Bombshell: Professor Stuns MSNBC Panel On Syria

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TRUMP HITS SYRIA A SECOND TIME AND SIGNALS TO THE WORLD THAT THE U.S. EMPIRE IS COMING APART AT THE SEAMS

18.04.2018

Trump Hits Syria a Second Time and Signals to the World that the U.S. Empire is Coming Apart at the Seams

Written by Brian Kalman exclusively for SouthFront; Brian Kalman is a management professional in the marine transportation industry. He was an officer in the US Navy for eleven years.

A number of days have passed since naval and air assets of the United States, France and the UK struck a number of targets of the Syrian government within that nation’s sovereign borders. The attacks took place during the early morning hours of April 14th. I was getting ready to celebrate my 43rd birthday that day, and became aware of the attacks in an otherwise good mood on the evening of April 13th (local time) on the U.S. east coast. I, like so many people, whether ordinary citizens, independent media commentators, government officials (even a few in the U.S.), analysts, and former generals and ambassadors, simply could not understand the logic behind these attacks. It soon became apparent that the narrative surrounding the “surgical strikes”, not just the pretext for their being conducted in the first place, but the details of how they were carried out, began to become questionable. Under what rationale could the U.S. establishment explain that the alleged chemical attack was carried out by the Syrian government, when such a decision would be totally illogical in that it would be of absolutely no benefit to the Syrian government? Additionally,  why would the U.S. and its allies time such an attack to immediately precede the arrival of an OPCW team dispatched to determine if a chemical weapons attack actually took place or not? As more information was released by both the U.S. and Russian governments detailing the actual cruise missile strikes, it soon became apparent that the narrative presented by the U.S. government was not at all true. So, what was the motive and the purpose of such an attack, and what actually took place?

It is quite easy for anyone at this point, with over seven years of the Syrian conflict behind us, to realize that the Syrian government was not the perpetrator of a chemical attack, let alone an attack that would have nothing but negative ramifications and zero benefits. Many such attacks had been carried out in the past, and were found to be carried out by the opposition, not the government. There is a reasonable amount of evidence to suggest that some of these “attacks” were either wholly staged, or that opposition factions killed men, women and children and then positioned the bodies to fake video and photo “evidence” of such attacks. The notorious “White Helmets” have been implicated in some of these incidents. Almost every time, Western and Gulf states invested in the ongoing proxy invasion (it has never been a civil war) have seized on such deplorable and tragic events to call for a widening of the conflict. The comments made and investigations carried by UN commission member Carla Del Ponte and MIT professor Theodore Postol (professor emeritus specializing in WMD and NBC warfare) all but proved that the chemical weapons attacks that were the pretext to the aborted Obama administration intervention, and Trump’s first cruise missile attack against the Syrian Arab Airforce airfield at Shayrat last year, were actually perpetrated by the opposition, not the Syrian government. The narratives pushed to frame Syria’s president Assad as the perpetrator of these crimes have been proven to be utter fabrications. Are we truly to believe that this chemical attack, if it truly was a chemical attack at all, was once again perpetrated by a Syrian government that had already beaten the Islamic radicals in Douma on the battlefield, had liberated thousands of civilians kept as human shields, and had received the terrorists’ agreement to surrender the territory in exchange for free passage to a different, yet ever shrinking opposition held territory? The Syrian military has been winning the war for a long time now, and with every victory, the true nature of the “rebel” opposition becomes clearer. They are not a grass roots national opposition, but a barbaric menagerie of Islamic fundamentalist mercenaries working for the interests of their paymasters in Washington, Paris, London, Riyadh and Doha. I almost forgot the air support and medical services provided courtesy of Tel Aviv.

How long can the western mainstream media keep pushing the same ridiculous narrative? I guess they can push it as long as gullible or apathetic populations keep buying what they are selling, or remain unconcerned by the immoral, illegal and treasonous criminality of their governments. As a U.S. citizen who values the universal, inalienable rights of all of the worlds’ people, I have been utterly appalled by the conduct of my government. Or more accurately described, the shadow government, or deep state. Call it what you will. I am very aware that I am not alone, but have increasingly found, like so many other aspects of the social and political fabric of this country, I am falling on one of two increasingly polarized sides. Americans either increasingly understand and are disturbed by the fact that their government, the mainstream media and Hollywood (The Ministry of Propaganda) are lying to them about pretty much everything, or blindly accept what they are being told, either out of stupidity, apathy, an inability to confront the negative ramifications of reality, blind allegiance to a corrupted and decadent version of what the country once was, or a combination of some or all of the above. Is it really so much easier to ignore the ugly truth and bury your head in the sand? As a Syrian soldier fighting on the front lines to salvage a country that is still one of the most secular and tolerant nations in the Middle East, this is hardly an option. As an American with no greater worries than who won the baseball game the other night, or if their president had sex with a porn star, I guess they have the luxury of such a misguided and ridiculous level of ignorance and indifference. I sincerely mean no insult to the many hard working Americans who are truly disturbed by the actions of “their” government and are concerned about the horrible war in Syria, all the while are struggling to make ends meet and raise good and moral children in an increasingly immoral American society.

With a full understanding of past events in the Syrian conflict, how does one explain what happened last week? What is the real reason that the U.S. and its loyal European vassals fired cruise missiles into Syria and what was actually achieved in material terms? We have all heard the narrative pushed by the U.S. government and their MSM propagandists, that 105 cruise missiles (very new and smart!) were launched by naval and air assets, mainly targeting three Syrian government locations engaged in the development and/or storage of chemical warfare agents. Trump asserts that all the missiles hit their targets, not one was intercepted nor malfunctioned, resulting in a flawless, precision strike. U.S. media parroted the Pentagon’s talking point that Syrian air defenses could only “blindly” fire surface to air missiles in response. I am really at a loss as to how you can actually blind-fire a radar guided surface-to-air missile at an aerial target, or under what circumstances this would even be feasible, but what do I know, I don’t work for CNN.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) has presented a very different analysis of the strike, stating that 71 out of the 103 missiles fired were in fact intercepted. According to the Russian MOD, Syrian air defense forces engaged 110 enemy cruise missiles, firing 112 surface-to-air missiles to intercept. So, who is telling the truth, or more accurately, a more truthful version of what actually happened? At this point it is hard to say what actually took place; however, there is enough circumstantial evidence to state with confidence that the narrative presented by the U.S. government is not even remotely probable. After the Russian and Syrian militaries reported that almost 70% of incoming missiles were interdicted, and videos illustrating the probable aerial intercepts over Syrian territory (although this is still only circumstantial evidence) emerged, the U.S. DOD released a few grainy, black and white “before and after” satellite images of sites supposedly targeted and destroyed in the strikes. With all of the high tech surveillance capabilities at its disposal, the U.S. could only rebut with this scant, amateurish proof? General Schwarzkopf’s press conferences during operation Desert Storm decades ago made this presentation appear laughable in comparison. Even more damning was the footage shot of the aftermath of the attack on the supposed chemical weapons research facility in Damascus, the Barzah Research and Development Center. Are we truly to believe that 76 Tomahawk cruise missiles successfully struck this one small complex of buildings? What is the size of this complex, between 5 and 10 acres? Some structures, although burned out and heavily damaged, were left standing after being struck by over 76,000 lbs. of high explosives? Each Tomahawk (most likely the Block III TLAM-C in this scenario) is equipped with a 1,000 lb. blast/fragmentary unitary warhead. Why waste 76 Tomahawks on a single target? To send a message, or because you calculate that a high proportion of the missiles will likely be intercepted by Syrian or Russian air defenses? Are we truly to believe that 76 Tomahawk cruise missiles successfully struck the Barzah complex?

Trump Hits Syria a Second Time and Signals to the World that the U.S. Empire is Coming Apart at the Seams

Barzah Research and Development Center. The automobiles in the satellite imagery give a good idea of scale. Was this complex hit by 76 Tomahawk LACMs loaded with 76,000 lbs. of high explosives? Were chemical weapons, or precursor agents present at the site?

Another obvious question not asked by the sycophantic mainstream media, is what would happen if a chemical weapons facility located in a heavily populated suburb of Damascus, supposedly stockpiling Sarin gas, happened to be blown sky high? Wouldn’t at least some portion of Sarin gas, or other deadly chemical substance particulates be released into the surrounding environment? What better way to avenge the immoral murder of innocent children than to bomb a chemical weapons plant in a heavily populated city, right? Sarin gas is a highly toxic nerve agent, with a lethal exposure of only 35mg. per cubic meter per minute for two minutes, resulting in death for a grown adult. And yet, no civilian casualties were reported. Does this strike anyone as being totally improbable, or even a little bit implausible? That’s because it is. This totally implausible narrative only reinforces the assertion (verified by the OPCW no less) that Syria surrendered all of its chemical weapons in 2013. As the Syrian government professes, the Barzah Research and Development Center obviously is not engaged in chemical weapons research and development. They may be involved in researching God knows what, but not deadly nerve agents as the U.S. government insists.

To be honest, I have no idea what really happened in the early morning hours of April 14th in Syria. Two very different versions of events have been presented as the truth. All I can do as a logical and rational human being is look at what is known, or at least probable in light of the circumstantial evidence available. There is no photographic or video proof to suggest that 105 Tomahawk cruise missiles all hit their intended targets successfully. There is circumstantial evidence to support the accretion that they did not. There is very clear evidence to support the assertion that the Barzah Research and Development Center was not engaged in developing or storing chemical weapons, because if this was in fact the case, there would have at least been some civilian casualties as the result of this facility being destroyed. I am no chemical weapons expert, but it is simply counterintuitive to think otherwise. The release of even a minute amount of sarin gas would prove deadly to some of the thousands of civilians living adjacent to the facility.

So what was accomplished as a result of the grand 105 missile strong attack? Was the U.S. portrayed as the omnipresent, all-powerful arbiter of law and order in the world, or revealed to be a playground bully with not enough might to back up their bluster? If the U.S. attack did go off without a hitch and all missiles hit their intended targets, what was the real result of this costly exercise (approximately $200 million in ordinance, not to mention the cost of using the aircraft, submarines, and warships to deliver said ordinance)? Did Trump exhibit strength, or ineptitude? Did the “strongest military in the history of the world” just reveal a chink in its armor? Russia and Syria may assert that 70% of enemy cruise missiles were successfully intercepted, but even if the real number was only 50% or even 30%, it would reveal that the often touted U.S. military superiority is a total falsehood. The modern and capable Russian air defense assets in the region never fired a shot. At least a portion of U.S. advanced cruise missiles were defeated by decades old Soviet technology. If true, this reality should shake U.S. military planners to the core.

Trump Hits Syria a Second Time and Signals to the World that the U.S. Empire is Coming Apart at the Seams

Do these guys really believe the narrative they are peddling? They look like two kids that got caught doing something bad and had to get their stories straight.

As my friend The Saker often asserts, the U.S. establishment (including the Department of Defense) simply has no real strategy in the Middle East. I would argue that it has no overall geopolitical strategy at all. We are witnessing the death throes of a dying empire which has become the biggest believer in its own narrative, a narrative based on delusion and hubris. This is a very dangerous reality, and hopefully one that will come to a conclusion that costs a minimal of lives. Hundreds of thousands of lives have already been ended in an immoral, criminal attempt to destroy yet another sovereign nation in the Middle East. A nation that dared to walk its own path in the world. The destiny of Syria will be determined, for good or ill, by the Syrian people and that is how it should be. I would also assert that there may very well be a war within the power structure of the U.S. state itself, and the apparent schizophrenic foreign policy and polarized domestic intragovernmental conflict we are all bearing witness to are clear signs of this. Not all is what it seems, or at least not what the MSM propagandists would like us all to believe. One day in the near future, I may end up looking back on my 43rd birthday and remembering the day when the first chink in the empire’s armor was revealed, the tapestry of lies started to unravel, and the world began to see that the emperor truly has no clothes.

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How the truth is murdered by the media

11.04.2018

This was sent to me by a friend today:

The Saker

 

Is this the BBC or an Israeli Hasbara Unit?

March 31, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

There’s not a lot left of the BBC’s ‘impartiality.’ In fact, this type of discussion is what one would expect from USSR state TV in the 1970s.

But we shouldn’t be surprised.

In 1948, when he was working at the BBC, George Orwell identified the British inclination toward authoritarianism. And in his masterpiece 1984,  Orwell had  Immanuel Goldstein lead the controlled opposition. This  was written  almost seven decades before Jewish Voice for Labour and Momentum were formed to define the boundaries of ‘freedom of speech on Israel’ and dissent in general…

If they want to burn it , you want to read it..

cover bit small.jpg

Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto

Amazon.co.uk  ,  Amazon.com  and   here  (gilad.co.uk)

Moscow Shuts British Council, Expels 23 Diplomats in Response to UK Move

Local Editor

The Russian Foreign Ministry said 23 UK diplomats must leave Russia in response to Britain’s “provocative actions and groundless accusations” over ex-double agent Sergei Skripal’s poisoning.

Russia

The British Council will also be shut.

In further details, Britain’s ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Saturday morning, where he was informed of Moscow’s response to London’s claims that Russia is behind the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former double agent, and his daughter, Yulia, on March 4 in Salisbury, UK.

On Friday, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally ordered the suspected nerve agent attack – a claim Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called “shocking and unforgivable.”

“Sooner or later the British side would have to present some kind of comprehensive evidence [of Russia’s involvement], at least, to their partners [France, the US, Germany], who declared solidarity with London in this situation,” Peskov added.

Moscow has repeatedly offered its full cooperation in investigating the incident, which London claims involved a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok. Both nations are members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW], which means that London is obliged to include Moscow in the investigation.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

Moscow Hits back at London, Expels 23 UK Diplomats

March 17, 2018

Russia UK flags

Moscow has found its way to respond to the recent UK move to expel Russian diplomats within the poisoning case of a former Russian agent.

The Russian Foreign Ministry declared on Saturday 23 employees of the UK Embassy in Moscow “personae non gratae” in response to the similar move made by London, the ministry said in a statement.

“A total of 23 diplomatic employees of the UK Embassy in Moscow are declared personae non gratae and must leave [Russia] within a week,” the statement read.

The ministry also revoked its agreement on opening and operation of the UK Consulate General in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, according to the statement.

A source in the ministry told Sputnik that the UK side would get the necessary time for closing the facility.

In addition, according to the statement, the activity of the British Council in Russia had been suspended over the lack of proper regulation, regarding its status.

“Since the legal status of the British Council in Russia has not been determined its operation is ceased,” the statement read.

The Foreign Ministry added that Moscow retained right to respond if the United Kingdom continued to take unfriendly steps against Russia.

The decision comes after earlier in the day the Russian Foreign Ministry summoned UK Ambassador to Russia Laurie Bristow.

Relations between Russia and the UK deteriorated in two recent weeks after former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found unconscious in a shopping center in Salisbury.

Following the incident, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the incident since the two were poisoned with a Novichok class military-grade nerve agent that was developed in the Soviet Union.

On Wednesday, May went on to announce a package of anti-Russian measures, including the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the country, and the suspension of bilateral contacts between London and Moscow.

SourceSputnik

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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.)

NYT Trumpwashes 70 Years of US Crimes

Source

Trumpwashing—defined as whitewashing, obscuring or rewriting the broader US record by presenting Donald Trump as an aberration (FAIR.org, 6/3/16)—was on full display Thursday in a nominally straight news report from the New York Times’ Mark Landler (12/28/17) on how Trump has reshaped US foreign policy. Buried in the otherwise banal analysis was this gem of US imperial agitprop:

Above all, Mr. Trump has transformed the world’s view of the United States from a reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order into something more inward-looking and unpredictable. That is a seminal change from the role the country has played for 70 years, under presidents from both parties, and it has lasting implications for how other countries chart their futures.

There’s lots of ideology to unpack here, but let’s start with the empirically false assertion that the “world” viewed the United States as a “reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order.” Poll (Guardian, 6/15/06) after poll (Pew, 3/14/07) after poll (PRI, 1/3/14) throughout the years has shown that much of the world views the United States as threat to peace, often taking the top spot as the single greatest threat. What evidence Landler has for the world viewing the US as a sort of good-natured global babysitter is unclear, as he cites nothing to support this hugely important claim (since if Trump’s cynical disregard for “human rights” is nothing new, then there’s no real story here). It’s just thrown out with the assumption the Times readership is sufficiently nationalistic and/or amnesiac to either not notice or not care. It’s designed to flatter, not to elucidate.

"Shock and Awe" in Iraq.

The US invasion of Iraq in defiance of international rules.

The second dubious assertion is the idea that the US is “viewed” as being (or, by implication, objectively is) concerned with “liberal, rules-based international order.” Perhaps Landler missed the part where the US runs offshore penal colonies for untried political prisoners, and a decade-long drone war that’s killed thousands—both entirely outside the scope of international law. Or the time the US invaded and destroyed Iraq without any international authorization, killing hundreds of thousands. Or perhaps he missed the part where the United States refuses to sign “liberal, rules-based international order” treaties such as the International Criminal Court or the ban on bombs and or a prohibition on nuclear weapons. Or the part where the US not only doesn’t recognize the International Criminal Court, but has a law on its books (dubbed “the Hague Invasion Act,” passed in 2002) that if an American is ever held by the ICC for committing war crimes, the US is obligated to literally invade the Hague and free them.

And this is just in the past 15 years. Landler, even more laughably, starts the clock in 1947, which would include dozens of non-“liberal,” non-“rules-based” coups, invasions, bombing campaigns, assassinations, extrajudicial murders and so forth. The number of actions carried out by the US not sanctioned by even the thinnest pretext of “international order” is too long to list.

What exactly is this “liberal, rules-based international order,” and when did “the world” view the United States as its most reliable anchor? Landler doesn’t say, he simply asserts this highly contestable and ideological claim, and moves on to pearl-clutch about Trump ruining the US’s hard-won moral authority. He has some 100 percent uncut pro-US ideology to push under the guise of criticizing Trump, and no amount of basic historical facts will get in his way.


h/t @ElwinWay

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