Rights and Accountability 3 March 2021
The Israeli government is directing one of its online armies to attack a British academic who supporters of Israel want to see fired.
David Miller has been facing calls from the Israel lobby for the University of Bristol to sack him, because of his research into that lobby and his opposition to Zionism, Israel’s racist state ideology.
But now we know the Israeli government itself is also involved in this smear campaign.
On Monday Act.IL – a troll army directed and funded by an Israeli ministry – issued an online “mission” calling on users of its app to attack an opinion piece published by Al Jazeera which defends Miller.
The troll army’s operators smeared Miller as guilty of “blatant Jew-hatred” and called on their users to attack the Al Jazeera piece on Twitter.
The mission was exposed by Michael Bueckert, a Canadian academic who documents the troll army’s activities using his @AntiBDSApp Twitter account.
The mission asks users to “like” a specific tweet attacking the article, but also seems to encourage users to respond themselves.
The article was written by Malia Bouattia, a former president of the UK’s National Union of Students.
She argues that Miller is being attacked as a result of his teaching on the Zionist movement’s involvement in the Islamophobia network.Bouattia told The Electronic Intifada that the Act.IL mission was “a striking demonstration that they feel unable to win the political argument out in the open” and instead Miller’s detractors depend on smears and intimidation.
She argues in the piece that everyone opposed to the smear campaign against Miller should speak out loudly.
“If those in British academia who disagree with the campaign being waged against Miller choose to remain silent out of fear, the same thing will happen in their universities,” Bouattia writes in her article.
“It is only through collective resistance, and solidarity with those who are being targeted, that we can protect ourselves, free speech and academic freedom,” she concludes.
The troll army’s direction for users to attack an Al Jazeera tweet advertising the article seems to have been moderately successful.
Although a hostile reply-post to the tweet which users were directed to support has only 16 “likes” as of this writing, a large majority of the replies to the Al Jazeera tweet are hostile – attacking and smearing Miller, Bouattia or both.
Act.IL has received unknown levels of funding from Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs – Israel’s semi-covert agency run by former intelligence agents (including Mossad agents) dedicated to fighting Israel’s global war against the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, or BDS.
An Act.IL document obtained by The Electronic Intifada in 2019 revealed that the organization had a budget of $1.1 million the previous year.
While the app’s users include volunteers for Israel, The Electronic Intifada’s 2019 investigation found evidence that a majority of its most active users are paid employees of the Israeli government. And many of its “volunteers” are actually students carrying out its missions in exchange for scholarships.
It also has “media rooms” in several different countries which its operatives and volunteers work out of.
“A new kind of war”
A second investigation by The Electronic Intifada found that Act.IL’s chief executive is a veteran of Israeli military intelligence.
Yarden Ben Yosef argues for “inserting” Israel into online discussions and waging “a new kind of war” to counter how “the Palestinian narrative [has] prevailed in world media over the Israeli one.”
Malia Bouattia told The Electronic Intifada that the Act.IL mission against her was “an important reminder of the organized nature of the campaign” against the Palestine solidarity movement.
The establishment of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs “was a direct response to the success and popularity of the BDS movement,” she said.
But Bouattia said that the “mission” was also a sign of potential vulnerability to collective action.
“Pro-Israeli groups and organizations don’t underestimate any solidarity initiative. Our side would do well to remember it and do the same.”
Bouattia said it was “a striking demonstration that they feel unable to win the political argument out in the open – in unions, universities, communities – and rely instead on intimidation and smears.”
She herself was relentlessly targeted and smeared by the Israel lobby during her time leading the NUS.
In 2018, Act.IL also issued at least one known mission against Jeremy Corbyn – a key indicator out of many that the state of Israel was leading a major campaign against the former Labour leader.
Permalink Jack T replied on
Israel and their Lobby abroad are frantic in their attempts to smear anyone who objects to their brutal treatment of Palestinians and occupation of Palestinian land. No tactic is too dirty for them to employ in their attempts to justify the Zionist project. Avigail Abarbanel the Jewish psychologist was correct when she said Zionism is a mental illness. It is the dillusional belief that you have rights which do not exist
Permalink Frank Dallas replied on
TURNING VOLTAIRE ON HIS HEAD. Voltaire, one of the leading minds of that hobgoblin of Judaic theocratic thinking, the Enlightenment, whose belief that arguments should rest on evidence somewhat scuppers the Herzl followers' claim that nearly 4,000 years ago a god no one has any evidence of, gave Palestine to an Abraham no one has any evidence of, remarked: I may disagree with your argument but I will fight to the death for your right to make it (my translation). The Israeli Statists say the contrary: Your argument may be valid but we will use every slur, every smear, every underhand method, every malicious possibility, every nastiness, every morally bereft stratagem to prevent it being heard. They are so fixated on what happened 4,000 year ago, they are determined to send us back there, to a time when superstition was more powerful than knowledge, when science didn't exist, when wayward ideas with no relation to evidence could seize the mind. They are cissies. They are cowards. They are snivelling, pathetic snitches who can't even hear an argument different from their own. They are the kind of people who poisoned Socrates, persecuted Galileo, railed against Darwin, dismissed Einstein as "Jewish science" and yes, shut down all debate in Nazi Germany.
Permalink Ricardo Hermanny replied on
Mr.Frank Dallas reply couldn't be more clear and truthful. It should be a permanent reminder to the US Congress and UK Parliament members and school's teachers all over the Western World.
Thanks for this excellent
Permalink Ben Alofs replied on
Thanks for this excellent post, Frank Dallas. As a medical doctor I try to practice evidence based medicine. This is what we do in the modern day world, evidence based science. Put forward a hypothesis and others are free to disprove it, based on arguments. If the hypothesis cannot be falsified the hypothesis stands and becomes science. This is how science moves forward. I have good arguments to prove that Israel is an apartheid state and that political Zionism is a racist colonial settler ideology. Most of those who rail against me are using smears and insults. There are very few supporters of Israel and Zionism left, who are trying to submit a proper argument.
Permalink Dean Havens replied on
I copied the below from a website promoting act.il called "IsraelandStuff"/want-to-defend-israel-heres-a-lesson-in-hasbara (since taken down). But the complete text from which I edited the below quotations can be found here: https://www.ynetnews.com/artic...
“A new app ‘arms’ thousands of motivated [Jewish] civilians worldwide, defending Israel’s image online” … “We had about 1,000 volunteers, most of them students from the IDC, who created pro-Israel PR content in 35 different languages, reaching some 40 million web users.” …we started working from the operations room on a regular basis. We had a database of student volunteers from dozens of countries, and it became more and more organized. We started setting up departments: One department created pro-Israeli marketing content, another department found and marked online articles that required our attention, and a third department dealt with finding and reporting pages that incite against Israel.” … Within only two weeks, it was downloaded by over 6,000 people in 27 countries around the world … “In the months before the app’s launch, we ran it a pilot among a group of some 800 students, most of them Americans,” … During the pilot period, we were able to remove 2-5 inciting pages or videos every week. We’re working with the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] and the Shin Bet [Israeli FBI], who are giving us information on such inciting content, and even they couldn’t keep us with how fast we were getting things removed.” … “Companies, such as Facebook, remove content following reports from the community,” Ben-Yosef explains. “If there is only one person reporting it, he usually gets told by Facebook the content doesn’t meet the criteria for removal. If 300 report it—the content is removed immediately. As soon as content inciting against Israel is posted online, we send a message through the app and all of its subscribers immediately report it.” …
Add new comment