Most of us still remember the small portable radio receiver known to the people of Israel simply as the ‘transistor’. It was the smartphone’s great grandfather. Every hour on the hour, wherever you were – on the street or in the grocery store, at the park or on the beach – Israelis fished the small appliance out of their pockets or handbags, six beeps were heard, and the people of Israel listened intently to the news from ‘Kol Israel’ (the Voice of Israel). If by chance you had left your transistor at home, it was perfectly acceptable to stand very near to a perfect stranger and share the news streaming out of the tiny speaker with them.
Information and communication technologies have moved forward in giant leaps in recent years. Who would have dreamt in those days of cable TV, the Internet and cellular phones? But with progress, risks increased as well. Most home based communication systems are totally dependent on at least one of two vital factors – an uninterrupted electrical power supply, and the ability of complex computerised and networked systems, over which we have no control, to withstand very heavy usage loads.
A future war could cause a massive and prolonged damage to electrical supply to Israeli homes. Computers, wireless home phones and chargers for laptop computers and mobile phones will all be rendered useless. Cellular telephone networks, even those that will continue functioning, will crash again and again under the heavy demand that will be generated after each missile hit or terror attack, as happened in the past after terror incidents of a much smaller scale. Who has still got at home an old telephone that is connected directly to the wall phone socket by a cable and will continue to function as long as the telephone network is functioning, irrespective of electrical supply?
During a prolonged missile war, when Israeli towns and cities will be attacked frequently and their inhabitants will be dependent on vital current information and on changing army command instructions that will be broadcast on the main radio channels, the only means by which Israeli citizens will be able to receive these broadcasts could be the old and faithful transistor. So dig into the boxes in your store room or loft, get the old and dusty receiver out, replace its batteries and store it safely with the matches, the candles and the bottles of mineral water.