Cyber wars could be better than rubber bullets

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Cyber wars could be better than rubber bullets
By Ray Hanania — I quickly took notice when it was reported that someone, possibly Saudi computer geeks, had broken into the Israeli banking system to steal Israeli credit card numbers.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (he’s the smart one) vowed to avenge the “terrorist act” by “Saudi terrorists.” Ayalon may have exaggerated the extent of the theft, though. Chances are the majority of the stolen credit cards belong to “Israelis” who are actually living in the United States.

But knowing how tough the Israelis are on violence, and on Arab members of the Knesset who think they have free speech without consequences, I fully expected Israel to launch an retaliatory cyber-strike against the Saudis.

So did the Saudis; they quickly announced that due to fears Israel would to act on its threats, planned reforms giving women the right to vote were being suspended.

I think one of the Saudi Sheiks huffed at Ayalon’s threats, declaring, “We don’t need credit cards.”
Why would we steal them when we own everything already?” Iran’s mercurial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn’t want to miss an opportunity to jump into the pool of another international incident. He issued a fatwa declaring Israel and the Saudis “Great Satans” because apparently, in Iran, the only people who have credit cards are the infidels and wealthy mullahs who wear religious garb in public but are the first in the line at Dubai’s international airport changing rooms to shed their veils and their holier-than-thou attitudes.

Feeling left out of the international crisis (again) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that one of the credit card numbers stolen was actually his. He hinted through advisors that he suspected the cyber-theft was actually an Israeli “inside job” aimed at covering up the poisoning of the late PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, not wanting Abbas to one-up him on leadership, was quick to respond to a question about the credit card crisis from burka-clad and nikab-veiled Arab journalists in the Gaza Strip.

“We refuse to renounce our refusal to recognize the Zionist entity, compromise on land or give up on our demand for control of al-Quds – not the newspaper, of course, I’m talking about the city!” Ayalon’s threats should not be taken lightly, though. It’s very possible that the Mossad will organize a hit squad made up of their top agents. I imagine they’ll all be dressed to the nines in Prada, carrying Louis Vuitton purses, with dresses by Donatella Versace and ruby-red lipstick named after Ehud Barak.

I always wondered after Barak led that assault on Beirut so many years ago why he didn’t do a Paul Newman. Newman launched a very successful salad dressing brand. Barak could have launched a whole clothing line and put new meaning behind the phrase “dressed to kill.”

When they go to purchase the disguises for the Mossad hit squad, there is a slim possibility their credit cards will be declined.

Hmmm. This credit card war could cause a major international scandal.

Of course, there is a silver lining in all of this.

When we have our international leaders screaming about credit cards and cyber-war, that means they’re not firing real weapons at each other.

In the Middle East, that could be a good thing.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, media consultant, standup comedian and Chicago radio talk show host.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania