well-funded, highly sophisticated and ruthless race, terrorists are bound together by their hate for everything Western and validated by religious leaders and powerful State sponsors. They have transcended possible differences and have formed alliances, bound together by a common, deep-seated and virulent hate.

While we are ecstatic by the prospect of running with the new watch that will push us to our limits and beyond, there are others running (possibly with the same watch on) in all directions, destroying all that stands between them and the very dark and gloomy future to which they aspire. Technologically savvy as they may be, if these forces will have their way, technology may very well be halted to a complete standstill. Our children and grandchildren may not have all that free time after all. They may in fact go back in time, to an era that they will not be equipped to live in.

Never has Dickens seemed more relevant. His famous opening sentence in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, the universal nature of the book and the drama depicted within has never seemed more pertinent:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

The challenge throughout history has been to see, read and comprehend the writing on the wall while there is still time to do something about it. Throughout history, the resiliency of the human spirit constructs a semblance of ‘normalcy’ no matter the gravity of the situation. It is this ability that allows us to survive the challenges and with some luck, emerge emotionally and mentally sound.

Most of us living in the free world aspire to lead normal lives; go to school, work, and the movies; take part in advancing technologically in whatever form. Transcending differences of race, religion, color or gender, most of us profoundly want to live our lives and render them as meaningful and productive as possible. Herein lies the challenge. While we are fiercely insistent on continuing our lives, determined to prevent terror from reaching its’ main objective, namely to derail us from our planned path and instill fear; there IS a rapidly spreading, technologically savvy infrastructure racing towards its ultimate goal of destroying all that we hold near and dear.

While we are busy looking at our screen with admiration and incredulity, the very same screen is at the forefront of the successful dissemination of hateful and infectious ideas and ideals so foreign to Western thinking that we cannot conceptualize them, by individuals and organizations so familiar with it that they utilize and distort it to their advantage. The content on the screen may be too horrible to imagine, but, as the beheadings of the recent weeks have shown, they are not to terrible to be happening right before our very eyes.

So, while I too was momentarily thrilled to learn about the newly introduced technological advances and the possibilities that we approach on the horizon, I soon realized that I am much more preoccupied by the reports of counterterrorist experts. The writing is on the wall and we must look up in order to read and comprehend. Look up and acknowledge that we are indeed living ‘at the best of times and the worst of times’. Look up and reevaluate perceptions and paradigms that will enable to transcend perceived differences and focus on joint core values. Look up, this time – hopefully before it is too late.

About the Author
Adv. Michal Cotler-Wunsh is a PhD candidate in Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, researching the topic of free speech. She is a research fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at IDC Herzliya and a board member of Tzav Pius.
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