The BBC: The Most Potent State Propagandist

The BBC: The Most Potent State Propagandist

By Dr. David Halpin,

Blatant disinformation spews from the western media. And law is never mentioned. Sen.Mark Rubio can threaten a most cruel assassination of Nicolas Maduro, whilst Trump, Bolton (1) and Pence promise that ‘everything is on the table’. Psychopaths join together very easily and according to Hare (2) they make up about 4% of all populations worldwide. 

What the voters in all those ‘democratic’ nations fail to realise is that the characteristics of the psychopath make for an easy ascent of the greasy pole. Charm, lying and an able tongue are a few.

But how are they sustained? How do they escape preventive detention?

Of course, the ‘media’ is key. It works on the in-built prejudices of the subject populations, which it helps to generate. It makes sure they are not informed and that the big lies sink in with ease. I recall reading that the Third Reich found value in the polished, cunning British propaganda.

The reporting of the Syrian ‘civil war’ by the BBC is a prime example. In these islands the BBC/State Propagandist is ace.

To respond to it one needs to listen to the audio or watch the television so one can laboriously record the words. At one time the flagship programme, Today, produced a transcript of the whole three hours. With word recognition technology that would be easy to revive but that will not happen. The fact is that in every hour of its national and World Service Broadcasts there is cardinal omission, usually of the victim nation’s voice, distortion or frank lies. There is much more, and the BBC is skilled at inserting important nuances. As a lonely individual in an ocean of lies, it is impossible to keep up.

Here are a few fragments of its recent output.

a.

Dear Mr Landale, 8-02-19

I saw you speak on the BBC1 evening news about 4 days ago. Venezuela, in spite of its vast mineral wealth, has been destabilized. Corruption by the rich and perhaps poor governance are two factors, but another are the sanctions installed in 2015 by the USA against international law. We know the latter is worse than hollow.  I do not know whether other countries have been strong armed in collaborating with these sanctions as with Iran.

I believe you did not mention sanctions in your piece.  BBC coverage of this country in these last few weeks has been unbalanced.  Will Grant in Cuba does better. (Ed. He does not it seems)

yours sincerely David Halpin FRCS

No reply

b.

Malaysia’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, said the country stood by its decision to bar Israeli athletes.

“If hosting an international sporting event is more important than standing up for our Palestinian brothers and sisters who get murdered, maimed and tortured by the Netanyahu regime, that means Malaysia has truly lost its moral compass,” he said in a statement. (3)

The British State Broadcaster could not say these truths to the millions. No coverage by the BBC.

c.

Chris Mason

Chris Mason (image on the right, from his twitter account), a BBC Westminster correspondent is engaging. He was speaking of the critical reaction to the loss of Shamima Begum’s third baby in a refugee camp in Syria. She had gone to live with the ‘jihadis’ at age 15 with two girlfriends. Home Secretary Sajid Javid had stripped British citizenship from her. (It emerged he had done the same to two other women previously.)

He failed to say that the UK had supported some of these super-terrorists who came from outside Syria. The PM and the then Foreign Secretary had both stated their intention of ‘toppling Assad’. The aim of this proxy destruction of an ancient country was clear. So their shunning of this young woman and her three dead babies was a montrous hypocrisy. The BBC did its duty and joined in. And massaged it further by speaking of the UK giving £170 million ‘to Syria’.

At another time it reported that a UK government spokesman said the death of any child was “tragic and deeply distressing for the family”. As it was to the hundreds of dear children and their mothers who fleeing from the manufactured war drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. Or those that were blown apart or maimed by the ‘jihadis’ as ordered by Saudi Arabia and its slaves to money.

The BBC pumped out massive black propaganda to justify the illegal wars on Iraq and Libya, and continues to distort completely the maelstrom of suffering and destruction brought by plan to Syria. The journalist, Robert Stuart, ‘contended that sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a nearby school are largely, if not entirely, staged.’ His evidence is here. (4)

The BBC distracts with much ‘entertainment’, including sport, and now has trailers with fast changing mindless images. It appears to be attempting to further shrink thought and morality. The other night at a Comic Relief show in a theatre with a largely female audience, three naked men were on the stage. They kept swapping balloons from their chests to genitalia, and turned to present their ugly backsides to a largely embarassed audience.

There are peerless BBC programmes. Among them are Countryfile, which centres on farming and the beauty of the British Isles, and Call the Midwife. This recalled the caring spirit and the energy of the young NHS. Within its ranks there are moral, imaginative and very talented people. But they cannot have much influence on the output.

The ether is dominated by the psychopath with talk of endless aggressive war including sanctions, as with the collective, long and increasing punishment of two million people in Gaza.

Please someone, take Bolton and show him a tight flower bud in midwinter and later as it emerges in all its beauty and intricacy. Take Trump, alone, and see the mother suckling her tiny baby. An ultimate symbol of peace.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

David Halpin FRCS is a retired orthopaedic and trauma surgeon who yearns for peace and especially in Palestine. He has also spent much time, with a few others, pleading for an inquest on Dr David Kelly, which uniquely has never happened. The NHS is his other major concern. His woodlands that he planted give some peace.

Notes

1. http://members5.boardhost.com/xxxxx/msg/1552205009.html Bolton given “Defender of Israel” award from Zionist lobby that helped elect him

2. http://www.minddisorders.com/Flu-Inv/Hare-Psychopathy-Checklist.html

3. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sport/paralympics-malaysia-stripped-of-right-to-host-world-11172762

4. https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/bbc-trust-no-evidence-that-presenters-facebook-images-brought-bbc-into-disrepute/

Featured image is from Media Lens

Source of pro-israel (apartheid state) guerrilla warriors on social media exposed

Source of pro-Israel Guerrilla Warriors on Social Media Exposed
By Nasim Ahmed

In this photo illustration, The Twitter logo is displayed on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 in this arranged photograph on September 25, 2016 in Paris, France (Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

A number of prominent Jewish-American leaders are funding covert, anonymous campaigns targeting pro-Palestinian student activists, The Forward has found. The Jewish daily newspaper, which has been publishing valuable information concerning the source of funding for these hyper-aggressive and shadowy groups – which spearhead coordinated hate campaigns against critics of the Zionist state – has uncovered the identities of those behind hidden social media accounts.

Community heads and prominent Jewish organisations with a carefully-crafted, respectable public profile have donated millions to fund secret projects targeting students and lecturers, the report has found. On a number of occasions, their blind support for Israel has seen them bankroll far-right and anti-Muslim hate groups.

The latest pro-Israeli group to be exposed by The Forward is the campaign targeting the pro-Palestinian campus network Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). SJP is said to be the most well-known advocate of the Palestinian cause on US campuses. It has been the target of a pro-Israel group known as SJP Uncovered, which anonymously attacks student activists affiliated with SJP across the country. With more than 100,000 followers on Facebook, SJP Uncovered has gone after pro-Palestinian students by maintaining a veil of anonymity that is said to be all-but impenetrable.

Until now, the source of funding for SJP Uncovered had been a mystery. The Forward has now been able to shed light on the organisation to reveal that the site is a secret project of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), a Washington DC-based pro-Israel organisation tied to most mainstream funders and organisations in the Jewish community.

On its official website, the ICC says that its vision is to create a campus environment where “dialogue and ideas are freely exchanged about Israel”. Publicly, the ICC presents a respectable face typical of nearly all pro-Israeli groups, but privately it is funding one of the most aggressive and shadowy student groups responsible for hateful campaigns against critics of the Zionist state. The Forward revealed that the ICC paid over $1 million in the 2016/2017 fiscal year to SJP Uncovered, in that time also running vicious campaigns against students with the aid of political consulting firms.

Until around 2014, the ICC is said to have been a standard pro-Israel advocacy group receiving donations from the largest and most mainstream Jewish-American foundations. In 2015, its operations changed to “covert, anonymous campaigns targeting pro-Palestinian student activists, often with the help of top-tier paid professional political consultants,” according to the investigative report.

Describing the change in focus, one former pro-Israeli campus official said: “It was clear that the old way of doing business […] was not making the cut, and was not enough, and there was a totally new offensive approach to things.” He added:

The overall framing was [that] the pro-Israel community is no longer going to sit back and let things happen, they are going to go on the offense […] It was very clear that going on the offensive to them meant going after students and the organizations that were bringing BDS.

With the change in emphasis in 2015 towards more aggressive campaigns, the ICC began hiring paid political consultants – including opposition researchers – to work on campuses. It transformed itself into a cog in what is often described as Israel’s secret global war against pro-Palestinian activists, which is operated by a dedicated ministry in Tel Aviv known as the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Its main function is to spearhead Israel’s overt and covert efforts to smear the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is modelled on the global campaign that helped end Apartheid in South Africa. In November, the Electronic Intifada published in full an undercover Al Jazeera documentary that revealed some of the ministry’s tactics. The documentary was censored, allegedly after Israel lobby pressure on Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera.

SJP Uncovered is one of many pro-Israel organisations to emerge from a new consensus within sections of the Jewish-American community. They believed that defeating the global BDS movement was a key priority, which could only be achieved through aggressive means. Such tactics, however, not only risked falling foul of the rules of respectable public institutions, it was bad for their image.  The solution for Zionist and pro-Israel groups, both in the US and Israel, was to adopt secretive and clandestine tactics against their targets in an effort to protect their reputation. One of the best known of these operations is the formerly-anonymous website Canary Mission, which posts political dossiers on college students. The site went live in 2015, and has since grown to include dossiers on thousands of students.

A series of Forward exposés in October revealed that a foundation controlled by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, a major Jewish charity with an annual budget of over $100 million, had donated $100,000 to the website, whose work has drawn comparisons to a McCarthyite blacklist. An Haaretz profile of the Canary Mission found that, for three years, the website had spread fear among undergraduate activists by posting more than a thousand political dossiers on student supporters of Palestinian rights. At the same time, the website had gone to great lengths to hide the digital and financial trail connecting it to its donors and staff. Registered through a secrecy service, the site had been untraceable until recently.

While the federation had assured that it was a “one-time grant” that would never happen again, the uncovering of a publicly respectable pro-Israel organisations giving funds to operate clandestine hate campaigns against pro-Palestinian activists triggered further investigations. The Canary Mission was just the tip of the iceberg, as tax filings seen by the magazine +972 showed that there was a pattern of systemic financing of radical right-wing and anti-Muslim groups.

Why was 2015 pivotal to this shift in strategy? Jewish leaders in the US, says Forward reporter Josh Nathan-Kazis, decided to spend significant communal resources attacking college students in that year because there was a coming-together of Israel’s spy culture and Jewish-American mega donors like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban. Both felt that the work being carried out by mainstream Jewish organisations was unsatisfactory. Wanting to shift the entire tenor of the Jewish communal approach to fighting anti-Semitism and BDS, major Jewish organisations were called to a secret meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

During this 2015 meeting, there was a consensus for a push towards more aggressive responses to BDS. A new initiative, named after Jewish guerrilla warriors Maccabees, was formed. On its website, the Maccabee taskforce – which claims that the BDS movement is spreading anti-Semitism across the world – says it is “determined to help students combat this hate by bringing them the strategies and resources they need to tell the truth about Israel”.

Strategies developed by Israeli think tanks like the Reut Institute became the playbook for the aggressive tactics that is said to have come into maturity during that period. These tactics, Nathan-Kazis explains, called for pro-Israel advocates to “out, name and shame” harsh critics of Israel, and to “frame them […] as anti-peace, anti-Semitic, or dishonest purveyors of double standards”. They talked about “establishing a ‘price tag’” for attacks on Israel and “isolating” advocacy groups that attack Israel, while “organizing regular meetings of pro-Israel networks”.

This article was originally published by MEMO” –

Turkey Tells US They Have Video That Proves Khashoggi Was Killed

Local Editor

The Turkish government has informed US officials it has audio and video recordings that prove that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, according to a report by the Washington Post.

The video and audio recording reportedly show that Saudi Consulate security team detained Jamal Khashoggi after he entered the building on October 2 to obtain some documents for his upcoming wedding, and then killed him and dismembered his body.

According to US and Turkish officials cited by the Washington Post, the audio recordings in particular provide “persuasive and gruesome” evidence that the Saudi security is responsible for the journalist’s death.

“The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,” said one source with knowledge of the recording.

“You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” the source added. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”

The other person quoted by Washington Post says the recording proves Khashoggi was beaten by the Saudis.

The existence of these recordings explain why Turkish officials were so fast to accuse Saudis of killing the journalists, the newspaper reads. However, Ankara is reluctant to release these recordings as it would reveal the ways Turkish intelligence spies upon foreign nations on its soil, the source said.

Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, known for his criticism of Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed, has been missing since October 2 after allegedly visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to acquire documentation for his upcoming marriage. The Saudis denied allegations that the journalist has been captured or murdered and insisted he left the building later the same day.

In the meantime, media companies are pulling out of Saudi investment conference over the growing outrage of Khashoggi disappearance, Reuters reported Thursday. Journalists and executives of various major media companies, including New York Times, CNBC, Economist and Viacom have already announced their decision not to attend the event. The Financial Times reportedly announced it is reviewing its involvement as a media partner.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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Omidyar’s Intercept Teams Up with War-Propaganda Firm #Bellingcat

Omidyar’s Intercept Teams Up with War-Propaganda Firm Bellingcat

Despite promoting itself as an “independent” and open-source investigation site, Bellingcat has received a significant portion of its funding from Google, which is also one of the most powerful U.S. military contractors and whose rise to prominence was directly aided by the CIA.

NEW YORK — The Intercept, along with its parent company First Look Media, recently hosted a workshop for pro-war, Google-funded organization Bellingcat in New York. The workshop, which cost $2,500 per person to attend and lasted five days, aimed to instruct participants in how to perform investigations using “open source” tools — with Bellingcat’s past, controversial investigations for use as case studies. The exact details of what occurred during the workshop have not been made public and Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins declined to elaborate on the workshop when pressed on social media.The decision on the part of The Intercept is particularly troubling given that the publication has long been associated with the track records of its founding members, such as Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald, who have long been promoted as important “progressive” and “anti-war” voices in the U.S. media landscape.

Greenwald publicly distanced himself from the decision to host the workshop, stating on Twitter that he was not involved in making that decision and that — if he had been — it was not one “that I would have made.” However, he stopped short of condemning the decision.

Bellingcat’s open support for foreign military intervention and tendency to promote NATO/U.S. war propaganda are unsurprising when one considers how the group is funded and the groups with which it regularly collaborates.

For instance, Bellingcat regularly works with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which – according to the late journalist Robert Parry – “engages in ‘investigative journalism’ that usually goes after governments that have fallen into disfavor with the United States and then are singled out for accusations of corruption.” OCCRP is notably funded by USAID and the controversial George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations.

In addition, Bellingcat’s founder Eliot Higgins is employed by the Atlantic Council, which is partially funded by the U.S. State Department, NATO and U.S. weapons manufacturers. It should come as little surprise then that the results of Bellingcat’s “findings” often fit neatly with narratives promoted by NATO and the U.S. government despite their poor track record in terms of accuracy.

Bellingcat’s funding is even more telling than its professional associations. Indeed, despite promoting itself as an “independent” and open-source investigation site, Bellingcat has received a significant portion of its funding from Google, which is also one of the most powerful U.S. military contractors and whose rise to prominence was directly aided by the CIA.

Google has also been actively promoting regime change in countries like Syria, a policy that Bellingcat also promotes. As one example, leaked emails between Jared Cohen, former director of Google Ideas (now Jigsaw), and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed that Google developed software aimed at assisting al-Qaeda and other Syrian opposition groups in boosting their ranks. Furthermore, Cohen was once described by Stratfor intelligence analysts as a “loose cannon” for his deep involvement in Middle Eastern regime-change efforts.

Under President Donald Trump, Google’s connections to the U.S. government have become even more powerful, as the current Trump-appointed Director of National Intelligence once worked as a corporate lobbyist for Google.

 

Synergy in the service of empire

Given the clear alliances between Bellingcat and the military-industrial complex, The Intercept’s decision to host a Bellingcat workshop in its New York offices may seem surprising. However, The Intercept has long promoted Bellingcat in its written work and its parent company has actually been associated with Bellingcat since 2015.

Indeed, Google-owned YouTube announced in 2015 the formation of the “First Draft coalition,” which nominally sought to bring “together a group of thought leaders and pioneers in social media journalism to create educational resources on how to verify eyewitness media.” That coalition united Bellingcat with the now-defunct Reported.ly – another venture of The Intercept’s parent company, First Look Media.

In the years since, The Intercept has repeatedly promoted Bellingcat in its articles, having called the Atlantic Council-connected, Google-funded group “a reputable U.K.-based organization devoted to analyzing images coming out of conflict zones.” Furthermore, prior to the recent workshop in late September between The Intercept and Bellingcat, both jointly participated in another workshop hosted in London earlier this year in April.

 

 

Omidyar’s connections

In addition, the Intercept’s main funder – eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar – shares innumerable connections to the U.S. government and has helped fund regime-change operations abroad in the past, suggesting a likely reason behind the publication’s willingness to associate itself with Bellingcat.

For instance, Omidyar made more visits to the Obama White House between 2009 and 2013 than Google’s Eric Schmidt, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. He also donated $30 million to the Clinton global initiative and directly co-invested with the State Department — funding groups, some of them overtly fascist, that worked to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014.

Even after Obama left office, Omidyar has continued to fund USAID, particularly its overseas program aimed at “advancing U.S. national security interests” abroad. Omidyar’s Ulupono Initiative also cosponsors one of the Pentagon’s most important contractor expos, a direct link between Omidyar initiatives and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

Such promotion of the regime-change wars has been reflected in reporting done at The Intercept, particularly in regards to Syria. Indeed, Intercept writers covering Syria frequently promote Syrian “rebels” and the opposition while also promoting pro-regime-change talking points.

Another former Intercept contributor and now Intercept “fact checker,” Mariam Elba, wrote a poorly researched article that sought to link the Syrian government to U.S. white nationalists, claiming that the Syrian government sought to “homogenize” the country despite its support for religious and ethnic minorities in stark contrast to the Syrian opposition. Notably, Elba recently praised the Intercept/Bellingcat workshop, which she had attended.

If that weren’t enough, last year the paper hired Maryam Saleh, a journalist who has called Shia Muslims “dogs” and has taken to Twitter in the past to downplay the role of the U.S. coalition in airstrikes in Syria. Saleh also has ties to the U.S.-financed propaganda group Kafranbel Media Center, which also has close relations with the terrorist group Ahrar al-Sham.

Furthermore, MintPress noted last year that The Intercept had withheld a key document from the Edward Snowden cache proving the Syrian opposition was taking marching orders from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Intercept published that document only after the U.S. State Department itself began to report more honestly on the nature of these so-called “rebels,” even though The Intercept had had that document in its possession since 2013.

Even “anti-interventionist” Intercept journalists like Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald have
come under fire this past year for allegedly promoting inaccurate statements that supported pro-regime-change narratives in Syria, particularly in regards to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma. That attack is now widely believed to have been staged by the White Helmets.

Thus, while The Intercept has long publicly promoted itself as an anti-interventionist and progressive media outlet, it is becoming clearer that – largely thanks to its ties to Omidyar – it is increasingly an organization that has more in common with Bellingcat, a group that launders NATO and U.S. propaganda and disguises it as “independent” and “investigative journalism.”

Author’s Note | John Helsby contributed research, particularly in regards to social media, to this report.

Editors Note: After objection from Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins, this story was updated to read: “The exact details of what occurred during the workshop have not been made public”, This was updated from the original: “The details of the workshop have not been made public” as Higgins interpreted this to mean details made prior to the event. MintPress was well aware of the pre-event details that were made public prior to the workshop, such as cost to attend, date and location as a link that the announcement of those details can be found in the second sentence of the article, which remains unchanged.

Top Photo | Bana Alabed promotes Bellingcat at an event put on by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. Photo | Twitter

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

When Sayyed Nasrallah Deeply Impacts The “Israeli” Consciousness

Yasser Rahal

“The warrior should be wakeful because if he sleeps the enemy does not sleep.” This is advice from Imam Ali (PBUH) gave. Hezbollah’s secretary general memorized it well. He uses it to advise others and repeats it during every Zionist threat to Lebanon.

The “Israeli” media knows exactly what these words mean. It knows that Sayyed is a meticulous follower of the Zionist entity’s news. From time to time, it acknowledges Sayyed’s superiority in terms of the media and psychological warfare that stems from facts rather than illusions. On more than one occasion, the Israeli media recognized the accuracy and quality of the follow-up and translation of the resistance’s media of everything that is published in the usurping entity in an attempt to expose it to the public.

A week ago, Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz, in a piece titled Nasrallah’s Propaganda that

“in a speech at the end of last week (the liberation of the Jroud speech), Nasrallah quoted Brick’s criticism of the “Israeli” army’s performance. He also mentioned Yaniv Kuovich’s ’s article which he published here regarding a 40 percent increase in the percentage of soldiers visiting psychiatric clinics in the army.”

Harel refers back to Sayyed Nasrallah’s famous “Spider Web” speech on the entity and its media when he delivered it in Bent Jbeil in 2000. It still resonates until today.

“Nasrallah’s firm hypothesis is based on the most famous speech, the ‘Spider Web’ speech in Bint Jbeil immediately after the end of the “Israeli” army’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000: the “Israeli” society is weak and pressured. If the Arabs knew how to act against “Israel” with determination and strength, they would be able to demand more concessions.”

We continue with the enemy’s media and “Sayyed’s” impact on it. Channel 10 remarked that “Nasrallah is a brilliant and very clever speaker who did not make a lot of mistakes in analyzing the weaknesses of the “Israeli” society.”

In an interview with the Arab affairs correspondent, Zvi Yehezkeli, the presenter said (while analyzing the second liberation anniversary speech):

“If Nasrallah were not on the side of the ‘bad guys’, we would have said that he was a brilliant speaker and a very intelligent man. In a speech he delivered yesterday, he analyzed the weaknesses of the “Israeli” army and did not made a mistake.”

Yehezkeli replied,

“I agree that Nasrallah is a brilliant speaker in the Arab world. But regarding the content, I see it a bit differently. Nasrallah’s speech reminds us of the speech of the ‘Spider Web’.”

Take note of the choice of the Bint Jbeil speech. Some compared him to Gamal Abdel Nasser for his brilliance in speechmaking. He spoke about the weak society or what he called in 2006 prior to the war as the “Espresso Society”. This description was still present in Yehezkeli’s mind after 12 years. He said that the “Espresso Society” will not go to war for the two captured soldiers. He also said this in a press conference on the day of their capture. The “Espresso Society” went to war. It did not go the way it was planned. It was an implicit recognition of defeat. Once again he says this while speaking about defeatism. I agree with him on this angle at least when he enumerates “Israel’s” failures by saying, “the invincible army may not be the only description for “Israel”.” Then came the recognition that the army is not fit to represent the defeated entity.

“What impressed me is his very modern knowledge of the “Israeli” press. There is someone who reads things to him very carefully, analyzes them very intelligently and never makes mistakes when he points out the weaknesses in “Israeli” society,” the presenter added.

Yehezkeli: There are those who say that the “Israeli” office in Hezbollah is Nasrallah himself. He does not allow others to read it. He sits and reads. In an interview he spoke about how long it takes him to read the “Israeli” press and the “Israeli” society. He is a person whose goal is to analyze things in society that have not been analyzed before. He also has intelligence capabilities. However, he still reads the press, quoting newspapers such as Haaretz, Yedioth Ahronoth as well as opinion polls, analyses, analysts and experts. But he does not know Hebrew.

This was recognition of Sayyed familiarity with the nature of the Zionist society and its weaknesses. It also praised the monitoring and the Hebrew-to-Arabic translation team. This is not the first time that the enemy’s media deals with the quality, experience and accuracy of the abilities of the resistance’s media to keep track of the Zionist entity. A few years ago before the Zionist withdrawal and the humiliating defeat of the “invincible” army, a media specialist conducted a comparative study between the resistance’s media and the enemy’s one. In it they looked at details including the quality of the paper used by the resistance’s media and the nature of the technical production and covers designs. It concluded that the resistance’s media excelled past that of the enemy. We continue with the presenter when he asks about the fear of death complex gripping the families of the occupation soldiers:

“When he said in this speech that the “Israeli” elite wanted to send their children to the 8200 [cyber warfare] unit and less to the front. He recognized something … (signs of admiration and astonishment on the face of the presenter).”

Here, we pause at the surprise that occurred in the war on Syria, where the number of participants among the ranks of the resistance doubled. Reports were made by families who were insisting to send their children to the battlefronts. Here, we discover the reason behind the admiration and astonishment of the presenter. The resistance’s society does not fear death, especially when martyrdom is one of two choices, victory being the first. This was in contrary to the enemy’s society where the fear of death makes families want to send their son to work behind a desk.

Attempting to create a fabricated picture of the truth Yehezkeli concludes:

“Certainly, I think what he said is part of psychological warfare that shows distress ahead of the next confrontation.”

“But nevertheless, he certainly brought something painful to our stomachs.”

He ends the interview with a passage from Sayyed Nasrallah’s speech about the soldiers seeing psychiatrists.

The speech on the anniversary of the Second Liberation Day opened a deep wound. It was painful for the enemy. It reopened an old wound, which is the May 25, 2000 [“Israeli”] withdrawal from Lebanon.

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Are the mainstream U.S. ‘news’ media evil?

Source

By Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog — August 15, 2018

US media

William Binney, the U.S. National Security Agency’s former technical director for global analysis, has, for the past year, been globe-trotting to investigate the actual evidence regarding the official Russiagate investigations, and he finds that the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, who is prosecuting Russia’s Government, can only accuse Russian officials, not convict any of them on at least the important charges, because conclusive evidence exists and has already been made public online, making clear that the important accusations against those officials are false. However, Binney can’t get any of the U.S. major ‘news’ media’s interest in this fact, nor even into openly discussing it with them. Apparently, they don’t want to know. Binney is knocking on their doors, and they refuse to answer.

Patrick Lawrence, at the non-mainstream U.S. news medium Consortium News, headlined on Monday August 13th, “‘Too Big to Fail’: Russia-gate One Year After VIPS Showed a Leak, Not a Hack and he reported what Binney has found and has been trying to get the major U.S. ‘news’ media to present to the American public.

The “VIPS” there is Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, and they are 17 whistleblowing former high officials of the CIA, NSA, State Department, and other U.S. officials with top-secret national-security clearances, who jointly signed and published on 24 July 2017, their report, which likewise was at Consortium News, Intel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence”, in which they confirmed the validity of a 9 July 2017 report that had been published by Elizabeth Vos of Disobedient Media . com, which was titled New Research Shows Guccifer 2.0 Files Were Copied Locally, Not Hacked and which I then reported in more ordinary language seven days later under the headline “Russiagate Exposed: It’s a Fraud”. I quoted there the analysis’s basic finding “that the DNC computer network which the media tells us and the DNC tells us was hacked by the Russians, … was physically accessed by someone within close proximity of the DNC” and not outside the United States (Russia or anywhere else). The original research-report had been done by an anonymous person who called himself “the forensicator,” and he had sent it to Adam Carter, another highly technically knowledgeable person, who happened to be at Disobedient Media, and who then worked with Vos to prepare her article on it.

Binney, as the nation’s now-retired top NSA expert in the analysis of such matters, then followed up, during the past year, in order to probe more deeply, by contacting various individuals who had been involved behind the scenes; and Patrick Lawrence’s article was a report of what Binney had found. It’s this:

The forensic scientists working with VIPS continued their research and experiments after VIPS50 was published. So have key members of the VIPS group, notably William Binney, the National Security Agency’s former technical director for global analysis and designer of programs the agency still uses to monitor internet traffic. Such work continues as we speak, indeed. This was always the intent: “Evidence to date” was the premise of VIPS50. Over the past year there have been confirmations of the original thesis and some surprises that alter secondary aspects of it. Let us look at the most significant of these findings.

At the time I reported on the findings of VIPS and associated forensic scientists, that the most fundamental evidence that the events of summer 2016 constituted a leak, not a hack, was the transfer rate—the speed at which data was copied. The speed proven then was an average of 22.7 megabytes per second. …

The fastest internet transfer speed achieved, during the New Jersey–to–Britain test, was 12.0 megabytes of data per second. Since this time it has emerged from G-2.0’s metadata that the detected average speed—the 22.7 megabytes per second—included peak speeds that ran as high as 49.1 megabytes per second, impossible over the internet. “You’d need a dedicated, leased, 400–megabit line all the way to Russia to achieve that result,” Binney said in a recent interview. … That remains the bedrock evidence of the case VIPS and others advance without qualification. “No one—including the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA—has come out against this finding,” Binney said Monday. …

The identity of Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be a Romanian hacker but which the latest Mueller indictment claims is a construct of the GRU, Russian military intelligence, has never been proven. The question is what G–2.0 did with or to the data in question. It turns out that both more, and less, is known about G–2.0 than was thought to have been previously demonstrated. This work has been completed only recently. It was done by Binney in collaboration with Duncan Campbell, a British journalist who has followed the Russia-gate question closely.

Peak Speed Established

Binney visited Campbell in Brighton, England, early this past spring. They examined all the metadata associated with the files G–2.0 has made public. They looked at the number of files, the size of each, and the time stamps at the end of each. It was at this time that Binney and Campbell established the peak transfer rate at 49.1 megabytes per second. … “Now you need to prove everything you might think about him,” Binney told me. “We have no way of knowing anything about him or what he has done, apart from manipulating the files. …

The conclusions initially drawn on time and location in VIPS50 are now subject to these recent discoveries. “In retrospect, giving ‘equal importance’ status to data pertaining to the locale was mistaken,” Ray McGovern, a prominent VIPS member, wrote in a recent note. “The key finding on transfer speed always dwarfed it in importance.” … 

How credible are those indictments in view of what is now known about G–2.0?

Binney told me: “Once we proved G–2.0 is a fabrication and a manipulator, the timing and location questions couldn’t be answered but really didn’t matter. I don’t right now see a way of absolutely proving either time or location. But this doesn’t change anything. We know what we know: The intrusion into the Democratic National Committee mail was a local download—wherever ‘local’ is.” That doesn’t change. As to Rosenstein, he’ll have a lot to prove.”

However, yet another technically knowledgeable analyst of the available evidence, George Eliason, claims that to assert that there were only “leaks” and not also “hacks” would clearly be wrong because there were both. On August 14th, he bannered at Washington’s Blog, Beyond The DNC Leak: Hacks and Treason and he wrote:

There were multiple DNC hacks. There is also clear proof supporting the download to a USB stick and subsequent information exchange (leak) to Wikileaks. All are separate events.

Here’s what’s different in the information I’ve compiled.

The group I previously identified as Fancy Bear was given access to request password privileges at the DNC. And it looks like the DNC provided them with it.

I’ll show why the Podesta email hack looks like a revenge hack.

The reason Republican opposition research files were stolen can be put into context now because we know who the hackers are and what motivates them.

At the same time this story developed, it overshadowed the Hillary Clinton email scandal. It is a matter of public record that Team Clinton provided the DNC hackers with passwords to State Department servers on at least 2 occasions, one wittingly and one not. I have already clearly shown the Fancy Bear hackers are Ukrainian Intelligence Operators.

This gives some credence to the Seth Rich leak (DNC leak story) as an act of patriotism. If the leak came through Seth Rich, it may have been because he saw foreign Intel operatives given this access from the presumed winners of the 2016 US presidential election. No political operative is going to argue with the presumed president-elect over foreign policy. The leaker may have been trying to do something about it. I’m curious what information Wikileaks might have.

Eliason’s analysis doesn’t support Robert Mueller’s indictments any more than the others do. All are essentially incompatible with the accusations (including ones which now have become also indictments) from Mueller. Moreover, as Patrick Lawrence noted, “Indictments are not evidence and do not need to contain evidence. That is supposed to come out at trial, which is very unlikely to ever happen. Nevertheless, the corporate media has treated the indictments as convictions.” Maybe that’s the biggest crime of all.

—————
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Source

israel’s Online Shadow Operations

Israel’s Online Shadow Operations

Numerous well funded, organized projects by and for Israel work to flood social media with pro-Israel propaganda, while blocking facts Israel dislikes. The projects utilize Israeli soldiers, students, American teens and others, and range from infiltrating Wikipedia to influencing YouTube. Some operate out of Jewish Community Centers in the U.S.

Another project to do battle on the Internet was initiated in 2011 by the 300,000-strong National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS). The goal was “to deepen and expand hasbara [state propaganda] activities of students in the State of Israel.”

Under this program, Israeli students are paid $2,000 to work five hours per week to “lead the battle against hostile websites.”

An announcement for the program (translated here into English) noted that “many students in Israel master the Internet and are proficient at using the Internet and social networking and various sites and are required to write and express themselves in English.” Students can work from the comfort of their own homes, points out the announcement.

“Students work in four teams: Content, Wikipedia, Monitoring and New Media,” according to the program description. It details the responsibilities for each team:

The content team is responsible for creating original content in a news format.

The monitoring team is responsible for “monitoring efforts while reporting and removing anti-Semitic [sic] content from social networks in a variety of languages.” (The program conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism; see below.)

The New Media team is responsible for social media channels, “including Facebook accounts in English, French and Portuguese, Twitter, YouTube channels, and so on.”

The Wikipedia team is “responsible for writing new entries and translating them into languages that operate in the program, updating the values of current and relevant information, tracking and preventing bias in the program’s areas of activity.”

This program sometimes claims it is working against antisemitism, but it conflates antisemitism with criticism of the state of Israel. This is in line with an Israel-backed initiative to legally define “antisemitism” to include discussing negative facts about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.

 

The campaign to infiltrate Wikipedia

Several years ago, another project came to light that targeted Wikipedia. While manipulating Wikipedia entries doesn’t directly impact YouTube, it provides a window into some of these efforts to manipulate online content.

A 2008 exposé in the Electronic Intifada revealed: “A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia.”

While it is common and appropriate for individuals to edit Wikipedia entries to add factual information and remove inaccurate statements, this project was the antithesis of such editing. As EI, reported, its purpose was “to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged.”

Author Ali Abunimah reported that a source had provided EI with a series of emails from members and associates of the pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) that showed the group “was engaged in what one activist termed a ‘war’ on Wikipedia.”

CAMERA Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini organized a project to infiltrate Wikipedia<img class=”size-full wp-image-238672″ src=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SvS3uB_g.jpg” alt=”CAMERA Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini organized a project to infiltrate Wikipedia” width=”512″ height=”512″ srcset=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SvS3uB_g.jpg 512w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SvS3uB_g-150×150.jpg 150w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/SvS3uB_g-300×300.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 512px) 100vw, 512px” />

CAMERA Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini organized a project to infiltrate Wikipedia

CAMERA called for volunteers to secretly work on editing Wikipedia entries. It emphasized the importance of keeping the project secret. Volunteers were schooled in ways to elude detection. After they signed up as editors, they were to “avoid editing Israel-related articles for a short period of time.”

They were also told to “avoid, for obvious reasons, picking a username that marks you as pro-Israel, or that lets people know your real name.”

CAMERA also warned them: “Don’t forget to always log in… If you make changes while not logged in, Wikipedia will record your computer’s IP address.”

A Wikipedia editor known as Zeq helped in the effort, telling volunteers: “Edit articles at random, make friends not enemies—we will need them later on. This is a marathon not a sprint.” He emphasized the importance of secrecy: “You don’t want to be precived [sic] as a ‘CAMERA’ defender’ on Wikipedia that is for sure.”

Zeq recommended that they work with and learn from an independent, pro-Israel Wikipedia editor known as Jayjg, but directed them to keep the project secret even from him.

When this all came to light, Wikipedia took measures against such manipulation of its system and the CAMERA program may have ended.

If it did, others stepped into the breach. In 2010 two Israeli groups began offering a course in “Zionist editing” of Wikipedia entries. The aim was “to make sure that information in the online encyclopedia reflects the worldview of Zionist groups.” A course organizer explained that the use of the word “occupied” in Wikipedia entries “was just the kind of problem she hoped a new team of editors could help fix.”

Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper reported: “The organizers’ aim was twofold: to affect Israeli public opinion by having people who share their ideological viewpoint take part in writing and editing for the Hebrew version, and to write in English so Israel’s image can be bolstered abroad.”

There was to be a prize for the “Best Zionist Editor”—the person who over the next four years incorporated the most “Zionist” changes in the encyclopedia. The winner would receive a trip in a hot-air balloon over Israel.

Watch | Millionaire Naftali Bennett, a right-wing minister close to the settler movement, describes the program:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/wIYhE-hei2Y?rel=0&showinfo=0

The UK Guardian reports: “One Jerusalem-based Wikipedia editor, who doesn’t want to be named, said that publicising the initiative might not be such a good idea. ‘Going public in the past has had a bad effect,’ she says. ‘There is a war going on and unfortunately, the way to fight it has to be underground.’”

Again in 2013, there was evidence of pro-Israel tampering with Wikipedia. Israel’s Ha’aretz reported that a social-media employee of NGO Monitor edited articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an allegedly biased manner. “Draiman concealed the facts that he was an employee of NGO Monitor, often described as a right-wing group, and that he was using a second username, which is forbidden under Wikipedia’s rules,” according to the paper.

Such actions have had an impact. A website critical of Wikipedia said in 2014 that there were “almost ten times as many articles about murdered Israeli children as there are articles about murdered Palestinian children,” even though at least 10 times more Palestinian children had been killed.

The website also pointed out: “While editors like Zeq (TCL) and CltFn (TCL) may get banned in the end, the articles they started remain.”

If YouTube reviewers and others use Wikipedia in their determination about whether content should be removed or not, these efforts to censor Wikipedia could adversely affect their decisions.

 

Social Media Missions for Israel

Title image from Forward article about the Act.IL campaign.<img class=”size-full wp-image-238673″ src=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-07-10.27.43.png” alt=”Title image from Forward article about the Act.IL campaign.” width=”1024″ height=”422″ srcset=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-07-10.27.43.png 1024w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-07-10.27.43-300×124.png 300w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-07-10.27.43-768×317.png 768w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-07-10.27.43-800×330.png 800w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px” />

Image from Forward article about the Act.IL campaign.

In 2017 yet another project to target Internet platforms was launched. Known as Act.il, the project uses a software application that “leverages the power of communities to support Israel through organized online activity.”

The software is a joint venture of three groups: Israel’s IDC University; the Israeli American Council, which works to “organize and activate” the half million Israeli-Americans who live in the U.S.; and another American group called the Maccabee Task Force, created to combat the international boycott of Israel, which it terms “an anti-Semitic movement.” Maccabee says it is “laser focused on one core mission—to ensure that those who seek to delegitimize Israel and demonize the Jewish people are confronted, combatted and defeated.”

Image from Maccabee end of year report.<img class=”size-full wp-image-238674″ src=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/MaccabeeGraphic.png” alt=”Image from Maccabee end of year report.” width=”728″ height=”381″ srcset=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/MaccabeeGraphic.png 728w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/MaccabeeGraphic-300×157.png 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” />

Image from Maccabee end of year report.

In addition, the project is supported by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry and Israel’s intelligence community. Its CEO is an eight-year veteran of Israeli army intelligence.

Israel’s Jerusalem Post reports that Act.IL is “a wide-ranging grassroots campaign app that lets individuals combat BDS in the palm of their hand” or, as we will see, from public computers in the US.

“Act.IL is more than just an app,” the Post article explains. “It is a campaign that taps into the collective knowledge of IDC students who together speak 35 languages, hail from 86 countries and have connections to the pro-Israel community all over the world.”

The article claims: “A platform like Act.IL offers world Jewry an opportunity to fight for one thing the majority can rally behind: Israel.” (This ignores the fact that there are many Jewish individuals who oppose Israeli policies.)

Israel partisans around the world download the app, and then “in this virtual situation room of experts, they detect instances where Israel is being assailed online and they program the app to find missions that can be carried out with a push of a button.”

An organizer notes: “When you work together, with the same goals and values, you can be incredibly powerful in the social media landscape.”

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/2zbcEcSYcS8?rel=0&showinfo=0

Some missions ask users to report videos. Israeli government officials say that the Act.il app “is more effective than official government requests at getting those videos removed from online platforms.”

The project is led by former Israeli intelligence officers and has close ties to American casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Another funder is the Paul R. Singer Foundation, funded by the Republican hedge fund billionaire.

The Forward calls Act.IL a new entry into the “online propaganda war” that “has thousands of mostly U.S.-based volunteers who can be directed from Israel into a social media swarm.”

According to the Forward, “Its work so far offers a startling glimpse of how it could shape the online conversations about Israel without ever showing its hand.”

The Forward reports: “Act.il says that its app has 12,000 sign-ups so far, and 6,000 regular users. The users are located all over the world, though the majority of them appear to be in the United States. Users get ‘points’ for completed missions; top-ranked users complete five or six missions a day. Top users win prizes: a congratulatory letter from a government minister, or a doll of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister.”

<img class=”wp-image-9560 size-full” src=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?resize=498%2C347&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 498px) 100vw, 498px” srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?w=498&ssl=1 498w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?resize=300%2C209&ssl=1 300w” alt=”Photo of group that participated in Act.IL training” width=”498″ height=”347″ data-attachment-id=”9560″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/act-il-training-img/” data-orig-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?fit=498%2C347&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”498,347″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Act.IL training-img” data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?fit=300%2C209&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Act.IL-training-img.png?fit=498%2C347&ssl=1″ />

Act.IL’s CEO, a veteran Israeli army intelligence officer, said the Israeli military and its domestic intelligence service “‘request’ Act.il’s help in getting services like Facebook to remove specific videos that call for violence against Jews or Israelis.” This according to the Forward report.

The officer later tried to walk back his statement, “saying that the Shin Bet [intelligence service] and the army don’t request help on specific videos but are in regular informal contact with Act.il. He said that Act.il’s staff is largely made up of former Israeli intelligence officers.

 

Teens in American JCCs carry out missions assigned from Israel

The project recruits Jewish teens and adults and sometimes operates out of local Jewish community centers, the Forward says. The paper describes one example:
<img class=”size-full wp-image-238677″ src=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IAC.NJ-MediaRoom.jpg” alt=”New Jersey “Media Room,” a project of IAC New Jersey in partnership with Act.IL.” width=”460″ height=”330″ srcset=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IAC.NJ-MediaRoom.jpg 460w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/IAC.NJ-MediaRoom-300×215.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 460px) 100vw, 460px” />

“The dozen or so Israelis sitting around a conference table at a Jewish community center in Tenafly, New Jersey, on a recent Wednesday night didn’t look like the leading edge of a new Israeli government-linked crowdsourced online propaganda campaign.

“Tapping on laptops, the group of high school students and adult mentors completed social media ‘missions’ assigned out of a headquarters in Herzliya, Israel.”

In addition to the Tenafly “media room” another operates in Boston in cooperation with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. There are also regular Act.il advocacy-training sessions at The Frisch School, a Jewish day school in Paramas, New Jersey. Other media rooms are reportedly in the works, with one in Manhattan, hosted by The Paul R. Singer Foundation, scheduled to open soon.

The Forward reports: “In November, the Boston media room created a mission for the app that asked users to email a Boston-area church to complain about a screening there of a documentary that is critical of Israel. The proposed text of the email likens the screening of the film to the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, and calls the film’s narrator, Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, a ‘well-known anti-Semite.’”

 Boston Media Room <img class=”wp-image-9588 size-full” src=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?resize=728%2C485&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?w=762&ssl=1 762w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?resize=272%2C182&ssl=1 272w” alt=” Boston Media Room ” width=”728″ height=”485″ data-attachment-id=”9588″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/bostonmediaroom/” data-orig-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?fit=762%2C508&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”762,508″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”BostonMediaRoom” data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BostonMediaRoom.jpg?fit=728%2C485&ssl=1″ />

Photo of Boston Media Room published by Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, which states: “Media Room Ambassadors are students and adult mentors who are trained with the knowledge, skills, and tools to positively influence public discourse by developing pro-Israel social media campaigns.”

According to the Forward, Act.il also produces “pro-Israel web content that carries no logo. It distributes that content to other pro-Israel groups, including the Adelson-funded Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi and The Israel Project, which push them out on their own social media feeds.”The Forward predicts: “Initiatives in cyberspace seem likely to increase.”

<img class=”wp-image-9589 size-large” src=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=728%2C410&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=728%2C410&ssl=1 728w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=344%2C193&ssl=1 344w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=400%2C225&ssl=1 400w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?resize=180%2C100&ssl=1 180w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?w=1439&ssl=1 1439w” alt=”” width=”728″ height=”410″ data-attachment-id=”9589″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/screenshot-2018-03-08-06-28-15/” data-orig-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?fit=1439%2C810&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”1439,810″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Screenshot 2018-03-08 06.28.15″ data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-08-06.28.15.png?fit=728%2C410&ssl=1″ />

Screenshot from video promoting the project, posted on the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston website.

Israeli media report that the Israeli military “has begun scouring Jewish communities abroad for young computer prodigies” to recruit for its ranks.

An Israeli official described the process: “Our first order of business is to search Jewish communities abroad for teens who could qualify, Our representatives will then travel to the communities and begin the screening process there.”

 

Israeli Government Ministry backs secret online campaigns

<img class=”wp-image-9566 size-full” src=”https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?resize=700%2C467&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 700px) 100vw, 700px” srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?w=700&ssl=1 700w, https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?resize=272%2C182&ssl=1 272w” alt=”” width=”700″ height=”467″ data-attachment-id=”9566″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/sima-vaknin-gil/” data-orig-file=”https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?fit=700%2C467&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”700,467″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Sima Vaknin-Gil” data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Sima-Vaknin-Gil.jpeg?fit=700%2C467&ssl=1″ />

General Sima Vaknin-Gil told Israeli tech developers to “flood the Internet” with pro-Israel propaganda. As Israel’s Chief Censor, she said: ” “We censor information that is critical to our enemies, who have no capabilities like us, do not have a Jewish brain, and therefore our enemy relies to a large extent on open information…”

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, which is behind this and similar projects, has mobilized substantial resources for online activities.Israel’s Ynet news reports that the Ministry’s director “sees it as a war for all intents and purposes. ‘The delegitimization against the State of Israel can be curbed and contained through public diplomacy and soft tools,’ she says. ‘In order to win, however, we must use tricks and craftiness.’”

The director, General Sima Vaknin-Gil, told a forum of Israeli tech developers at a forum: “I want to create a community of fighters.” The objective is to “curb the activities of anti-Israel activists,” and “flood the Internet” with pro-Israel content.

<img class=”wp-image-238681″ src=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ChampionTower-e1520525181254.jpg” alt=”” width=”457″ height=”609″ srcset=”https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ChampionTower-e1520525181254.jpg 768w, https://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ChampionTower-e1520525181254-225×300.jpg 225w” sizes=”(max-width: 457px) 100vw, 457px” />

The 29th floor of Tel Aviv’s Champion Tower is the nerve center of a 24-7 ‘war’ in which Israeli agents working behind the scenes advance U.S. legislation, torpedo events, organize counter-protests, & close bank accounts.. The Director says: ‘In order to win we must use tricks and craftiness.’

An Israeli report in December stated that the ministry has acquired a budget of roughly $70 million to “stand at the forefront of the battle against delegitimization, adopting methods from the fields of intelligence and technology. There is a reason why ministry officials define it as ‘a war on consciousness terrorism.’” [‘Delegitimization’ is a common Israeli term for criticism of Israel. See here for a discussion of the term.]

Ha’aretz article reports: “The Strategic Affairs Ministry’s leaders see themselves as the heads of a commando unit, gathering and disseminating information about ‘supporters of the delegitimization of Israel’—and they prefer their actions be kept secret.”

The article reports that the Ministry includes a job role entitled “Senior official—new-media realm,” responsible for surveillance and activities “in the digital realm.”

This individual head is responsible for analyzing social media and formulating a social media campaign against sites and activists who are deemed a threat to Israel.

Among the job’s responsibilities are:

Analysis of the world of social media, in terms of content, technology and network structure, emphasizing centers of gravity and focuses of influence, methods, messages, organizations, sites and key activists, studying their characteristics, areas, realms and key patterns of activities of the rival campaign and formulating a strategy for an awareness campaign against them in this realm and managing crises on social media. That is, surveilling of activities mainly in the digital arena.”

Officials at the ministry are charged with “construction and promotion of creative and suitable programs for new media.”

The unit works to keep its activities secret from the public. For example, a program to train young Israelis for activities on social media was exempted from publishing a public bid for funding. Similarly, the ministry’s special unit against delegitimization, “Hama’aracha” (The Battle), is excluded from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law.

Its activities reportedly include a “24/7 operations room monitoring all the delegitimization activities against Israel: Protests, conferences, publications calling for an anti-Israel boycott and international bodies’ boycott initiatives. The operations room will transfer the information to the relevant people to provide a proper response to these activities, whether through a counter-protest or through moves to thwart the initiative behind the scenes.”

Other programs include a 22-million-shekel project to work among labor unions and professional associations abroad “to root out the ability of BDS entities to influence the unions,” and a 16-million-shekel program focused on student activities throughout the world.

 

Israel’s UNIT 8200

<img class=”wp-image-9592 size-full” src=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?resize=678%2C326&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 678px) 100vw, 678px” srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?w=678&ssl=1 678w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?resize=300%2C144&ssl=1 300w” alt=”” width=”678″ height=”326″ data-attachment-id=”9592″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/unit8200/” data-orig-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?fit=678%2C326&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”678,326″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Unit8200″ data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?fit=300%2C144&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Unit8200.jpg?fit=678%2C326&ssl=1″ />

Photo from article about Unit 8200 on Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre website.

Another Israeli entity that plays a role in covert Internet activity is the Israeli military’s legendary high-tech spy branch, Unit 8200. This unit is composed of thousands of “cyber warriors” primarily 18 to 21 years of age; some even younger. A number of its graduates have gone on to top positions at tech companies operating in the U.S., such as Check Point Software (where the spouse of the Jewish Voice for Peace head is employed as a solutions architect).

In 2015 Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced plans “to establish a special command to combat anti-Israel incitement on social media.” The command would operate under the foreign ministry’s hasbara [propaganda] department and would especially recruit from graduates of Unit 8200.

An article in the Jewish Press about the new command reports that Unit 8200 “has developed a great reputation for effectiveness in intelligence gathering, including operating a massive global spy network. Several alumni of 8200 have gone on to establish leading Israeli IT companies, including Check Point, ICQ, Palo Alto Networks, NICE, AudioCodes, Gilat, Leadspace, EZchip, Onavo, Singular and CyberArk.”

<img class=”wp-image-9439 size-large” src=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=728%2C410&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=1024%2C576&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=300%2C169&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=768%2C432&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=728%2C410&ssl=1 728w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=344%2C193&ssl=1 344w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=400%2C225&ssl=1 400w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?resize=180%2C100&ssl=1 180w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?w=1280&ssl=1 1280w” alt=”” width=”728″ height=”410″ data-attachment-id=”9439″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/check_point_hq_tel-aviv/” data-orig-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?fit=1280%2C720&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”1280,720″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Check_point_hq_Tel Aviv” data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?fit=300%2C169&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Check_point_hq_Tel-Aviv.jpg?fit=728%2C410&ssl=1″ />

Check Point Software headquarters in Tel Aviv. Founded by a former Unit 8200 member, it also has offices throughout the U.S. Israeli tech companies sometimes assist in online spying efforts.

Numerous Israeli tech companies, many of them headed by former military intelligence officers, assist in these online spying efforts, sometimes receiving Israeli government funding “for digital initiatives aimed at gathering intelligence on activist groups and countering their efforts.”

According to the ministry’s statement, among the Command’s activities is finding videos with inflammatory content and issuing complaints to the relevant websites.”

To be clear, this is an occupying military working covertly to achieve censorship of reporting on its atrocities.

 

YouTube & Google officials meet with Israeli Minister

<img class=”wp-image-9436 size-large” src=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?resize=728%2C374&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?resize=1024%2C526&ssl=1 1024w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?resize=300%2C154&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?resize=768%2C394&ssl=1 768w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?w=1114&ssl=1 1114w” alt=”” width=”728″ height=”373″ data-attachment-id=”9436″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/screenshot-2018-02-27-15-46-20/” data-orig-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?fit=1114%2C572&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”1114,572″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Screenshot 2018-02-27 15.46.20″ data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?fit=300%2C154&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-27-15.46.20.png?fit=728%2C374&ssl=1″ />

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaking to the Israel Collaboration Network’s Israeli Women in Tech Group on August 25, 2016.

Major Internet companies have reportedly been cooperating in this effort.

In 2015 Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced that she had visited Silicon Valley and met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Google’s Director of Public Policy (it is unclear whether this was was Jennifer Oztzistzki or Juniper Downs; Hotovely’s announcement referred to “Jennifer Downs”).

“At the end of the meeting,” Israeli media reported, “it was agreed that Google would strengthen bilateral relations with the Foreign Ministry and build a collaborative work apparatus.”

Another Israeli news report about the meeting states: “…it was agreed that the companies would strengthen ties with the Foreign Ministry and build a regular mechanism of control to prevent the distribution of those incendiary materials on the network.”

Google, which owns YouTube, denied the Foreign Ministry’s report. The Ministry accordingly “clarified” its statement somewhat, but continued to say that Israeli officials would be in “regular contact with Google’s employees in Israel who deal with the problematic materials.”

Such officials often have close ties to Israel. For example, Facebook’s Head of Policy in Israel,Jordana Cutler, had previously been employed for many years by the Israeli government. (More about Facebook can be found here.)

<img class=”wp-image-9443 size-full” src=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?resize=543%2C716&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 543px) 100vw, 543px” srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?w=543&ssl=1 543w, https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?resize=228%2C300&ssl=1 228w” alt=”” width=”543″ height=”716″ data-attachment-id=”9443″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/screenshot-2018-02-28-09-57-43/” data-orig-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?fit=543%2C716&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”543,716″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”Screenshot 2018-02-28 09.57.43″ data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?fit=228%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screenshot-2018-02-28-09.57.43.png?fit=543%2C716&ssl=1″ />

The Linkedin page for Facebook’s Jordana Cutler

The meetings seem to have had a significant effect.

In 2016 Fortune magazine reported: “Facebook, Google, and YouTube are complying with up to 95% of Israeli requests to delete content that the government says incites Palestinian violence, Israel’s Justice Minister said on Monday.”

More recently, the Israeli Ministry of Justice said that its cyber unit handled 2,241 cases of online content and succeeded in getting 70 percent of it removed.

According to a 2017 report, Google, in its capacity as the operator of Youtube, announced that it was updating the steps it was already taking on this score.

Among other things, Google said it would increase the number of members of the “Trusted Flagger program,” which enables certain organizations and government agencies to report content. It also said it would “increase support for NGOs and organizations working to present a ‘corrective voice.’”

Given the record of infiltration and orchestrated activities described above—many financed by a combination of certain influential billionaires and the Israeli government itself—it’s hard to imagine that Israeli organizations and partisans are not thoroughly embedded in this program. In fact, one of the NGOs already working with YouTube as a “trusted flagger” is the Anti-Defamation League, whose mission includes ‘standing up for Israel.’

<img class=”wp-image-9567 size-full” src=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?resize=480%2C280&ssl=1″ sizes=”(max-width: 480px) 100vw, 480px” srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?w=480&ssl=1 480w, https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?resize=300%2C175&ssl=1 300w” alt=”” width=”480″ height=”280″ data-attachment-id=”9567″ data-permalink=”https://israelpalestinenews.org/israel-partisans-work-censor-internet/adlisrael/” data-orig-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?fit=480%2C280&ssl=1″ data-orig-size=”480,280″ data-comments-opened=”0″ data-image-meta=”{"aperture":"6.3","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D Mark III","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1496576482","copyright":"","focal_length":"33","iso":"500","shutter_speed":"0.008","title":"","orientation":"0"}” data-image-title=”ADLIsrael” data-image-description=”” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?fit=300%2C175&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ADLIsrael.jpg?fit=480%2C280&ssl=1″ />

Anti-Defamation League celebrates Israel at 2017 New York City parade.

A leaked secret January 2017 ADL working paper detailed how to counter the pro-Palestine movement. Among its many strategies were some focused on the importance of efforts in cyber space.

The paper was produced in collaboration with the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank, and included an endorsement by Sima Vaknin-Gil, who stated that “the correlation between the Ministry’s mode of operation and what comes out of this document is very high, and has already proven effective… ”

<img class=”m_-5396019248760744276gmail- m_-5396019248760744276gmail-wp-image-9622 CToWUd a6T alignleft” tabindex=”0″ src=”https://ci6.googleusercontent.com/proxy/voXh3P22k7oVJYy4KRbTJzJbjb8jfv9rtFigjlkRSNBkIEjbYdFfrOwChK9gx1znHV36_osAGkPwblhTZhV0LSI3jENSwalvolgT9CWfRtJCdSAfj-pzzskvPEM05cTXCcC5jCskO-fAHBDR9mTscfibWWq3FGIGIJMu-IYOInr7d8sGSk2XEidwaooYws5lM2UxGg=s0-d-e1-ft#https://i2.wp.com/israelpalestinenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Screenshot-2018-03-09-08.23.25.png?resize=328%2C425&ssl=1″ alt=”” width=”328″ height=”426″ />

The document’s executive summary noted: “Cyberspace, broadly defined, stands out as a crucially important arena (for monitoring and counter and pro-active strategies) which requires more resources and attention due to its current influence, rapid growth and growing complexity.”

The paper called for “a mix of policy advocacy and industry engagement with corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter in a manner consistent with the ADL Center for Technology and Society and its Anti-Cyberhate Working Group.”

The paper also recommended: “‘Bottom-up efforts’ of crowd-sourcing to enhance the adaptive capacity of the pro-Israel network.”

At the same time, it urged:

Strengthening pro-Israel organizations that mobilize and coordinate a network of ‘nodes’ e.g. Jewish Community Public Affairs (JCPA) and its network of Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRCs) in the USA; Hillel, which is present in nearly five hundred locations in the U.S. and globally; the Israel Action Network (IAN) that reaches nearly 160 federations in the U.S.; or the Jewish Congress (WJC) that represents dozens of Jewish communities around the world.”

The detailed, 32-page document reported that in recent years “a massive investment of resources and talent” had been directed against the pro-Palestine movement. One of the results, the paper said, was to create a “world-wide pro-Israel network.” It was this network that the report wished to mobilize. One of the paper’s concerns was that since Israel’s 2014  attack on Gaza “a growing number of Jews have become more critical of Israel.”

The document recommended a degree of stealth, noting: “high-visibility response by the pro-Israel side can be counterproductive.”

Read the ADL’s 2017 report The Assault on Israel’s Legitimacy

 

What this means

Nevertheless, despite all these forces arrayed against information about Palestine reaching the American public, our channel is back up on YouTube. In fact, we’ve just uploaded a new video:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/k4JyxJ2SPYY?rel=0&showinfo=0

This one is about the death of a nine-year-old boy. [Perhaps the Israeli government would consider this incitement to Palestinians to rebel against occupation; we see it as incitement to the world in general, and Americans in particular, to care.]

In other words, Israel’s efforts at censorship don’t always succeed.

But sometimes they do, and other YouTube users have not always been so fortunate. For example, YouTube has terminated several Palestinian news organizations.

One was the al-Quds network, which, according to a report in Middle East Eye, “relies on young reporters and volunteers using phones and other digital devices to cover local news across the Palestinian territories.” They would often report Israeli soldiers committing various human rights violations.

Its YouTube channel was terminated in 2011, and its editor says they had to “to create a new channel from scratch.” By 2017 its new channel had gained almost 10 million views before it was suddenly suspended without warning again last October. It now, however, appears to have a YouTube channel in operation.

According to the MEE report, YouTube also suspended the Filisten al-Youm TV channel last August, and in 2013, apparently following complaints by the Anti-Defamation League, YouTube closed down Iran’s PressTV channel. (A Press TV YouTube channel now also appears to be available again.)

Palestinian social media users risk even greater consequences.

The Israeli government has arrested Palestinians for videos, poems, and other posts it dislikes. A 2016 report estimated that “more than 150 arrests took place between October and February 2016 based on Facebook posts expressing opinions on the uprising. A recent video posted on social media led to the imprisonment of a 16 year old girl, her mother and cousin.

In addition, Palestinian access to social media is somewhat controlled by Israel. As a Huffington Post article reports, ”Palestinians’ digital rights and access to the Internet are compromised in very basic ways, because Israel controls the infrastructure and services of Palestinian telecommunication companies in the West Bank.”

While the situation has greatly improved in recent years – the Israeli government finally announced in 2016 that it would allow Palestinians in the West Bank to access 3G wireless networks, making this one of the last regions in the world with such access after years of Israeli restrictions – it is important to remember the enormous power Israel wields over this largely captive population.

While Israel is able to organize entire campaigns to filter and flood social media, its immense control over Palestinians impedes their access to the same media.

Given these facts, it is extremely important for people to search out information for themselves, go directly to our websites and others, subscribe to diverse email lists, and not rely on social media for information. [Please subscribe to our news posts here.]

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others are private companies. In the end, they have the power to censor information, and they periodically do so. For a few days, we felt acutely what that was like. If Facebook had joined the ban, as has happened with others, we would have been even more cut off from what is essentially today’s “public square.”

The Internet and social media give us far more access to information and tools for communication and activism than ever before, but they, too, can be controlled—and they are.

It is up to us, as always, to overcome.

Top Photo | An Israeli soldier looks at the Facebook page of the IDF, at the IDF spokesperson’s office in Jerusalem, in the Occupied Territories. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)

Alison Weir is an author and activist.  Her book, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel is an Amazon best-seller and has been called a “must-read for all Americans.” Learn more about it here.

How israel and its partisans work to censor the Internet

Source

Students at the Israeli military’s Computing and Cyber Defense Academy. Israel is also “scouring Jewish communities abroad for young computer prodigies willing to join its ranks.”
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | March 8, 2018

Numerous well funded, organized projects by and for Israel work to flood social media with pro-Israel propaganda, while blocking facts Israel dislikes. The projects utilize Israeli soldiers, students, American teens and others, and range from infiltrating Wikipedia to influencing YouTube. Some operate out of Jewish Community Centers in the U.S.

By Alison Weir

Recently, YouTube suddenly shut down the If Americans Knew YouTube channel. This contained 70 videos providing facts-based information about Israel-Palestine.

People going to the channel saw a message telling them that the site had been terminated for “violating YouTube guidelines”—implying to the public that we were guilty of wrongdoing. And ensuring they didn’t learn about the information we were trying to disseminate.

When we tried to access our channel, we found a message saying our account had been “permanently disabled.” We had received no warning and got no explanation.

After five days, we received a generic message saying YouTube had reviewed our content and determined it didn’t violate any guidelines. Our channel became live once more.

So why was it shut down in the first place? What happened and why?

As it turns out, Israel and Israeli institutions employ armies of Internet warriors—from Israeli soldiers to students—to spread propaganda online and try to get content banned that Israel doesn’t want seen.

Perhaps like our videos of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.

What happened

A few days before the termination of our channel, we received a form email from YouTube, telling us we had gotten “one strike” for a short video about a Palestinian man killed by Israeli soldiers. The video was part of our series of videos to make Palestinian victims, usually ignored by US media, visible to Americans.

It takes three minutes to view the video and see that it contains nothing objectionable, unless revealing cruelty and oppression is objectionable:

YouTube’s email claimed we had somehow violated their long list of guidelines but did not tell us which one, or how. It simply stated:

“Your video ‘Ahmad Nasser Jarrar’ was flagged for review. Upon review, we’ve determined that it violates our guidelines. We’ve removed it from YouTube and assigned a Community Guidelines strike, or temporary penalty, to your account.”

Such a penalty is not public and does not terminate the channel.

Three days later, before we’d even had a chance to appeal this strike, YouTube suddenly took down our entire channel. This was done with no additional warnings or explanation.

This violated YouTube’s published policies.

YouTube policies say there is a “three-strike” system by which it warns people of alleged violations three times before terminating a channel. If a channel is eventually terminated, the policies state that YouTube will send an email “detailing the reason for the suspension.”

None of this happened in our case.

We submitted appeals on YouTube’s online form, but received no response. Attempts to find a phone number for YouTube and/or email addresses by which we could communicate with a human being were futile.

YouTube’s power to shut down content without explanation whenever it chooses was acutely apparent. While there are other excellent video hosting sites, YouTube is the largest one, with nearly ten times more views than its closest competitors. It is therefore enormously powerful in shaping which information is available to the public–and which is not.

We spent days working to upload our videos elsewhere, update links to the videos, etc. Finally, having received no response or even acknowledgment of our appeal from YouTube, we decided to write an article about the situation. We emailed YouTube’s press department a list of questions about its process. We have yet to receive any answers.

Finally that evening we received an email with good news:

“After a review of your account, we have confirmed that your YouTube account is not in violation of our Terms of Service. As such, we have unsuspended your account. This means your account is once again active and operational.”

Our channel was visible once more. And YouTube had now officially confirmed that our content doesn’t violate its guidelines.

Ultimately, the YouTube system seems to have worked, in our case. Inappropriate censorship was overruled, perhaps by saner or less biased heads. In fact, we felt that there might at least be one positive result of the situation—additional YouTube employees had viewed our videos and perhaps learned much about Israel-Palestine they had not previously known.

But the whole experience was a wakeup call that YouTube can censor information critical of powerful parties at any time, with no explanation or accountability.

Israeli soldiers paid to “Tweet, Share, Like and more”

Israel and partisans of Israel have long had a significant presence on the Internet, working to promote the Israel narrative and block facts about Palestine, the Israel lobby, and other subject matter they wish covered up.

Opinionated proponents of Israel post comments, flag content, accuse critics of “antisemitism,” and disseminate misinformation about Palestine and Palestine solidarity activists. Many of these actions are by individuals acting alone who work independently, voluntarily, and relentlessly.

In addition to these, however, a number of orchestrated, often well-funded projects sponsored by the Israeli government and others have come to light. These projects work to place pro-Israel content throughout the Internet, and to remove information Israel doesn’t wish people to know.

One such Israeli project targeting the Internet came to light when it was lauded in an article by Arutz Sheva, an Israeli news organization headquartered in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

The report described a new project by Israel’s “New Media desk” that focused on YouTube and other social media sites. The article reported that Israeli soldiers were being employed to “Tweet, Share, Like and more.”

The article noted, “It is well known nowadays that what happens on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has great influence on events as they occur on the ground. The Internet, too, is a battleground.” It was “comforting,” the article stated, to learn that the IDF was employing soldiers whose job was specifically to do battle on it.

Israeli students paid to promote Israel on social media

Screen shot from a video about student program to spread pro-Israel content on the Internet and social media.

Another project to do battle on the Internet was initiated in 2011 by the 300,000-strong National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS). The goal was “to deepen and expand hasbara [state propaganda] activities of students in the State of Israel.”

Under this program, Israeli students are paid $2,000 to work five hours per week to “lead the battle against hostile websites.”

An announcement for the program (translated here into English) noted that “many students in Israel master the Internet and are proficient at using the Internet and social networking and various sites and are required to write and express themselves in English.” Students can work from the comfort of their own homes, points out the announcement.

“Students work in four teams: Content, Wikipedia, Monitoring and New Media,” according to the program description. It details the responsibilities for each team:

The content team is responsible for creating original content in a news format.

The monitoring team is responsible for “monitoring efforts while reporting and removing anti-Semitic [sic] content from social networks in a variety of languages.” (The program conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism; see below.)

The New Media team is responsible for social media channels, “including Facebook accounts in English, French and Portuguese, Twitter, YouTube channels, and so on.”

The Wikipedia team is “responsible for writing new entries and translating them into languages that operate in the program, updating the values of current and relevant information, tracking and preventing bias in the program’s areas of activity.”

This program sometimes claims it is working against antisemitism, but it conflates antisemitism with criticism of the state of Israel. This is in line with an Israel-backed initiative to legally define “antisemitism” to include discussing negative facts about Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.

Campaign to infiltrate Wikipedia

The pro-Israel organization CAMERA infiltrated Wikipedia for a time. (Illustration by Electronic Intifada.)

Several years ago, another project came to light that targeted Wikipedia. While manipulating Wikipedia entries doesn’t directly impact YouTube, it provides a window into some of these efforts to manipulate online content.

A 2008 exposé in the Electronic Intifada revealed: “A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia.”

While it is common and appropriate for individuals to edit Wikipedia entries to add factual information and remove inaccurate statements, this project was the antithesis of such editing. As EI, reported, its purpose was “to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged.”

Author Ali Abunimah reported that a source had provided EI with a series of emails from members and associates of the pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) that showed the group “was engaged in what one activist termed a ‘war’ on Wikipedia.”

CAMERA Senior Research Analyst Gilead Ini organized a project to infiltrate Wikipedia.

CAMERA called for volunteers to secretly work on editing Wikipedia entries. It emphasized the importance of keeping the project secret. Volunteers were schooled in ways to elude detection. After they signed up as editors, they were to “avoid editing Israel-related articles for a short period of time.”

They were also told to “avoid, for obvious reasons, picking a username that marks you as pro-Israel, or that lets people know your real name.”

CAMERA also warned them: “Don’t forget to always log in… If you make changes while not logged in, Wikipedia will record your computer’s IP address.”

A Wikipedia editor known as Zeq helped in the effort, telling volunteers: “Edit articles at random, make friends not enemies—we will need them later on. This is a marathon not a sprint.” He emphasized the importance of secrecy: “You don’t want to be precived [sic] as a ‘CAMERA’ defender’ on wikipedia that is for sure.”

Zeq recommended that they work with and learn from an independent, pro-Israel Wikipedia editor known as Jayjg, but directed them to keep the project secret even from him.

When this all came to light, Wikipedia took measures against such manipulation of its system and the CAMERA program may have ended.

If it did, others stepped into the breach. In 2010 two Israeli groups began offering a course in “Zionist editing” of Wikipedia entries. The aim was “to make sure that information in the online encyclopedia reflects the worldview of Zionist groups.” A course organizer explained that the use of the word “occupied” in Wikipedia entries “was just the kind of problem she hoped a new team of editors could help fix.”

Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper reported: “The organizers’ aim was twofold: to affect Israeli public opinion by having people who share their ideological viewpoint take part in writing and editing for the Hebrew version, and to write in English so Israel’s image can be bolstered abroad.”

There was to be a prize for the “Best Zionist Editor”—the person who over the next four years incorporated the most “Zionist” changes in the encyclopedia. The winner would receive a trip in a hot-air balloon over Israel.

High tech millionaire Naftali Bennett, a right-wing minister close to the settler movement, describes the program:

The UK Guardian reports: “One Jerusalem-based Wikipedia editor, who doesn’t want to be named, said that publicising the initiative might not be such a good idea. ‘Going public in the past has had a bad effect,’ she says. ‘There is a war going on and unfortunately the way to fight it has to be underground.’”

Again in 2013, there was evidence of pro-Israel tampering with Wikipedia. Israel’s Ha’aretz reported that a social-media employee of NGO Monitor edited articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an allegedly biased manner. “Draiman concealed the facts that he was an employee of NGO Monitor, often described as a right-wing group, and that he was using a second username, which is forbidden under Wikipedia’s rules,” according to the paper.

Such actions have had an impact. A website critical of Wikipedia said in 2014 that there were “almost ten times as many articles about murdered Israeli children as there are articles about murdered Palestinian children,” even though at least 10 times more Palestinian children had been killed.

The website also pointed out: “While editors like Zeq (TCL) and CltFn (TCL) may get banned in the end, the articles they started remain.”

If YouTube reviewers and others use Wikipedia in their determination about whether content should be removed or not, these efforts to censor Wikipedia could adversely affect their decisions.

Social Media Missions for Israel

Title image from Forward article about the Act.IL campaign.

In 2017 yet another project to target Internet platforms was launched. Known as Act.il, the project uses a software application that “leverages the power of communities to support Israel through organized online activity.”

The software is a joint venture of three groups: Israel’s IDC University; the Israeli American Council, which works to “organize and activate” the half million Israeli-Americans who live in the U.S.; and another American group called the Maccabee Task Force, created to combat the international boycott of Israel, which it terms “an anti-Semitic movement.” Maccabee says it is “laser focused on one core mission—to ensure that those who seek to delegitimize Israel and demonize the Jewish people are confronted, combatted and defeated.”

Image from Maccabee end of year report.

In addition, the project is supported by Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry and Israel’s intelligence community. Its CEO is an eight-year veteran of Israeli army intelligence.

Israel’s Jerusalem Post reports that Act.IL is “a wide-ranging grassroots campaign app that lets individuals combat BDS in the palm of their hand” or, as we will see, from public computers in the US.

“Act.IL is more than just an app,” the Post article explains. “It is a campaign that taps into the collective knowledge of IDC students who together speak 35 languages, hail from 86 countries and have connections to the pro-Israel community all over the world.”

The article claims: “A platform like Act.IL offers world Jewry an opportunity to fight for one thing the majority can rally behind: Israel.” (This ignores the fact that there are many Jewish individuals who oppose Israeli policies.)

Israel partisans around the world download the app, and then “in this virtual situation room of experts, they detect instances where Israel is being assailed online and they program the app to find missions that can be carried out with a push of a button.”

An organizer notes: “When you work together, with the same goals and values, you can be incredibly powerful in the social media landscape.”

Some missions ask users to report videos. Israeli government officials say that the Act.il app “is more effective than official government requests at getting those videos removed from online platforms.”

The project is led by former Israeli intelligence officers and has close ties to American casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Another funder is the Paul R. Singer Foundation, funded by the Republican hedge fund billionaire.

The Forward calls Act.IL a new entry into the “online propaganda war” that “has thousands of mostly U.S.-based volunteers who can be directed from Israel into a social media swarm.”

According to the Forward, “Its work so far offers a startling glimpse of how it could shape the online conversations about Israel without ever showing its hand.”

The Forward reports: “Act.il says that its app has 12,000 sign-ups so far, and 6,000 regular users. The users are located all over the world, though the majority of them appear to be in the United States. Users get ‘points’ for completed missions; top-ranked users complete five or six missions a day. Top users win prizes: a congratulatory letter from a government minister, or a doll of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister.”

Photo of group that participated in Act.IL training

Act.IL’s CEO, a veteran Israeli army intelligence officer, said the Israeli military and its domestic intelligence service “‘request’ Act.il’s help in getting services like Facebook to remove specific videos that call for violence against Jews or Israelis.” This according to the Forward report.

The officer later tried to walk back his statement, “saying that the Shin Bet [intelligence service] and the army don’t request help on specific videos but are in regular informal contact with Act.il. He said that Act.il’s staff is largely made up of former Israeli intelligence officers.”

Teens in American JCCs carry out missions assigned from Israel

New Jersey “Media Room,” a project of IAC New Jersey in partnership with Act.IL.

The project recruits Jewish teens and adults and sometimes operates out of local Jewish community centers, the Forward says. The paper describes one example:

“The dozen or so Israelis sitting around a conference table at a Jewish community center in Tenafly, New Jersey, on a recent Wednesday night didn’t look like the leading edge of a new Israeli government-linked crowdsourced online propaganda campaign.

“Tapping on laptops, the group of high school students and adult mentors completed social media ‘missions’ assigned out of a headquarters in Herzliya, Israel.”

In addition to the Tenafly “media room” another operates in Boston in cooperation with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. There are also regular Act.il advocacy-training sessions at The Frisch School, a Jewish day school in Paramas, New Jersey. Other media rooms are reportedly in the works, with one in Manhattan, hosted by The Paul R. Singer Foundation, scheduled to open soon.

 The Forward reports: “In November, the Boston media room created a mission for the app that asked users to email a Boston-area church to complain about a screening there of a documentary that is critical of Israel. The proposed text of the email likens the screening of the film to the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, and calls the film’s narrator, Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, a ‘well-known anti-Semite.’”
Photo of Boston Media Room published by Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, which states: “Media Room Ambassadors are students and adult mentors who are trained with the knowledge, skills, and tools to positively influence public discourse by developing pro-Israel social media campaigns.”

According to the Forward, Act.il also produces “pro-Israel web content that carries no logo. It distributes that content to other pro-Israel groups, including the Adelson-funded Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi and The Israel Project, which push them out on their own social media feeds.”

The Forward predicts: “Initiatives in cyberspace seem likely to increase.”

Screenshot from video promoting the project, posted on the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston website.

Israeli media report that the Israeli military “has begun scouring Jewish communities abroad for young computer prodigies” to recruit for its ranks.

An Israeli official described the process: “Our first order of business is to search Jewish communities abroad for teens who could qualify, Our representatives will then travel to the communities and begin the screening process there.”

Israeli Government Ministry backs secret online campaigns

General Sima Vaknin-Gil told Israeli tech developers to “flood the Internet” with pro-Israel propaganda. As Israel’s Chief Censor, she said: ” “We censor information that is critical to our enemies, who have no capabilities like us, do not have a Jewish brain, and therefore our enemy relies to a large extent on open information…”

Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, which is behind this and similar projects, has mobilized substantial resources for online activities.

Israel’s Ynet news reports that the Ministry’s director “sees it as a war for all intents and purposes. ‘The delegitimization against the State of Israel can be curbed and contained through public diplomacy and soft tools,’ she says. ‘In order to win, however, we must use tricks and craftiness.’”

The director, General Sima Vaknin-Gil, told a forum of Israeli tech developers at a forum: “I want to create a community of fighters.” The objective is to “curb the activities of anti-Israel activists,” and “flood the Internet” with pro-Israel content.

An Israeli report in December stated that the ministry has acquired a budget of roughly $70 million to “stand at the forefront of the battle against delegitimization, adopting methods from the fields of intelligence and technology. There is a reason why ministry officials define it as ‘a war on consciousness terrorism.’” [‘Delegitimization’ is a common Israeli term for criticism of Israel. See here for a discussion of the term.]

A Ha’aretz article reports: “The Strategic Affairs Ministry’s leaders see themselves as the heads of a commando unit, gathering and disseminating information about ‘supporters of the delegitimization of Israel’—and they prefer their actions be kept secret.”

The article reports that the Ministry includes a job role entitled “Senior official—new-media realm,” responsible for surveillance and activities “in the digital realm.”

This individual head is responsible for analyzing social media and formulating a social media campaign against sites and activists who are deemed a threat to Israel.

Among the job’s responsibilities are:

“Analysis of the world of social media, in terms of content, technology and network structure, emphasizing centers of gravity and focuses of influence, methods, messages, organizations, sites and key activists, studying their characteristics, areas, realms and key patterns of activities of the rival campaign and formulating a strategy for an awareness campaign against them in this realm and managing crises on social media. That is, surveilling of activities mainly in the digital arena.”

Officials at the ministry are charged with “construction and promotion of creative and suitable programs for new media.”

The unit works to keep its activities secret from the public. For example, a program to train young Israelis for activities on social media was exempted from publishing a public bid for funding. Similarly, the ministry’s special unit against delegitimization, “Hama’aracha” (The Battle), is excluded from Israel’s Freedom of Information Law.

The 29th floor of Tel Aviv’s Champion Tower is the nerve center of a 24-7 ‘war’ in which Israeli agents working behind the scenes advance U.S. legislation, torpedo events, organize counter-protests, & close bank accounts.. The Director says: ‘In order to win we must use tricks and craftiness.’

Its activities reportedly include a “24/7 operations room monitoring all the delegitimization activities against Israel: Protests, conferences, publications calling for an anti-Israel boycott and international bodies’ boycott initiatives. The operations room will transfer the information to the relevant people to provide a proper response to these activities, whether through a counter-protest or through moves to thwart the initiative behind the scenes.”

Other programs include a 22-million-shekel project to work among labor unions and professional associations abroad “to root out the ability of BDS entities to influence the unions,” and a 16-million-shekel program focused on student activities throughout the world.

Israel’s UNIT 8200

Photo from article about Unit 8200 on Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre website.

Another Israeli entity that plays a role in covert Internet activity is the Israeli military’s legendary high-tech spy branch, Unit 8200. This unit is composed of thousands of “cyber warriors” primarily 18 to 21 years of age; some even younger. A number of its graduates have gone on to top positions at tech companies operating in the U.S., such as Check Point Software (where the spouse of the Jewish Voice for Peace head is employed as a solutions architect).

In 2015 Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced plans “to establish a special command to combat anti-Israel incitement on social media.” The command would operate under the foreign ministry’s hasbara [propaganda] department and would especially recruit from graduates of Unit 8200.

An article in the Jewish Press about the new command reports that Unit 8200 “has developed a great reputation for effectiveness in intelligence gathering, including operating a massive global spy network. Several alumni of 8200 have gone on to establish leading Israeli IT companies, including Check Point, ICQ, Palo Alto Networks, NICE, AudioCodes, Gilat, Leadspace, EZchip, Onavo, Singular and CyberArk.”

Check Point Software headquarters in Tel Aviv. Founded by a former Unit 8200 member, it also has offices throughout the U.S. Israeli tech companies sometimes assist in online spying efforts.

Numerous Israeli tech companies, many of them headed by former military intelligence officers, assist in these online spying efforts, sometimes receiving Israeli government funding “for digital initiatives aimed at gathering intelligence on activist groups and countering their efforts.”

According to the ministry’s statement, among the Command’s activities is finding videos with inflammatory content and issuing complaints to the relevant websites.”

To be clear, this is an occupying military working covertly to achieve censorship of reporting on its atrocities.

YouTube & Google officials meet with Israeli Minister

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaking to the Israel Collaboration Network’s Israeli Women in Tech Group on August 25, 2016.

Major Internet companies have reportedly been cooperating in this effort.

In 2015 Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely announced that she had visited Silicon Valley and met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and Google’s Director of Public Policy (it is unclear whether this was was Jennifer Oztzistzki or Juniper Downs; Hotovely’s announcement referred to “Jennifer Downs”).

“At the end of the meeting,” Israeli media reported, “it was agreed that Google would strengthen bilateral relations with the Foreign Ministry and build a collaborative work apparatus.”

Another Israeli news report about the meeting states: “…it was agreed that the companies would strengthen ties with the Foreign Ministry and build a regular mechanism of control to prevent the distribution of those incendiary materials on the network.”

Google, which owns YouTube, denied the Foreign Ministry’s report. The Ministry accordingly “clarified” its statement somewhat, but continued to say that Israeli officials would be in “regular contact with Google’s employees in Israel who deal with the problematic materials.”

Such officials often have close ties to Israel. For example, Facebook’s Head of Policy in Israel, Jordana Cutler, had previously been employed for many years by the Israeli government. (More about Facebook can be found here.)

عودة «المنار»

Image result for ‫المنار»‬‎

عودة «المنار»

مارس 6, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– ليس المكان ولا المجال ولا الوقت ولا المصلحة للخوض في التفاصيل، فالخبر كافٍ بذاته للاحتفال. عودة قناة «المنار» إلى مشاهديها وجمهورها على الأقمار الصناعية، بعد تغييب مفتعَل وعقابي على خيارها المقاوم. وهي تعود شعلة لا تنطفئ كصوت للمقاومة إلى جانب زميلات لها وقفت مع خط المقاومة، ولا تزال، وقدّمت تعويضاً مميّزاً ولافتاً لغياب «المنار» وستواصل الإضافة النوعية. وهنا تحضر قناة «الميادين» في المقام الأول، لكن عودة «المنار» حدث لا ينعزل عن حاجة جمهورها لحضورها، وما تقدّم له من خدمة إعلامية حية مميّزة في ميادين الإعلام الحربي الذي تفوّقت به، كما في مجال الإعلام الملتزم بشرح خط سياسي مقاوم وتحليل مواقف وخلفيات، بلا الحاجة للمرور في اختبارات إثبات الحياد كمظلة لا بدّ منها لسواها.

– يذكر جمهور المقاومة «المنار» في حرب تموز ويذكرها في الحرب السورية، ويحفظ لها المقاومون في قلوبهم مكانة خاصة، كما لا يعوّض غيابها أداء مميّز لزميلة أو شقيقة، كقناة «العالم» التي تستحق التحية ومعها مراسلوها في ميادين القتال، كما مراسلو قناة «الميادين» والقنوات السورية التي تحوّل مراسلوها إلى محاربين ارتقى بعضهم شهداء، وفي لبنان شقيقتها «أن بي أن»، لكن التميّز عند الزميلات والشقيقات، وقد توسّعت العائلة كثيراً بقنوات تنتمي لخط المقاومة كـ»الاتجاه» و«الغدير» و«النجباء» في العراق و«اللؤلؤة» في البحرين و«المسيرة» و«الساحات» في اليمن، لا يلغي حقيقة أنّ لحضور المنار نكهة مميّزة، تماماً كما لا يلغي حضور فصائل المقاومة العراقية واليمنية، المكانة المميّزة للمقاومة اللبنانية. وعودة «المنار» كيفما كانت معطياتها وظروفها، تجارياً وسياسياً، وتعاقدياً وقانونياً، فهي عودة احتفالية تستحق التحية.

– القضية التي طرحها تغييب «المنار» كانت الحاجة إلى قمر صناعي لا تخضع إدارته لضغوط سياسية تستهدف قوى المقاومة، قادر على توفير التغطية للمنطقة بطريقة فنية مناسبة لا ترهق المشاهدين بترتيبات معقدة أو مكلفة، ويجب التنويه بجهود بذلتها إدارة الأقمار الصناعية الروسية، ونجاحها بتخصيص أحد أقمارها لتغطية المنطقة على محاور الأقمار العاملة في سماء المنطقة، والتي تحمل القنوات التلفزيونية الوجهة إليها، وبدء التعاقد بأسعار مخفضة مع قنوات عاملة لتنويع باقات البث من أقمار آمنة لا تعرّضها لخطر الإيقاف والضغوط.

– واحدة من إيجابيات المبادرة الروسية خلق سوق تنافسية جعلت التفكير بمعادلة العقوبات موضع نقاش، بعدما بدأت العقوبة تتحوّل عقوبات على شركات الأقمار الصناعية التي تلتزم بالعقوبات، كما تصف ألمانيا العقوبات الأميركية على روسيا بالعقوبات على الشركات الألمانية. وهذا حرّر هذه الشركات من كثير من الضغوط كانت تتذمّر منها ضمناً وتعتبرها مخالفة للأصول التجارية التعاقدية ولقواعد العمل المهني، التي يفترض أن تؤدّي لحجب قنوات التحريض على الفتن، وقنوات تشجيع التطرف، وقنوات الإباحية، بدلاً من استهداف قنوات المقاومة، التي تبذل جهدها لتفادي التصادم مع قواعد السلوكيات المتفق عليها.

– مع عودة «المنار» إلى جمهورها، تحية الزمالة، وتحية خنادق القتال، وتحية المقاومين… وألف «مبروك» لإدارتها والعاملين فيها… والعود أحمد.

قناة «المنار» – عودة البث على قمر نايل سات H10971- 6/5

AJAMU BARAKA ON CAMPAIGN TO SHUT DOWN US FOREIGN MILITARY BASES

In Gaza

On January 22, 2018, I had the opportunity to speak with the well-respected, highly-informed, longtime rights activist and writer, Ajamu Baraka.

A human rights defender whose experience spans four decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles. Please see his extended bio on his website.

He was the 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate, and is a lead organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace. Mr. Baraka is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report, and also publishes at Black Commentator, Commondreams, Pambazuka, and Dissident Voice.

Related Links

http://noforeignbases.org
https://blackagendareport.com/peace-requires-social-transformation
https://twitter.com/i/web/status/954098699189346305
https://blackagendareport.com/peace-requires-social-transformation
https://twitter.com/ajamubaraka/status/955471891019550720
https://twitter.com/ajamubaraka/status/953314222775169025
https://ingaza.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/a-personal-reply-to-the-fact-challenged-smears-of-terrorist-whitewashing-channel-4-snopes-and-la-presse/

Head of RT: American Media is Completely Fake – Even Your President Agrees

Pro-Terror Groups Create Fake “Atrocities,” News Stories For Anti-Assad Twitter Campaign

Source

Brandon Turbeville — Activist Post Jan 11, 2018

syria-chem-weapons-propaganda-1024x562-1-1024x562

As the Syrian military makes massive gains across the Idlib governorate, the last major bit of territory controlled by Western-backed terrorists, mainstream media is once again alight with “Assad is bombing his own people” stories. It is the exact same playlist that was used when the Syrian government liberated Homs, Deir ez-Zour, and Aleppo only this time it is updated for Idlib. Soon, we should be hearing stories of how Assad and Putin personally ordered the bombing of the “last hospital in Idilb.” No doubt there will be a lot of hospitals in Idlib since we may hear the story ten times before the region is liberated just as we did in Aleppo.

In this current propaganda campaign against the Syrian military’s operation in Idlib, a recent article by Sarah Abed reveals a terrorist-based group which has organized a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #Outrage4Idlib in order to denigrate the Syrian military operation and to push fake “atrocities” committed by the Syrian military.

In her article for al-Sura, (Syrian Opposition Groups Fabricate ‘Atrocities’ For Media Campaign In Idlib) Sarah Abed writes,

As the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) makes some vast advances in liberating Idlib and the surrounding areas, groups supporting Syrian Al Qaeda (HTS) take to twitter to ramp up a propaganda campaign against the SAA. A mass produced list of pre-made tweets highlighting ‘atrocities’ that are yet to happen was posted by opposition groups to garner support for Syrian Al Qaeda currently in Idlib fighting Syrian government forces.

Entirely fictitious tweets such as these serve the purpose of promoting anti-Syrian government sentiments across social media, in hopes of prolonging the devastating war which has claimed the lives of over half a million Syrians and displaced millions in almost seven years.

The archive of pre-made tweets states “Today ( January 9th) a list of suggestions of pre-made tweets will be released. All you have to do is click to tweet to join the campaign and invite people to join us. Please use this site to tweet: RT are not counting in the trend, only originals tweets count.”

Al-Sura itself tweeted a screenshot of some of the tweets that contain premade headlines and headlines of atrocities and events that have yet to happen. Other tweets contain headlines of events that were reported years ago but are being falsely attributed to the current military operation in Idlib.

 

No doubt, the propaganda machine will be ramping up for the last battle to eliminate Western-backed terrorists from a major city in their largest concentration in Syria. The discovery of the tweet campaign just demonstrates the nature of Western pro-terrorist propaganda and should serve as a warning to distrust anything coming out of the mainstream corporate press and “activist” twitter storms during the liberation process.

Brandon Turbeville writes for Activist Post – article archive here – He is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President, and Resisting The Empire: The Plan To Destroy Syria And How The Future Of The World Depends On The Outcome. Turbeville has published over 1000 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

This article may be freely shared in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

Flashback to 2011: Asma Assad: A Rose in the Desert

[ Ed. note – The article below was initially published in Vogue Magazine in early 2011. I am re-posting it here as it provides a striking look back at Syria as it was just prior to the outbreak of the neocon-instigated regime-change war which so devastated the country.

Asma Assad, the wife of President Bashar Assad, is a woman of grace and beauty, and it’s probably not surprising that a fashion magazine would have decided to publish an article on her. But after the article appeared, Vogue, along with Joan Juliet Buck, the writer of the piece, were attacked by certain mainstream media outlets, such as The Atlantic, presumably for not sufficiently demonizing the Syrian government.

“Asma al-Assad has British roots, wears designer fashion, worked for years in banking, and is married to the dictator Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has killed over 5,000 civilians and hundreds of children this year,” wrote Max Fisher in a sarcastically-worded lead paragraph for The Atlantic.

Fisher also criticized Vogue’s “fawning treatment of the Assad family and its portrayal of the regime as tolerant and peaceful,” noting that this treatment had “generated surprise and outrage in much of the Washington foreign policy community.”

The article by Buck had appeared in Vogue’s February 2011 issue. The Syrian regime-change operation got underway in March, a month later, when protests broke out in Daraa. And the timing of the two probably was nothing more than coincidental.

But of course the neocons in the State Department would have already begun executing their scheme, and a media vilification campaign would have been deemed necessary, or at any rate helpful, in greasing the wheels–and the sudden appearance of the Vogue article (the magazine reportedly has over 11 million readers) probably was looked upon as something of a monkey wrench in the plans. You could think of it as one of the rare moments that a mainstream media organ stepped out of bounds.

Fisher, who now holds a position with the New York Times, went on to kvetch that “the glowing article praised the Assads as a ‘wildly democratic’ family-focused couple who vacation in Europe, foster Christianity, are at ease with American celebrities, made theirs the ‘safest country in the Middle East,’ and want to give Syria a ‘brand essence.’”

It is of course true that the Assads “foster Christianity,” as Fisher contemptuously puts it (indeed–you can go here to see a video I posted two years ago of the first couple attending a Christmas service at a church in Damascus in 2015), but of course it would not do to have this kind of information put out in the mainstream just before the launch of a long-planned regime change operation.

Other mainstream media attacks upon Vogue came from Gawker, where writer John Cook also accused the publication of “fawning”; the New York Times, which published a piece headlined “The Balance of Charm and Reality“; and Slate, whose writer, Noreen Malone, damned Vogue for paying “besotted compliments” to the Assads and for “unwittingly exacerbating” a “modern day Marie Antoinette problem.”

Buck should now be proud of the mainstream media attacks upon her work–but aside from this, her article, as I say, is important also in that it provides a valuable glimpse into life in the country just before the outset of the war.

Syria, she notes, was known as “the safest country in the Middle East.” Buck was roundly excoriated for making this observation, but certainly at the time, in 2011, it was true in spades: Syria was eminently safer than either US-occupied Iraq or Israeli-occupied Palestine.

Buck also notes that Syria is “a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings”–which would have run completely counter to the narrative of Assad being the ubiquitous “brutal dictator who kills his own people” and who serves as a “magnet to jihadis”–but perhaps most noteworthy of all are Buck’s revelations about programs set up for children in the country.

When I visited Syria in 2014, one of the things I heard about were Asma Assad’s charity efforts on behalf of children, so it was not surprising for me, upon reading the Vogue article, to learn of Massar, an organization founded by the First Lady and “built around a series of discovery centers,” or to learn that at these centers children and young adults, ages five to twenty-one, were taught “creative, informal approaches to civic responsibility.”

Buck also tells of Asma’s jaunts around the country visiting local schools and interacting with children in what seems to have been a very life-fulfilling manner.

All of this, of course, would have come to a dramatic halt, or a dramatic curtailment at any rate, when the nightmare began and the country suddenly found itself invaded by armies of US-backed terrorists.

Another fascinating aspect of the article is what it reveals regarding Asma’s contributions toward safeguarding Syria’s cultural heritage. While in Syria I attended, along with several members of the staff of Veterans Today, an anti-terrorism conference held at the Dama Rose Hotel in Damascus. Among the subjects discussed at the conference were the ongoing attacks upon cultural heritage sites.  It was disclosed that at the outset of the conflict, the country’s Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM), in anticipation of terrorist looting of cultural heritage sites, had begun securing priceless artifacts by placing them in secure storage sites around the country.

The effort was a herculean one, involving DGAM’s 2500 employees spanning out across the country, and while most of the credit has gone to Dr. Maamoun Abdulkarim, the director of DGAM, it would appear, if Buck’s article is any indication, that Asma Assad played a role in the effort as well:

There are 500,000 important ancient works of art hidden in storage; Asma al-Assad has brought in the Louvre to create a network of museums and cultural attractions across Syria, and asked Italian experts to help create a database of the 5,000 archaeological sites in the desert. “Culture,” she says, “is like a financial asset. We have an abundance of it, thousands of years of history, but we can’t afford to be complacent.”

The reference to works of art being “hidden in storage” would suggest that already at that time–February of 2011–Syrian officials had begun to anticipate the hellfire that was about to be unleashed upon their country.

One other thing I might mention is a small criticism I have of Buck’s piece. She speaks of “minders” who she claims accompanied her throughout her visit, commenting as well that “on the rare occasions I am out alone, a random series of men in leather jackets seems to be keeping close tabs on what I am doing and where I am headed.”

All I can say in response to this is that I never experienced anything of the like during my own visit to Syria. I stayed at the Dama Rose Hotel–the location where the conference was held–and while I occasionally went out for strolls through the neighborhood, I never once was followed by any “random series of men in leather jackets.” Yes–there were Syrian soldiers in the streets. But they were stationed at certain locations, busy street corners for instance, and they did not begin tailing me suspiciously after I had passed them by. They remained at their posts. Moreover, their presence, rather than threatening, was a comforting assurance I would not be attacked or kidnapped by terrorists, at least while the soldiers were around.

Lastly, I would also mention that Vogue succumbed to the withering barrage of criticism and removed Buck’s article from their website. Less than a year later, the only trace of it that remained on the Internet was at a pro-Syrian site called PresidentAssad.net–something which was made note of in a January 3, 2012 article by Fisher at The Atlantic.

The PresidentAssad.net site is still around, but for some reason the Vogue article seems to have gotten dropped over the years. However, it has re-surfaced–at Gawker. There you may find it (at least for the time being) along with a link back to the attack piece I mentioned above, written by Cook and posted in February of 2011. ]

***

Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert

By Joan Juliet Buck

Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies. Her style is not the couture-and-bling dazzle of Middle Eastern power but a deliberate lack of adornment. She’s a rare combination: a thin, long-limbed beauty with a trained analytic mind who dresses with cunning understatement. Paris Match calls her “the element of light in a country full of shadow zones.” She is the first lady of Syria.

Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East, possibly because, as the State Department’s Web site says, “the Syrian government conducts intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Syrian citizens and foreign visitors.” It’s a secular country where women earn as much as men and the Muslim veil is forbidden in universities, a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings, but its shadow zones are deep and dark. Asma’s husband, Bashar al-Assad, was elected president in 2000, after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, with a startling 97 percent of the vote. In Syria, power is hereditary. The country’s alliances are murky. How close are they to Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah? There are souvenir Hezbollah ashtrays in the souk, and you can spot the Hamas leadership racing through the bar of the Four Seasons. Its number-one enmity is clear: Israel. But that might not always be the case. The United States has just posted its first ambassador there since 2005, Robert Ford.

Iraq is next door, Iran not far away. Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, is 90 minutes by car from Damascus. Jordan is south, and next to it the region that Syrian maps label Palestine. There are nearly one million refugees from Iraq in Syria, and another half-million displaced Palestinians.

“It’s a tough neighborhood,” admits Asma al-Assad.

It’s also a neighborhood intoxicatingly close to the dawn of civilization, where agriculture began some 10,000 years ago, where the wheel, writing, and musical notation were invented. Out in the desert are the magical remains of Palmyra, Apamea, and Ebla. In the National Museum you see small 4,000-year-old panels inlaid with mother-of-pearl that is echoed in the new mother-of-pearl furniture for sale in the souk. Christian Louboutin comes to buy the damask silk brocade they’ve been making here since the Middle Ages for his shoes and bags, and has incidentally purchased a small palace in Aleppo, which, like Damascus, has been inhabited for more than 5,000 years.

The first lady works out of a small white building in a hilly, modern residential neighborhood called Muhajireen, where houses and apartments are crammed together and neighbors peer and wave from balconies. The first impression of Asma al-Assad is movement—a determined swath cut through space with a flash of red soles. Dark-brown eyes, wavy chin-length brown hair, long neck, an energetic grace. No watch, no jewelry apart from Chanel agates around her neck, not even a wedding ring, but fingernails lacquered a dark blue-green. She’s breezy, conspiratorial, and fun. Her accent is English but not plummy. Despite what must be a killer IQ, she sometimes uses urban shorthand: “I was, like. . . .”

Asma Akhras was born in London in 1975, the eldest child and only daughter of a Syrian Harley Street cardiologist and his diplomat wife, both Sunni Muslims. They spoke Arabic at home. She grew up in Ealing, went to Queen’s College, and spent holidays with family in Syria. “I’ve dealt with the sense that people don’t expect Syria to be normal. I’d show my London friends my holiday snaps and they’d be—‘Where did you say you went?’ ”

She studied computer science at university, then went into banking. “It wasn’t a typical path for women,” she says, “but I had it all mapped out.” By the spring of 2000, she was closing a big biotech deal at JP Morgan in London and about to take up an MBA at Harvard. She started dating a family friend: the second son of president Hafez al-Assad, Bashar, who’d cut short his ophthalmology studies in London in 1994 and returned to Syria after his older brother, Basil, heir apparent to power, died in a car crash. They had known each other forever, but a ten-year age difference meant that nothing registered—until it did.

“I was always very serious at work, and suddenly I started to take weekends, or disappear, and people just couldn’t figure it out,” explains the first lady. “What do you say—‘I’m dating the son of a president’? You just don’t say that. Then he became president, so I tried to keep it low-key. Suddenly I was turning up in Syria every month, saying, ‘Granny, I miss you so much!’ I quit in October because by then we knew that we were going to get married at some stage. I couldn’t say why I was leaving. My boss thought I was having a nervous breakdown because nobody quits two months before bonus after closing a really big deal. He wouldn’t accept my resignation. I was, like, ‘Please, really, I just want to get out, I’ve had enough,’ and he was ‘Don’t worry, take time off, it happens to the best of us.’ ” She left without her bonus in November and married Bashar al-Assad in December.

“What I’ve been able to take away from banking was the transferable skills—the analytical thinking, understanding the business side of running a company—to run an NGO or to try and oversee a project.” She runs her office like a business, chairs meeting after meeting, starts work many days at six, never breaks for lunch, and runs home to her children at four. “It’s my time with them, and I get them fresh, unedited—I love that. I really do.” Her staff are used to eating when they can. “I have a rechargeable battery,” she says.

The 35-year-old first lady’s central mission is to change the mind-set of six million Syrians under eighteen, encourage them to engage in what she calls “active citizenship.” “It’s about everyone taking shared responsibility in moving this country forward, about empowerment in a civil society. We all have a stake in this country; it will be what we make it.”

In 2005 she founded Massar, built around a series of discovery centers where children and young adults from five to 21 engage in creative, informal approaches to civic responsibility. Massar’s mobile Green Team has touched 200,000 kids across Syria since 2005. The organization is privately funded through donations. The Syria Trust for Development, formed in 2007, oversees Massar as well as her first NGO, the rural micro-credit association FIRDOS, and SHABAB, which exists to give young people business skills they need for the future.

And then there’s her cultural mission: “People tend to see Syria as artifacts and history,” she says. “For us it’s about the accumulation of cultures, traditions, values, customs. It’s the difference between hardware and software: the artifacts are the hardware, but the software makes all the difference—the customs and the spirit of openness. We have to make sure that we don’t lose that. . . . ” Here she gives an apologetic grin. “You have to excuse me, but I’m a banker—that brand essence.”

That brand essence includes the distant past. There are 500,000 important ancient works of art hidden in storage; Asma al-Assad has brought in the Louvre to create a network of museums and cultural attractions across Syria, and asked Italian experts to help create a database of the 5,000 archaeological sites in the desert. “Culture,” she says, “is like a financial asset. We have an abundance of it, thousands of years of history, but we can’t afford to be complacent.”

In December, Asma al-Assad was in Paris to discuss her alliance with the Louvre. She dazzled a tough French audience at the International Diplomatic Institute, speaking without notes. “I’m not trying to disguise culture as anything more than it is,” she said, “and if I sound like I’m talking politics, it’s because we live in a politicized region, a politicized time, and we are affected by that.”

The French ambassador to Syria, Eric Chevallier, was there: “She managed to get people to consider the possibilities of a country that’s modernizing itself, that stands for a tolerant secularism in a powder-keg region, with extremists and radicals pushing in from all sides—and the driving force for that rests largely on the shoulders of one couple. I hope they’ll make the right choices for their country and the region. ”

Damascus evokes a dusty version of a Mediterranean hill town in an Eastern-bloc country. The courtyard of the Umayyad Mosque at night looks exactly like St. Mark’s square in Venice. When I first arrive, I’m met on the tarmac by a minder, who gives me a bouquet of white roses and lends me a Syrian cell phone; the head minder, a high-profile American PR, joins us the next day. The first lady’s office has provided drivers, so I shop and see sights in a bubble of comfort and hospitality. On the rare occasions I am out alone, a random series of men in leather jackets seems to be keeping close tabs on what I am doing and where I am headed.

“I like things I can touch. I like to get out and meet people and do things,” the first lady says as we set off for a meeting in a museum and a visit to an orphanage. “As a banker, you have to be so focused on the job at hand that you lose the experience of the world around you. My husband gave me back something I had lost.”

She slips behind the wheel of a plain SUV, a walkie-talkie and her cell thrown between the front seats and a Syrian-silk Louboutin tote on top. She does what the locals do—swerves to avoid crazy men who run across busy freeways, misses her turn, checks your seat belt, points out sights, and then can’t find a parking space. When a traffic cop pulls her over at a roundabout, she lowers the tinted window and dips her head with a playful smile. The cop’s eyes go from slits to saucers.

Her younger brother Feras, a surgeon who moved to Syria to start a private health-care group, says, “Her intelligence is both intellectual and emotional, and she’s a master at harmonizing when, and how much, to use of each one.”

In the Saint Paul orphanage, maintained by the Melkite–Greek Catholic patriarchate and run by the Basilian sisters of Aleppo, Asma sits at a long table with the children. Two little boys in new glasses and thick sweaters are called Yussuf. She asks them what kind of music they like. “Sad music,” says one. In the room where she’s had some twelve computers installed, the first lady tells a nun, “I hope you’re letting the younger children in here go crazy on the computers.” The nun winces: “The children are afraid to learn in case they don’t have access to computers when they leave here,” she says.

In the courtyard by the wall down which Saint Paul escaped in a basket 2,000 years ago, an old tree bears gigantic yellow fruit I have never seen before. Citrons. Cédrats in French.

Back in the car, I ask what religion the orphans are. “It’s not relevant,” says Asma al-Assad. “Let me try to explain it to you. That church is a part of my heritage because it’s a Syrian church. The Umayyad Mosque is the third-most-important holy Muslim site, but within the mosque is the tomb of Saint John the Baptist. We all kneel in the mosque in front of the tomb of Saint John the Baptist. That’s how religions live together in Syria—a way that I have never seen anywhere else in the world. We live side by side, and have historically. All the religions and cultures that have passed through these lands—the Armenians, Islam, Christianity, the Umayyads, the Ottomans—make up who I am.”

“Does that include the Jews?” I ask.

“And the Jews,” she answers. “There is a very big Jewish quarter in old Damascus.”

The Jewish quarter of Damascus spans a few abandoned blocks in the old city that emptied out in 1992, when most of the Syrian Jews left. Their houses are sealed up and have not been touched, because, as people like to tell you, Syrians don’t touch the property of others. The broken glass and sagging upper floors tell a story you don’t understand—are the owners coming back to claim them one day?

The presidential family lives surrounded by neighbors in a modern apartment in Malki. On Friday, the Muslim day of rest, Asma al-Assad opens the door herself in jeans and old suede stiletto boots, hair in a ponytail, the word happiness spelled out across the back of her T-shirt. At the bottom of the stairs stands the off-duty president in jeans—tall, long-necked, blue-eyed. A precise man who takes photographs and talks lovingly about his first computer, he says he was attracted to studying eye surgery “because it’s very precise, it’s almost never an emergency, and there is very little blood.”

The old al-Assad family apartment was remade into a child-friendly triple-decker playroom loft surrounded by immense windows on three sides. With neither shades nor curtains, it’s a fishbowl. Asma al-Assad likes to say, “You’re safe because you are surrounded by people who will keep you safe.” Neighbors peer in, drop by, visit, comment on the furniture. The president doesn’t mind: “This curiosity is good: They come to see you, they learn more about you. You don’t isolate yourself.”

There’s a decorated Christmas tree. Seven-year-old Zein watches Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland on the president’s iMac; her brother Karim, six, builds a shark out of Legos; and nine-year-old Hafez tries out his new electric violin. All three go to a Montessori school.

Asma al-Assad empties a box of fondue mix into a saucepan for lunch. The household is run on wildly democratic principles. “We all vote on what we want, and where,” she says. The chandelier over the dining table is made of cut-up comic books. “They outvoted us three to two on that.”

A grid is drawn on a blackboard, with ticks for each member of the family. “We were having trouble with politeness, so we made a chart: ticks for when they spoke as they should, and a cross if they didn’t.” There’s a cross next to Asma’s name. “I shouted,” she confesses. “I can’t talk about empowering young people, encouraging them to be creative and take responsibility, if I’m not like that with my own children.”

“The first challenge for us was, Who’s going to define our lives, us or the position?” says the president. “We wanted to live our identity honestly.”

They announced their marriage in January 2001, after the ceremony, which they kept private. There was deliberately no photograph of Asma. “The British media picked that up as: Now she’s moved into the presidential palace, never to be seen again!” says Asma, laughing.

They had a reason: “She spent three months incognito,” says the president. “Before I had any official engagement,” says the first lady, “I went to 300 villages, every governorate, hospitals, farms, schools, factories, you name it—I saw everything to find out where I could be effective. A lot of the time I was somebody’s ‘assistant’ carrying the bag, doing this and that, taking notes. Nobody asked me if I was the first lady; they had no idea.”

“That way,” adds the president, “she started her NGO before she was ever seen in public as my wife. Then she started to teach people that an NGO is not a charity.”

Neither of them believes in charity for the sake of charity. “We have the Iraqi refugees,” says the president. “Everybody is talking about it as a political problem or as welfare, charity. I say it’s neither—it’s about cultural philosophy. We have to help them. That’s why the first thing I did is to allow the Iraqis to go into schools. If they don’t have an education, they will go back as a bomb, in every way: terrorism, extremism, drug dealers, crime. If I have a secular and balanced neighbor, I will be safe.”

When Angelina Jolie came with Brad Pitt for the United Nations in 2009, she was impressed by the first lady’s efforts to encourage empowerment among Iraqi and Palestinian refugees but alarmed by the Assads’ idea of safety.

“My husband was driving us all to lunch,” says Asma al-Assad, “and out of the corner of my eye I could see Brad Pitt was fidgeting. I turned around and asked, ‘Is anything wrong?’ ”

“Where’s your security?” asked Pitt.

“So I started teasing him—‘See that old woman on the street? That’s one of them! And that old guy crossing the road?

That’s the other one!’ ” They both laugh.

The president joins in the punch line: “Brad Pitt wanted to send his security guards here to come and get some training!”

After lunch, Asma al-Assad drives to the airport, where a Falcon 900 is waiting to take her to Massar in Latakia, on the coast. When she lands, she jumps behind the wheel of another SUV waiting on the tarmac. This is the kind of surprise visit she specializes in, but she has no idea how many kids will turn up at the community center on a rainy Friday.

As it turns out, it’s full. Since the first musical notation was discovered nearby, at Ugarit, the immaculate Massar center in Latakia is built around music. Local kids are jamming in a sound booth; a group of refugee Palestinian girls is playing instruments. Others play chess on wall-mounted computers. These kids have started online blood banks, run marathons to raise money for dialysis machines, and are working on ways to rid Latakia of plastic bags. Apart from a few girls in scarves, you can’t tell Muslims from Christians.

Asma al-Assad stands to watch a laborious debate about how—and whether—to standardize the Arabic spelling of the word Syria. Then she throws out a curve ball. “I’ve been advised that we have to close down this center so as to open another one somewhere else,” she says. Kids’ mouths drop open. Some repress tears. Others are furious. One boy chooses altruism: “That’s OK. We know how to do it now; we’ll help them.”

Then the first lady announces, “That wasn’t true. I just wanted to see how much you care about Massar.”

As the pilot expertly avoids sheet lightning above the snow-flecked desert on the way back, she explains, “There was a little bit of formality in what they were saying to me; it wasn’t real. Tricks like this help—they became alive, they became passionate. We need to get past formalities if we are going to get anything done.”

Two nights later it’s the annual Christmas concert by the children of Al-Farah Choir, run by the Syrian Catholic Father Elias Zahlawi. Just before it begins, Bashar and Asma al-Assad slip down the aisle and take the two empty seats in the front row. People clap, and some call out his nickname:

Two hundred children dressed variously as elves, reindeers, or candy canes share the stage with members of the national orchestra, who are done up as elves. The show becomes a full-on songfest, with the elves and reindeer and candy canes giving their all to “Hallelujah” and “Joy to the World.” The carols slide into a more serpentine rhythm, an Arabic rap group takes over, and then it’s back to Broadway mode. The president whispers, “All of these styles belong to our culture. This is how you fight extremism—through art.”

Brass bells are handed out. Now we’re all singing “Jingle Bell Rock,” 1,331 audience members shaking their bells, singing, crying, and laughing.

“This is the diversity you want to see in the Middle East,” says the president, ringing his bell. “This is how you can have peace!”


The Damask Rose

It’s interesting that the title of the Vogue article would have contained the words “Rose of the Desert.” Syria, of course, is a major cultivation center of the Damask rose, a species of flower highly prized for its fragrance and used in the production of rose oil and rose water.

Below is a report on the rose harvest in Syria posted by China TV earlier this year. The reporter makes a good point: “Life and light are stronger than death and darkness.”

Attack on RT Is Another Step Towards Sovietization of American Media

Attack on RT Is Another Step Towards Sovietization of American Media

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/11/18/attack-rt-another-step-towards-sovietization-american-media.html

Attack on RT Is Another Step Towards Sovietization of American Media

Attack on RT Is Another Step Towards Sovietization of American Media

This week the US Department of Justice Criminal Division forced the Russian-funded television network RT (formerly Russia Today) to register as a “foreign agent” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Failure to comply would have risked arrest of RT’s management and seizure of its assets. The move comes on the heels of Senators’ recent demands that terrified tech giants Twitter, Facebook, and Google act as ideological filters.

With no discernable defenders among America’s media establishment, RT rightly denounced the selective FARA mandate as an attack on media freedom – which it is. But more ominous is what the move against RT says about America’s rulers’ further intention to limit the sources of information available to its subjects.

As Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute writes:

“RT America is a news organization operating in the United States that is funded at least partly by a foreign government. So is the BBC. So is Deutsche Welle, France24, Al-Jazeera, and numerous other foreign media organizations. It is assumed that they all to a degree reflect the editorial interests of those who pay the bills.

“The same is true with other, non-state funded media outlets, of course. It’s up to us to factor these things in when we consume media. That’s what it means to be a free people.

“A core value in a free society is that our own government has zero power over what we read, what we watch, how we think, how we come to interpret current events, the conclusions we draw based on these inputs, and so on. These are private matters over which any government that is not tyrannical should have no sway.

“The real insidiousness of tyrannical systems is that the government most lasciviously seeks control over most private spaces — including the most private space called our brain, our intellect, our conscience. We must be free to follow our interests down whatever path they may lead us so that we may reach our own conclusions and then perhaps test them ourselves in the marketplace of ideas.”

The attack on RT (and another Russian network, Sputnik, which evidently has not yet been given a deadline for registration) is a milestone in the degeneration of the American official (call them what you want – corporate, legacy, mainstream) media into PR agencies for the governing establishment and its ideological imperatives. We’ve been moving along this path for a while now, and it’s going to get worse.

Long gone are those halcyon days of yore when Americans could just sit back and watch CBS’s Walter Cronkite with total confidence they were getting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. (For youngsters who have no idea who the hell Cronkite was, just Google “most trusted man in America.”) Back in the naïve infancy of the TV age, from about the 1950s until the beginning of the 1990s, there was a common national media culture that reflected the established, generally liberal, mainly Democratic tilt of the American inteligentsiya that was almost uniform among the (then only) three networks and a handful of major newspapers and magazines. To be sure, that was also a ruling class media of a sort, but it reflected a broad and deep social consensus.

Those days are no more. Perhaps the unraveling of media trust and social consensus alike started in earnest with Vietnam. But still, for decades afterwards there still seemed to be plenty of empty cranial receptacles for government and corporate propaganda of the first Gulf War under Bush 41, Bill Clinton’s phony humanitarian wars in the Balkans, Bush 43’s Iraq War, and Obama’s Libyan and Syrian imbroglios. Sadly, there are many such cranial receptacles even today.

By its attack on RT, the US government is officially telling us that only the mainstream media (MSM) can be regarded as are purveyors of Truth (with a capital T) and that anybody not on the approved list is fake. How do we know? Why, the MSM themselves tell us! The Washington Post’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” CNN’s “Facts First.” The New York Times’ “The Truth is Hard.” (The fact that certifiably authoritative and truthful media are militantly hostile to Russia, not to mention to Donald Trump, is purely coincidental.)

A lot of Americans don’t buy it anymore, though. Some of the skepticism falls along purely partisan lines reflecting increasing moral and political polarization: our media (which I exclusively consult) tells the truth, but your media (which I don’t consult) are liars. About one-third of Americans get their talking points from, say, Michael Moore, and from Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, with their related internet echoes, while another third gets theirs from Rush Limbaugh, and from Sean Hannity on Fox News, and their internet echo chambers. Increasingly, there is nothing like a national dialogue on anything, but rather two entirely separate, diametrically opposed ideological cultures – and alternate realities – each demonizing “them.” This is why when after Barack Obama’s election the Tea Party appeared, the GOP fell over itself trying to co-opt them, while the Democrats denounced them as a mob of racists and subversives. When later the “Occupy” and Black Lives Matter movements broke out on the Left, the Democrats tried to figure out how to channel it while top Republicans denounced it as gang of commie anarchists and losers.

With the election of Donald Trump the divide intensified further to one of latent civil war.

At some point the false picture of pseudo-reality (as Alain Besançon called it in the late Soviet propaganda context) diverges so far from real reality that the official media narrative becomes useless and even counterproductive. While a majority of Americans probably are still glued to the partisan outlets of “their” side of the political divide, there is a growing sense across the spectrum that not only the MSM but even partisan media like Fox News and MSNBC are untrustworthy.

In the past, notably in the totalitarian societies of the 20th century, maintaining the credibility of official media required the physical repression of alternatives. Today, such a crude approach is unnecessary and almost technologically unfeasible, even for such undemocratic countries as Iran, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia (though North Korea may be successful through the sheer unavailability of modern communications technology to most of the population). Instead of suppressing dissent, is it sufficient to maintain major media’s role as gatekeeper and certifier of reliability.

Which brings us back to the impact of foreign media like RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation, Al-Jazeera, CGTN, Press TV, often in parallel with alternative media like Zero Hedge, Lew Rockwell, Antiwar.com, Ron Paul Institute, and others, to break through the information firewall but arguably then being influenced by the agenda of the sponsoring foreign governments. In any case, a growing segment of the American public is discovering a skill once well-honed by the citizens of the former communist countries: reading between the lines of the official media (which is assumed to be full of lies) and making informed comparisons to samizdat alternative media, foreign sources, and the rumor-mill to guess what the truth might be.

Make no mistake – what has started with RT won’t end with RT. Our betters have decided they need to protect our minds from “propaganda” penetration that might cause us to doubt the truth of what CNN and the Washington Post tell us.

Citizens! Be grateful for such wise leaders and dedicated information workers! Smash the enemy voices that seek to undermine our democracy as we march boldly into the radiant future!

Why does RT have to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act but not AIPAC?

Foreign Agents Registration Act Marked by History of Politicization, Selective Enforcement

The singling out of RT for treatment as a foreign agent — while entities such as Al Jazeera and AIPAC are ignored — reflects a history of selective enforcement and the politicization of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Though it garnered renewed interest thanks to Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump administration and the rise of “Russiagate” hysteria, the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938 has been irregularly enforced over the course of its 79-year history. Despite nearly eight decades on the books, the law has resulted in only a handful of prosecutions and a single conviction, suggesting that the government’s enforcement of the law has been lax — to say the least.Originally intended to counter pro-Nazi lobbyists active in the United States in the lead-up to World War II, FARA requires that all agents operating domestically on behalf of a “foreign principal” — that is, a non-U.S. entity operating abroad — must register with the U.S. Department of Justice. Those who register must disclose all of their activities and finances to the federal government, including confidential data and the personal information of employees.

There are, however, many exceptions to those who must register, such as diplomats, artists, priests, and “any news or press service organized under the laws of the United States.” In other words, a law firm lobbying for a foreign government or company must register while news services funded by foreign governments — like Al Jazeera, France24, BBC or Deutsche Welle — are — generally — off the hook.

<img src=”http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/themes/core/images/ads/ad-mp-squigl.jpg” class=”no-thickbox”/>This last exception is why the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement on Thursday that the TV news channel Russia Today (RT), which receives its funding from the Russian government and a consortium of Russian banks, must register as a foreign agent came as a surprise to many. RT, which has been active in the U.S. since 2005, is suddenly being asked to register as a foreign agent under FARA, only after political pressure against Russian entities and perceived state actors reached a boiling point.

To be sure, the U.S. government has toyed with the idea of shutting down RT in recent years. In 2015, the then-chief of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Andrew Lack, — responsible for overseeing U.S.-funded news agencies such as Voice of America and Radio Liberty — equated RT’s news coverage to terrorist groups such as Daesh (Islamic State) and Boko Haram. A week later, then-Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland discussed curbing the channel’s operations in response to its coverage of the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine.

 

FARA enforcement selective and inconsistent

Al-Jazeera America editorial newsroom staff preparing for their first broadcast in New York. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)

Al-Jazeera America editorial newsroom staff preparing for their first broadcast in New York. (AP/Bebeto Matthews)

Upon RT’s imminent registration as a “foreign agent,” it would be one of the few media outlets to do so in FARA’s history, joining a few state-funded outlets such as Japan’s NHK and the China Daily newspaper.

However, many other state-funded outlets with operations similar to RT continue to operate within the United States without the designation and accompanying scrutiny, of acting as a foreign agent. This has held true even in cases where use of the news outlet by a foreign government to exert influence is well-documented.

For instance, the international news channel Al Jazeera – funded entirely by the government of Qatar – has never been forced to register as a foreign agent, despite operating a U.S.-focused branch and  even though leaked State Department cables from 2009 noted that the U.S. government has long viewed Al Jazeera to be “an instrument of Qatari influence.” The cable also notes that the government of Qatar regularly uses Al Jazeera “as a bargaining tool to repair relationships with other countries, particularly those soured by Al Jazeera’s broadcasts, including the United States.”

In addition to Al Jazeera, numerous other state-funded news outlets function within the United States but are not required to register as foreign agents, even when they mirror the bias of their own governments. For example, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is funded by the U.K. Foreign Office. In its coverage of the Syrian conflict, the BBC has consistently supported the foreign-funded Syrian opposition in its reporting, including fawning coverage of the White Helmets group, which – like the BBC – is largely funded by the U.K. Foreign Office. However, BBC’s Syria coverage fit with the U.S. narrative at the time, unlike RT’s Syria coverage.

Further illustrating the inconsistencies in the government’s application of FARA to foreign entities is the fact that some individuals and organizations that specifically lobby the government on behalf of foreign governments have successfully eluded registering under FARA despite past government attempts to make them do so. For example, the Podesta Group, the lobbying firm founded by Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chair John Podesta and his brother Tony, failed to register under FARA while lobbying on behalf of the Russian government-owned company Uranium One, despite having collected $180,000 in lobbying fees in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to members of the audience before speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, Monday, March 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to members of the audience before speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, Monday, March 2, 2015. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Another relevant example of an unregistered group lobbying on behalf of a foreign government is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which describes itself as “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby” — essentially acknowledging that it lobbies the U.S. government on behalf of the Israeli government. According to its website, AIPAC “urges all members of Congress to support Israel through foreign aid, government partnerships, [and] joint anti-terrorism efforts.”

Despite this, AIPAC has avoided registering as a foreign agent for 55 years — with the last attempt to compel it to register as such taking place in 1962-63, when the Kennedy administration sought to force its predecessor, the American Zionist Council, to register and open its finances to federal scrutiny.

Since then, AIPAC has been instrumental in ensuring the continuation of billions of dollars in U.S. aid to Israel annually despite Israel’s strong economy. It has also engaged in espionage. For instance, after receiving classified presidential directives and other documents pertaining to America’s Iran policy from a U.S. colonel in 2005, AIPAC then forwarded that highly sensitive information to Israeli government officials as well as to select members of the U.S. media.

Given the inconsistencies of treatment, as well as the milieu of anti-Russia hysteria that has become rapidly normalized in U.S. politics over the last year, the DOJ’s decision to force RT to register as a foreign agent seems to be the latest indication that the Trump administration is bowing to political pressure to punish Russian entities and businesses over the government’s alleged “meddling” in last year’s election — an allegation that has yet to be proven.

Top photo | A portion of the website for the website fara.gov, on the Foreign Agents Registration Act, is photographed in Washington, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP/Jon Elswick)

The BBC Exposed

The BBC Exposed

For much of its 80 year existence, the BBC has been criticized by those who believe it to be an insidious mixture of political and cultural power, and now in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, the British public is once again outraged at their national broadcaster. Join us today on The Corbett Report as we examine the history, function, and institutional biases of the BBC, and how the British people are rising up against the Big Brother Corporation.

Russian Foreign Ministry on Syria and US Threats Against RT and Sputnik News

Stephen Lendman

 

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s weekly press briefings are refreshingly straightforward and candid – polar opposite State Department baloney, ducking tough questions, suppressing hard truths.

Despite significant progress in freeing Syria from US-supported terrorists, they remain disruptive, why combating them will continue until they’re eliminated. Russia is committed to the task. In contrast, America supports the scourge it pretends to oppose, terror-bombing civilian targets, destroying vital infrastructure, seeking regime change, Russia committed to prevent it.

Zakharova blasted Washington’s meddling in Russia’s internal affairs, while falsely claiming Moscow interferes in America’s. “(I)t is hard to understand why the United States believes it possible to meddle in the life of other states,” she said.

It’s easy to understand, given Washington’s consistent interference in the internal affairs of countries worldwide, demanding their subservience to US interests, smashing unwilling ones, threatening others.

Demanding a company providing services to RT America register as a foreign agent is unacceptable, Zakharova stressed, more serious than a double standard, violating constitutionally guaranteed press freedom America preaches but doesn’t practice.

Demanding RT disclose its “corporate data, including…the staff list and employees’ personal information, may constitute an actual threat in the current witch-hunt climate in the United States,” Zakharova explained.

RT is a legitimate, highly respected news service, not Russian propaganda as Washington claims.

“There is not a single item of the so-called fake news distributed by the Russian television channel in the US,” said Zakharova. Washington’s intelligence community found no evidence suggesting it.

Unjustifiable criticism of RT and Sputnik News persists. They’re not foreign agents. “(A) huge number of Russian-language information sources, including those in the US that have an audience in Russia, receive funding from the US,” Zakharova explained.

“However, so far they have not been qualified as foreign agents; they withhold their sources of funding and do not register as foreign agents.”

Russia strictly complies with all international laws and regulations, including its media. Any hostile US actions against its broadcasters will be responded to proportionately, Zakharova stressed. “The clock is ticking,” she added.

Putin promised a “tit-for-tat response.” If RT and/or Sputnik broadcasts are blocked in America, its media will be targeted the same way, denied access to a Russian audience.

CNN is ripe for targeting, the most untrustworthy name in news worldwide, a propaganda service, not a legitimate news organization.

On Friday, Moscow accused CNN International of violating Russian media law, breaching the terms of its operating license, an explanation demanded. It’ll be closely monitored and action taken if violations continue.

A statement by Russia’s Federal Service and Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) said the following:

“Violations of Russian law on mass media have been registered in the activity of the TV channel CNN International, which envisages administrative liability under the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation. The representatives of the TV channel have been summoned to Roskomnadzor for consideration of administrative cases.”

Roskomnadzor’s spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky cited systematic CNN violations of Russian law, the broadcaster ordered to correct them.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called increasing pressure on and unfounded accusations against RT and Sputnik in America “unacceptable.”

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Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman)

Preferred Conclusions: The BBC, Syria And Venezuela

Preferred Conclusions: The BBC, Syria And Venezuela
Media Lens

As the late media activist Danny Schechter wrote, when it comes to the corporate broadcast media: ‘The more you watch, the less you know.’

Schechter’s observation only fails in one key respect: ‘mainstream’ output does tell us a lot about which foreign governments are being lined up for regime change.

In 2013, it was remarkable to see the BBC reporting claims from Syria on a daily basis in a way that almost always blamed the Syrian government, and President Assad personally, for horrendous war crimes. But as the New York Times reported last month, the picture was rather less black and white. The US was embroiled in a dirty war that was ‘one of the costliest covert action programs in the history of the C.I.A’, running to ‘more than $1 billion over the life of the program’. Its aim was to support a vast ‘rebel’ army created and armed by the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to overthrow the Syrian government.

The BBC’s relentless headline stories were mostly supplied by ‘activists’ and ‘rebels’ who, in fact, were militants attempting to overthrow Assad, and whose claims could not be verified. Veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn described the problem afflicting virtually all ‘mainstream’ reporting on Syria:

All wars always produce phony atrocity stories – along with real atrocities. But in the Syrian case fabricated news and one-sided reporting have taken over the news agenda to a degree probably not seen since the First World War… The real reason that reporting of the Syrian conflict has been so inadequate is that Western news organisations have almost entirely outsourced their coverage to the rebel side.

There was a simple reason why ‘rebel’ claims were uncontested: they originated from ‘areas controlled by people so dangerous no foreign journalist dare set foot among them’. The additional point being that ‘it has never been plausible that unaffiliated local citizens would be allowed to report freely’.

This was obvious to everyone, doubtless including the BBC, which nevertheless produced a tsunami of ‘rebel’-sourced propaganda. Crucially, these stories were not balanced attempts to explore the various claims; they sought to establish a version of events justifying regime change: ‘rebels’ and ‘activists’ were ‘good’, Assad was ‘bad’ and had to go. Journalist Robert Parry explains:

The job of the media is not to provide as much meaningful information as possible to the people so they can exercise their free judgment; it is to package certain information in a way to guide the people to a preferred conclusion.

The BBC campaign was clearly inspired – whether consciously or otherwise – by a high-level decision to engineer regime change in Syria.

The key moment arrived in August 2013 when the US came very close to launching a major attack against Syrian government forces, supposedly in response to Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, Damascus. Only the UK parliament’s rejection of the case for war and warnings from US generals on doubts about the claims, and likely fallout from regime change, prevented Obama from attacking.

Particularly disturbing was the fact that, as the possibility of a direct US regime change effort faded, so too did the steady flow of BBC atrocity claims. It was as if, with the goal temporarily unattainable, the propaganda tap was simply closed. It was later re-opened ahead of an anticipated, pro-war Clinton presidency, and then as part of an attempt to push president-elect Trump to intensify the Syrian war.

‘Well, Shock, Shock, It’s The Oil!

This year, we have witnessed a comparable BBC propaganda blitz on Venezuela centred around opposition claims that President Maduro has ‘eroded Venezuela’s democratic institutions and mismanaged its economy’.

The BBC campaign has again been characterised by daily reports from Venezuela presenting a black and white picture of the crisis: Maduro ‘bad’, opposition ‘good’. The BBC has again promoted the sense of an escalating crisis that will inevitably and justifiably result in regime change. It is no surprise, then, to learn from the Independent:

The head of the CIA has suggested the agency is working to change the elected government of Venezuela and is collaborating with two countries in the region to do so.

CIA director Mike Pompeo said he was ‘hopeful that there can be a transition in Venezuela and we the CIA is doing its best to understand the dynamic there’.

No eyebrows were raised in a US political culture obsessed with unproven claims of Russian interference in last year’s US presidential elections. Last month, Pompeo’s boss, President Trump, commented on Venezuela:

We don’t talk about it but a military option, a military option is certainly something that we could pursue.

Pompeo’s and Trump’s statements indicate a continuation of US policy that supported a 2002 coup that temporarily overthrew (then) President Chavez and which ‘was closely tied to senior officials in the US government’.

Political analyst Ricardo Vaz notes the ironic fact that ‘many of the opposition leaders’ denouncing Maduro’s alleged attacks on democracy, including Henrique Capriles, Julio Borges, Leopoldo López and Maria Corina Machado, ‘were directly involved in the 2002 coup attempt’.

US interest in Venezuela was explained with admirable candour in a classified US government document from December 12, 1978:

‘OUR FUNDAMENTAL INTERESTS IN VENEZUELA ARE:

1. THAT VENEZUELA CONTINUE TO SUPPLY A SIGNIFICANT PROPORTION OF OUR PETROLEUM IMPORTS AND CONTINUE TO FOLLOW A MODERATE AND RESPONSIBLE OIL PRICE POSITION IN OPEC…’

According to the respected BP ‘Statistical review of world energy’ (June 28, 2015), proven oil reserves in Venezuela are the largest in the world, totalling 297 billion barrels.

The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, naturally shares Trump’s and Pompeo’s view of the country, commenting:

We are evaluating all of our policy options as to what can we do to create a change of conditions where either Maduro decides he doesn’t have a future and wants to leave of his own accord or we can return the government processes back to their constitution. (Our emphasis)

The fact that Tillerson was chairman and chief executive officer of the world’s largest oil company, ExxonMobil, from 2006-2016, having joined the company in 1975, might give cause for pause in considering the ‘change of conditions’ he has in mind. In 2007, the Evening Standard reported:

BP and the other majors are taking a hard line with Chavez, demanding conditions and compensation for [Venezuelan policy changes]… Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson said that unless the negotiations produce a profitable proposal, “we won’t be staying”.’1

And, of course, Trump has left us in no doubt about who is the rightful owner of the world’s oil:

I wasn’t a fan of Iraq, I didn’t want to go into Iraq. But I will tell you – when we were in, we got out wrong. And I always said, in addition to that: “Keep the oil!”… So we shoulda kept the oil. But okay, maybe we’ll have another chance… But the fact is: we shoulda kept the oil.

Our search of the Lexis database (August 30, 2017) for UK national press articles mentioning ‘Tillerson’, ‘Exxon’ and ‘Venezuela’ over the seven months since Tillerson was made Secretary of State generated precisely three hits. None of these discussed oil as a possible motive driving US policy – a taboo subject.

Investigative journalist Greg Palast describes why and when Venezuela became an Official Enemy of the West:

Well, shock, shock, it’s the oil! Chavez, back in 2000, 2001, decided that he wasn’t going to give it away anymore… Big US oil companies were paying a royalty for Venezuela’s super-heavy oil of about 1 per cent – 1 per cent! – okay. And for the regular oil, the heavy oil, it was 16 per cent. So the oil companies were keeping 84 per cent, and Chavez said: “You’re going to have to pay 30 per cent, you can only keep 70 per cent of our oil… You gotta split off a bit for the people of Venezuela.” And, of course, that made him enemy number one – not to Americans, but to America’s landlords, the oil companies.

Regional specialist Mark Weisbrot commented recently on the Venezuelan opposition’s US allies:

These right-wing U.S. politicians – with much cooperation from all of the U.S. administrations of the past 15 years – have consistently fought to overthrow the Venezuelan government. This is all they can think about, regardless of the consequences of escalating violence, increased suffering, or even civil war.

Weisbrot’s overly-optimistic conclusion:

The U.S. strategy of “regime change” has contributed to the death of hundreds of thousands of people — mostly civilians — in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan. It has also had a hideous history in the Americas. Hopefully something has been learned from these crimes and tragedies.

The BBC’s Propaganda Blitz

In numerous ‘reports’, the BBC has presented damning criticism of the Venezuelan government, often with no or nominal balance. We will sample below from a large number of similar offerings with a few related examples from other corporate media.

On May 6, the BBC published a piece titled: ‘Venezuela protests: Women march against Maduro’. The article reported:

The US has also expressed concern about what UN ambassador Nikki Haley called a “violent crackdown”.

At least 36 people have died and hundreds have been injured in weeks of protests.

This gave the impression that a government ‘crackdown’ was responsible for the deaths. But the truth was more mixed. In July, Venezuela Analysis reported that since violent anti-government protests began on April 4, there had been 14 deaths caused by the authorities and 23 direct victims of opposition political violence, with 61 deaths disputed or unaccounted for.

Like so many BBC articles, this one focused on claims that Venezuela is a ‘dictatorship’:

“The dictatorship is living its last days and Maduro knows it,” former MP Maria Corina Machado told AFP news agency at the women’s march.

The BBC even included a comment presumably intended to remind readers of the infamous toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad (in fact orchestrated by US forces):

Meanwhile video posted on social media purportedly showed the pulling down of a small statue of Hugo Chavez in the western town of Rosario de Perija.

In similar vein, a May 9 BBC piece included the comment:

The secretary general of the Organisation of American States (OAS) likened the country to a dictatorship.

While recognising that the Maduro government certainly merits criticism for mishandling the current situation, ‘both economically and politically’, political analyst Greg Wilpert noted that ‘none of the arguments against the democratic legitimacy of the Maduro government hold much water’. Moreover, ‘polls repeatedly indicate that even though Maduro is fairly unpopular, a majority of Venezuelans want him to finish his term in office, which expires in January 2019’.

Western media devoted intense coverage to Maduro’s decision to hold elections for a Constituent Assembly in July. In response, the Trump administration extended sanctions. Mark Weisbrot commented:

The pretext for the sanctions is that the new Constitutional Assembly will essentially carry out a coup d’etat, abolishing the National Assembly – which the opposition won by a wide margin in December 2015 – and allowing President Nicolas Maduro to cancel presidential elections, which are due next year.

But as Weisbrot noted, such a cancellation ‘will not happen automatically’ as a result of the Constituent Assembly election, and so ‘it does not make sense that the sanctions should be triggered by the election itself’.

On May 11, the BBC published ‘Inside Venezuela’s anti-government protests’. The first comment relayed by the BBC:

There’s no freedom of expression here in Venezuela. There’s no freedom of any kind.

Media analyst Joe Emersberger describes the reality:

The biggest lie told over the past fifteen years about Venezuela is that its media is cowed by the government and that it has rendered the opposition voiceless.

He adds:

In fact the protests and the leading opposition leaders’ take on the protests are being extensively covered on the largest private networks: Venevision, Televen, Globovision. If people abroad sampled Venezuela’s TV media directly, as opposed to judging it by what is said about it by the international media and some big NGOs, they’d be shocked to find the opposition constantly denouncing the government and even making very thinly veiled appeals to the military to oust Maduro.

The BBC’s second quoted opinion:

‘e’re here to put an end to the dictatorship in Venezuela, so that our children can grow up in a free Venezuela.

There was no balance and there have been no similar compilations looking ‘inside’ Venezuela’s pro-government protests. One would hardly guess that Maduro was elected president on April 14, 2013 in a democratic election.

In a May 12 report, ‘Venezuela protests: a week in pictures’, the BBC included two successive photo captions, which read:

People angry with the government of President Nicolas Maduro have been taking to the streets almost daily since the beginning of April.

And:

Many have been injured, and there have been close to 40 protest-related deaths.

This again suggested that people ‘angry with the government’ had been killed. Opposition violence has included bomb attacks on police, grenades thrown at the supreme court building from a helicopter, a government supporter burned alive, shootings, attempted lynchings, and so on. This violence was not mentioned by Paul Mason when he condemned ‘Maduro’s crackdown’ in the Guardian. A New York Times op-ed under the title, ‘Venezuela Needs International Intervention. Now.,’ commented in similar vein:

President Nicolás Maduro has responded with an iron fist. More than 50 people have been killed, 1,000 injured, and 2,700 arrested…

The bomb attack on Venezuelan National Guard soldiers shown in this video, severely injuring several of the soldiers and cheered by people watching, would, of course, have been described by all US-UK media as a ‘terror attack’, if it had happened in the West.

The Guardian published a similar photo gallery of anti-government protestors, but not of pro-government protestors. The compilation came with remarkable captions of this kind:

Drawing inspiration from Ukraine’s 2013-14 revolt, young protesters in Venezuela carry Viking-like shields as they battle government security forces during protests against President Nicolás Maduro

One photo caption read:

‘”Miraflores on fire” is written on the front of this shield. Miraflores Palace is the president’s official workplace’

Another:

The opposition says President Maduro has created a dictatorship. The last parliamentary vote held in 2015 gave the opposition a majority but the government has repeatedly blocked any attempts to oust Maduro

The BBC’s May 16 piece was titled, ‘Venezuela: Teenager killed as mass protests rage’. A May 18 BBC piece maintained the sense of developing crisis: ‘Venezuela: Soldiers sent to quell looting amid protests’. On May 22, a BBC report opened with these words:

“Venezuela is now a dictatorship,” says Luis Ugalde, a Spanish-born Jesuit priest who during his 60 years living in Venezuela has become one of the South American nation’s most well-known political scientists.

The BBC later offered another ‘inside’ look at anti-government protestors: ‘Apathy to activism: Venezuelan students on why they protest.’ Mario Bonucci, rector of the University of the Andes, was quoted:

This is an institution where you can speak your mind freely without fear of repercussion and that’s uncomfortable for this government.

A remark that again ignored the fact that widespread criticism of Maduro’s government is published and broadcast by many Venezuelan media. The BBC offered no balancing comment.

The 2002 Coup: Telling Omissions

On July 9, the BBC wrote of opposition leader Leopoldo López:

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has praised the decision to release from prison one of the country’s main opposition leaders, Leopoldo López…

Mr López was serving a 14-year sentence for inciting violence during anti-government protests in 2014, a charge he has always denied. The Supreme Court said he was released on health grounds.

There is rather more to be said about Lopez. Venezuela Analysis commented:

Lopez is also well known in Venezuela for his active participation in the April 2002 coup against the democratically elected president Hugo Chávez. During the coup, using his authority as Mayor of Chacao, he led the illegal arrest of Minister of Justice Ramón Rodríguez Chacín.

The report continued:

In a joint appeal with Maria Corina Machado, López called on citizens to join his “La Salida” campaign (“The Way Out”), described the government as a “dictatorship” and called on Venezuelans to “rise up” emulating the example of January 23, 1958 (when a popular uprising overthrew the Perez Jimenez dictatorship). The message was clear: Venezuela was a dictatorship, the government had to be overthrown by force.

The Guardian also reported on Lopez:

Security agents have since seized two opposition leaders from their homes after they called for protests against the vote.

Joe Emersberger pointed out some telling omissions:

Umm no. Leopoldo Lopez – while already under house arrest – made a video in which he called for a military coup. Don’t try this while under house arrest in the UK, where you can get put away for Facebook posts advocating a riot (even if you are not under house arrest at the time).

Writing for OffGuardian, Ricardo Vaz asked of corporate media performance:

Why is there never a mention that the opposition leadership is full of protagonists from that US-backed military coup that ultimately failed? Quite simply because it would undermine the entire “democracy vs. dictatorship” propaganda narrative.

Numerous journalists have attempted to use the Venezuelan crisis to also attack Jeremy Corbyn as part of the relentless smear campaign against him. In The Times, David Aaronovitch wrote of the Venezuelan revolution:

I believe we need to know why you [Jeremy Corbyn] think it’s failed.

This from the columnist who has tirelessly backed wars of ‘liberation’ generating mass death and utter disaster in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Conclusion:  Enforcing “The Truth”

The goal of a mass media propaganda campaign is to create the impression that ‘everybody knows’ that Saddam is a ‘threat’, Gaddafi is ‘about to commit mass murder’, Assad ‘has to go’, Corbyn is ‘destroying the Labour party’, and so on. The picture of the world presented must be clear-cut. The public must be made to feel certain that the ‘good guys’ are basically benevolent, and the ‘bad guys’ are absolutely appalling and must be removed.

This is achieved by relentless repetition of the theme over days, weeks, months and even years. Numerous individuals and organisations are used to give the impression of an informed consensus – there is no doubt! Once this ‘truth’ has been established, anyone contradicting or even questioning it is typically portrayed as a shameful ‘apologist’ in order to deter further dissent and enforce conformity.

A key to countering this propaganda is to ask some simple questions: Why are US-UK governments and corporate media much more concerned about suffering in Venezuela than the far worse horrors afflicting war-torn, famine-stricken Yemen? Why do UK MPs rail against Maduro while rejecting a parliamentary motion to suspend UK arms supplies to their Saudi Arabian allies attacking Yemen? Why is the imperfect state of democracy in Venezuela a source of far greater outrage than outright tyranny in Saudi Arabia? The answers could hardly be more obvious.

YOUTUBE EXPANDS CENSORSHIP, BLOCKS SANA AND HEZBOLLAH MEDIA WING IN SYRIA

SOUTH FRONT

18.07.2017

Youtube Expands Censorship, Blocks SANA And Hezbollah Media Wing In Syria

Youtube has expanded its efforts to censor alternative sources of the information about the conflict in Syria. Last week, Youtube banned the channel of Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), a Syrian state-run media supporting the Assad government. This week, Youtube banned the channel of the Syrian Military Media, a Hezbollah media wing in Syria.

YouTube shut down the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) channel . pic.twitter.com/YrmFbbmF5X

This censorship campaign is likely a part of the wider attempt to counter the non-mainstream reporting about the conflict. The mainstream media and their corporate sponsors have repeatedly discridited themselves during the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Thus, the corporations have likely decided that the total censorship is the only way to opress alternative points of view.

The Fight Against Media Terrorism

“Blatant lies, which used to be the prerogative of tabloid outlets, have now been adopted by well respected media outlets.” — Margarita Simonyan

Yesterday I put up a post about a speech given on July 4 by RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan before the visiting Chinese delegation in Moscow. Here is a video of her talk. The full speech, as you will see, included a few key comments that didn’t make it into yesterday’s report, including the quote above.

As you can also see, Simonyan urged her Chinese colleagues to join her in the fight against “media terrorism.” She has chosen a good way of describing it. By reporting lies, the mainstream media are essentially committing acts of terror. Information is a weapon–no different from tanks, missiles, or artillery–and when weapons are misused (just as when information is turned into misinformation) innocent people can die as a result.

Hopefully the Chinese will soon launch their own equivalent to RT and Press TV. I have a feeling they will, and I also have a feeling it won’t stop with China. I think we’ll also see more and more citizen journalism. Project Veritas is a good example of the latter.

It is not surprising that a producer at CNN thinks the American people are “stupid as sh*t.” The American people aren’t stupid. But they are misinformed. And who is mainly responsible for that? The mainstream media. And this is what makes a comment like this, from a young punk working at CNN, so utterly loathsome.

In case you missed it, RT has a report out today about the response to threats made by CNN against the maker of a video posted recently by Donald Trump. The article includes a quote from a Reddit moderator who expresses the view that the entire Internet basically is turning against CNN.

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“CNN has all of the Internet against them right now, and when organizations attack freedom of speech, it never ends up well for them,” he said.

He may not be far off the mark. You can go here to read about a recent poll which found that 65 percent of Americans believe the mainstream media regularly publish fake news.

I’m not usually optimistic by nature, but I can visualize a future in which sentiments like these among the public continue to build until eventually the mainstream media succeed in neutralizing themselves–that is until they essentially become extinct like dinosaurs. The only way, in fact, I think they are going to be able to stop this is by shutting down the Internet or effectively shutting it down through excessive regulation, and by blocking out websites like RT and Press TV. But I don’t think this will ultimately be successful.

Just as there are black markets, I think we would see “black Internets” spring up which would offer access to the blocked out sites. The days in which six corporate media conglomerates are able to control everything people see on TV, hear on radio, or read in books, newspapers, and magazines–those days are actually numbered, I believe. Which is not to say that our future is going to be rosy, but at least in this one respect it will be better than the situation which exists at present.

The media’s capacity for committing acts of terrorism, in other words, will, I think, be greatly diminished. The fight against media terrorism will ultimately be successful.

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