New Zealand mosque attacks: Politicians and media have blood on their hands

By Siema Iqbal

ICH

March 15, 2019 “Information Clearing House” –  We woke to news of at least 49 Muslims murdered in New Zealand by far-right fanatics.

We watched – or consciously avoided watching – in horror the live-streamed footage of Muslims being gunned down while praying. How depraved has society become when social media is used to lionise massacres?

I had to tell my children about the attack. I told them not to watch the videos or to be afraid of being who they are: Muslims.

Spreading hatred

Today, the media and politicians like American president Donald Trump and former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, have condemned the attacks. The same media and the same politicians have helped spread hatred against Muslims and Islam. They have blood on their hands.

This terrible mass murder was committed on the other side of the world supposedly in the name of “Europe”. There are lessons for us here in Britain, just as there are across the world.

This hatred is institutional. We knew Islamophobia was endemic in the Conservative party, but we turned a blind eye. Not anymore.

Siema Iqbal@siemaiqbal

This senator is Australian.

He has blood on his hands .

Call out the bigotry and hold people responsible.

Enough is enough.

Do not dare say that Islamophobia does not exist. The media and politicians must be held to account.

If we allow fanatics to turn up outside mosques with their banners of hate, and give airtime and social media platforms to the likes of Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins, this is what happens.

If we continue to allow “think-tanks” to provide ammunition to parliamentarians and far-right leaders under the guise of “credible reports”, this is what happens.

Worldwide bigotry

This type of hatred is not confined to any country, but is widespread across the world.

Muslims are imprisoned in China; there are attacks on Muslims by Hindu nationalists in India; Rohingya Muslims are being ethnically cleansed in Myanmar. All of this is done in the name of tackling “extremism”, while ignoring the bigotry all around us.

Politicians might speak of their concern for the victims and families, but on a daily basis, many people are targeted by the far-right, as politicians have enabled a destructive discourse.

It’s time to admit that the UK’s Prevent strategy is not working. The “war on terror” has only fuelled hatred of Muslims in the general population, and distrust of the state among Muslim communities.

In 2013, the UK nearly suffered a similar attack against multiple mosques. Mosque security should be a major priority going forward.

Standing strong

Although Facebook was quick to remove a graphic video of the Christchurch attack, why was no action taken in response to previous posts threatening violence against Muslims?

How many more innocent people have to die before governments take a long, hard look at their role in creating this mess?

While many far-right extremists are celebrating the New Zealand attack, as a Muslim, I can promise you this: The more you attack us, the stronger and more united Muslims will become.

Today, the mosques will be packed – more than ever before – as prayers are offered for those killed. Muslims will never be afraid of bowing down to Allah, and nothing will stop us from doing so.

Siema Iqbal is a mother, a doctor and a British Muslim opinion writer based in Manchester. She is currently a partner and trainer at a North Manchester GP practice. She enjoys writing and can often be found public speaking and raising money and awareness for charities both in the UK and abroad.

This article was originally published by MEE” –

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(Urgent): YouTube terminates Middle East Observer after almost 10 years online

Source

March 08, 2019

After almost 10 years online, over 250 videos, almost 13,000 subscribers, and about 8 million total video views, YouTube has terminated the Middle East Observer (MEO) channel on its platform.

Although perhaps MEO became best known for its video translations of regional political actors such as Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, its work was certainly not limited to that. Middle East Observer sought to provide its viewers with reliable English translations on politics, religion, and culture from the Middle East more broadly, with a particular focus on media from key states such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The termination of MEO’s channel came after several months of seemingly routine ‘violation’ emails sent to us by YouTube, the taking down of various videos of ours (most of which were uploaded several years ago) and the imposition of ‘channel strikes’ accompanied by emails about how we could better uphold its rather vague and in many ways hegemonic ‘Community Guidelines’. We gradually realised that no matter what measures we took, it would not satisfy YouTube’s ‘Guidelines’, as the platform’s architecture and policies increasingly moved towards the censorship of alternative news and views.

This censorship process against MEO began several years earlier, when YouTube deactivated our ability to monetise the absolute majority of our videos, classifying them as “Non-advertiser friendly”. Needless to say, this demonetisation regime has increasingly been criticised by many observers and major ‘YouTubers’ in recent years. They argued that the “Non-advertiser friendly” label was deeply ideological, as it worked to effectively censor (no funds = less ability to produce content) alternative and non-mainstream narratives while continuing to portray YouTube as a democratic and transparent media platform.

To bypass reliance on YouTube advertising revenue, we tried various options over the years, the last of which being an up-until-now successful experience on Patreon (here’s our page), where after only a few months 17 of our global viewers/readers joined the highly flexible crowd sourcing platform to fund our work and keep it going. Truly without their support we would not have been able to continue producing translations consistently (by all means support us to help us expand our work too).

Nevertheless, we believe that the termination of our channel today is a great blow to the coverage on YouTube of voices, news, and perspectives found on Arab and Islamic media that are rarely covered – or even purposefully silenced – by Western mainstream media.

YouTube’s message today is clear: the production, uploading, and viewing of genuinely critical and alternative ideas and viewpoints is not welcome.

Thankfully we at MiddleEastObserver.net have been anticipating this scenario for many years, and especially in the last 6 months. For now, these are the best ways to continue to follow and support our work:

– Support us financially (even with $1/month) on Patreon
– You won’t miss out on any content if you subscribe to our Website Mailing List
– We will now be uploading our video content on our Daily Motion channel
– Like our Facebook page 
– Follow us on Twitter

Best wishes,
Middle East Observer

Beyond Kafka: How Youtube & Facebook Keep Purging Alternative Media

Beyond Kafka: How Youtube & Facebook Keep Purging Alternative Media

January 09, 2019

Hassan Nasrallah is persona non grata on Social Networks, where Anti-Zionism is the ultimate thoughtcrime 

With a comment from Norman Finkelstein

The guillotine’s blade fell again, one year later. On December 2017 already, my 5-years-old Youtube channel Sayed Hasan, mainly translating speeches from Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, was completely removed by Youtube, along with its 10 000 subscribers, +6 millions views and +400 subtitled videos of anti-Zionist & anti-Imperialist content. I then denunced this censorship in detail in my article Kafka 2.0: How Youtube’s Political Censorship is Exercised. And just around New Year’s Eve 2019, the +6000 Subscribed Facebook Page Resistance News Unfiltered, along with all its similar content, got deleted without explanation. The only thing left online is a cache view of the page dating back from this summer.
Cache view of the Facebook Page Resistance News Unfiltered, August 2018
I had created this Page at the beginning of 2018, since no other place can compete with Youtube and its near-monopoly on video content, in order to reach a broader audience. But it was deleted without explanation by Facebook short of its first anniversary. I can’t even know the precise date of termination. Youtube did at least bother to send emails notifying of the removal of a video or of a whole channel, but Facebook has only internal notifications for posts removals. Here is how it happened. 

I got two warnings from Facebook, dated December 24th and December 25th, 2018:

When I logged in on December 28th and saw these messages, I immediately appealed the decisions through the automated procedure, as shown above, though the specific posts alledgedly violating the Communnity Standards weren’t even accessible, since they had been removed. It means that I didn’t –and still don’t– even know which posts got me these “strikes”. At least, Youtube was specific about the videos alledgedly violating their rules –three speeches of Hassan Nasrallah–, though they didn’t say more than that. I don’t know if the whole Page was finally removed because of a third “strike” –Facebook does not even state how much “strikes” you can get before termination– or because of something else, like constant flagging and reports by cyber-IDF soldiers and Hasbara trolls. But I am positive it has to do with my anti-Zionist content. It is a blatant attempt to take down important speech and silence already marginalized voices, astated by Vera Eidelman from the ACLU

Of course, one should always protest and complain using the due procedures. After all, Facebook has been known to restore such Pages after the public outcry following their removal without proper reason (TeleSurVenezuelAnalysis, etc.). I did protest, and I am still expecting an answer from them, without much hope, since earlier appeals as old as September 17th are still awaiting a response almost 4 months later, as shown below (screenshot dated January 4th, 2019).

Appeals are not suspensive. Anyway, without any mention of a motive, corpus delicti and mere notification of removal of my page, not even in Facebook’s internal notifications on my personnal account, we are clearly beyond kafkaesque.

This witch-hunt against the voice of the Resistance Axis online, especially Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah (I am the main translator of his speeches in English and French, voluntary and non-affiliated), is not new. Over and over again most often after Israeli-backed indictment campaigns, in 201220142016 and june 2018, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter closed down all accounts affiliated to the Lebanese and Palestinian Resistance, including Al-Manar TV Channel, banned for good. In 2014 and 2016, Facebook was hunting down Nasrallah’s very picture and temporarily blocking the accounts that featured it, even though they were individuals having no link whatsoever with the organization: not only Hezbollah’s missiles and fighters, but the very voice and picture of its Secretary General are considered as an existential threat for Israel, whose paid trolls keep reporting his videos as terrorist hate-speech to ban mercilesslyThe right to information, neutrality or equity is a chimera in the Internet Giants’ turf, where only alternative views, especially videos hostile to Zionism, are subject to censorship and banishment.

On January 8, 2019, Norman Finkelstein commented on the issue:

It is a scandal that the speeches of Hassan Nasrallah are banned on Youtube. Whatever one thinks of his politics, it cannot be doubted that Nasrallah is among the shrewdest and most serious political observers in the world today. Israeli leaders carefully scrutinize Nasrallah’s every word. Why are the rest of us denied this right? One cannot help but wonder whether Nasrallah’s speeches are censored because he doesn’t fit the stereotype of the degenerate, ignorant, blowhard Arab leader. It appears that Western social media aren’t yet ready for an Arab leader of dignified mind and person.

Thankfully, my first article got the attention of Ron Unz, who offered to safeguard my videos in his own website, and I published them back gradually in a new Dailymotion Channel from where they are automatically saved in The Unz Review’s internal storage system. Thus, even if they end up deleted by Dailymotion, they’ll still be accessible in one and same place without need to re-upload them again. I will keep posting my videos on Dailymotion –though it has its own, more subtle way of censorship: age-restricting videos, burying them in the search results… –, and I call on everyone to subscribe to my channel on the Unz Review (RSS feed) and on all those who can to donate to support this work. Whatever happens, the Electronic Intifada to which Hassan Nasrallah called will carry on.

Sayed Hasan

Donate as little as you can to support this work or become a Patron, and subscribe to get around censorship

Use the online form or send an email to Facebook to denounce the removal of the Page Resistance News Unfilteredinfo@facebook.comdisabled@facebook.comappeals@facebook.cominfo@support.facebook.com

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – SEPTEMBER 11, 2018: MSM CLAIMS ASSAD ORDERED CHEMICAL WEAPONS ATTACKS IN IDLIB

South Front

The Syrian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces have continued intense airstrikes on militant targets in the provinces of Idlib and Latakia. According to local sources, a major part of the SAF strikes were delivered on militant positions near Khan Shaykhun, Kafr Zita, al-Latamih and the nearby areas. Syrian Army artillery guns and rocket launchers have also engaged militant targets along the contact line.

The situation remains tense. However, government forces have kicked off no ground offensive yet despite claims by some pro-government media outlets that it’s already ongoing.

The US-led coalition used phosphorous bombs to deliver a strike on the settlement of the ISIS-held village of Hajin in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor on September 8, chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties Vladimir Savchenko said on September 10. According to the statement, the strike were delivered by two F-15 warplanes of the US Air Force.

In a separate statement, Pentagon spokesman Sean Robertson denied this adding that “none of the military units in the area are even equipped with white phosphorous munitions of any kind”.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported citing unnamed US officials that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had approved the use of chlorine gas in an offensive against the militant-held part of Idlib province and the nearby areas.

The newspaper also claimed once again citing anonymous sources that US President Donald Trump had threatened to order a massive attack on facilities of the Damascus government if Syrian forces carry out “massacre in Idlib”.

It further added that the US military is now considering military options in Syria, but President Trump has made no final decision so far.
This report as well as multiple previous allegations by the mainstream media and Western diplomats are a part of the ongoing propaganda campaign designed to justify attempts of the US-led bloc to defend the last major terrorist stronghold in Syria. It’s interesting but most of commentators and media accidentally forget to point out that the main opposition force in Idlib is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an internationally recognized terrorist group and the former official branch of al-Qaeda in Syria.

At the same time, YouTube banned a number of Syrian state-run and pro-government channels, including ones belonging to the Syrian Presidency, the Syrian Defense Ministry and the state-run news agency SANA. The reason provided was that these accounts allegedly violate YouTube’s Terms of Service.

This move can be considered as another attempt to suppress non-mainstream reporting on the ongoing conflict. Some Syrian experts even claimed that these were another sign of preparations for a staged chemical attack in Idlib and then a US-led military strike on Syrian government forces.

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YOUTUBE IS CENSORING SF’S NEW 1.5-HOUR LONG VIDEO “RUSSIAN MILITARY CAMPAIGN IN SYRIA 2015-2018”

South Front

YouTube is censoring SouthFront’s new 1.5-hour long video “Russian Military Campaign in Syria 2015-2018“.

This video is a detailed summary of military and political developments in Syria since the start of the Russian military operation until now. It was released by SouthFront on August 11.

Less than 2 hours after the release, this video was placed behind an age restriction because it allegedly includes “violent or graphic content that appears to be posted in a shocking, sensational, or disrespectful manner”. The age-restriction clearly impacts a possible reach of the video because it does not allow people without YouTube accounts to watch it.

YouTube Is Censoring SF's New 1.5-Hour Long Video "Russian Military Campaign in Syria 2015-2018"

Click to see the full-size image

SouthFront immidiately appealed this age restriction. Our video “Russian Military Campaign in Syria 2015-2018” includes no “graphic content” and was made solely for informational purposes. So, it does not violate any rules.

After the further review, YouTube found that SouthFront’s video “does not violate” Community Guidelines. However, the video remained age-restricted because “it may not be appropriate for a general audience”.

YouTube Is Censoring SF's New 1.5-Hour Long Video "Russian Military Campaign in Syria 2015-2018"

Click to see the full-size image

Summing up: The video violates no YouTube Community Guidelines, but despite this, a manual decision was made to age-restrict the video in order to limit its possible reach of the audience. This situation can be considered as another example of censorship imposed against alternative media and an independent point of view.

SouthFront has repeatedly faced various sophisticated attacks aimed at censoring it on YouTube [systematic ‘false flagging’ and other hostile actions] or damaging its website.

For example, about a year ago, SouthFront became a target of preplanned campaign to damage its work:

In mid September 2017, SouthFront’s YouTube channel received two community guidelines strikes and its work on this platform was temporairly frozen. Then, thanks to public support of our audience and partners, SouthFront was able to restore its channel and continue releasing videos on YouTube.

Separately, the projet faced a new wave of propaganda aimed at damaging it in the MSM. In October 2017, Military.comThe HillMcClatchyDC and The Daily Beast united their efforts arguing that SouthFront among few other websites targets “US military personnel and veterans with conspiracy theories, misinformation, and other forms of junk news about military affairs and national security issues.

The recent developments on YouTube may indicate that a similar campaign could be launched against SouthFront once again soon.

Update

SITUATION WITH YOUTUBE AND IMPORTANT PROJECT NEWS

It was too embarrassing for Israel

April 26, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

I just learned from you tube that it blocked an old youtube video of Israeli soldiers running away  once faced with Palestinian opposition (kids with stones). It must have been  too humiliating for the regional super power to witness how weak it is in reality.

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 10.10.13.png

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.

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