This article investigates the values associated with the early Internet in Israel. Given that the Internet was imported from the United States, it asks whether the techno-utopian discursive style surrounding the Internet in that country was imported to Israel too. Representations of the Internet are analyzed among three groups of actors: the press saw it in utopian terms, Israel’s “Internet pioneers” described its importance in a combination of religious and nationalist terms, and the owners of Israel’s first ISPs attributed no values to it at all. It would appear that the closer we get to the actual provision of the Internet to people’s homes, the less likely we are to find techno-utopian representations of it.
This article portrays the first decade of Internet connectivity in Israel. It focuses on the technology of the Internet, i.e. on the cables and wires that carry the Internet around the world, and on the bureaucratic processes that are called into play as the Internet reaches a new country. While the Internet appears to be a supranational technology, its institutionalization in Israel – and indeed throughout the world – can be seen to have been heavily dependent on state-level machinations, thereby inviting a somewhat more Westphalian approach than might be considered appropriate when dealing with such a global phenomenon as the Internet.