Lobby Watch 16 January 2016
An Israeli legal group with intimate ties to the state’s intelligence agencies has admitted to faking an ostensibly pro-Palestinian Facebook page and using it to post anti-Semitic statements including “Death to all the Jews.”
The Israeli group has also filed a lawsuit against Facebook, for allegedly permitting Palestinian “incitement.”
Shurat HaDin claims to be a “civil rights organization.” Various media reports have described it as an “Israeli non-governmental organization,” an “advocacy group,” or even a neutral-sounding “law center” – the group’s self-description also adopted by The Guardian and PBS.
But US embassy cables leaked by Chelsea Manning and published by WikiLeaks tell a very different story.
Shurat HaDin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner privately told a US embassy official that her group “took direction” on which court cases to pursue. She claimed that she “receives evidence” from Israel’s international espionage and assassination agency Mossad and from Israel’s National Security Council.
In a video published to YouTube last week, Shurat HaDin claimed responsibility for the creation of a Facebook page titled “Stop Israelis” on 29 December.
At some point soon after, the page posted a cartoon about the Israeli threat to al-Aqsa mosque, along with the statement: “Revenge against the zionist enemy that threatens Al Aqsa! Death to all the jews! [sic]”
Shurat HaDin says the faking of the page was done as a “Facebook experiment,” supposedly to demonstrate that the social media giant is biased against Israelis.
Shurat HaDin claims it created a second racist page, but called “Stop Palestinians,” and then reported both pages to Facebook at the same time, but that only the latter was immediately removed.
In fact, the fake Shurat HaDin page containing the anti-Semitic statement was also deleted within days of when Shurat HaDin claims it was reported to Facebook.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Gilad Ravid of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev criticized Shurat HaDin’s actions, saying he was “not convinced that the conclusions drawn from this experiment are the correct ones.”
Ravid also said Shurat HaDin’s anti-Semitic postings on Facebook would have caused “significant discomfort” to those who read them before the page was closed down.
Media later reporting on the “experiment,” including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, were sent a statement from the social media giant: “Facebook does not tolerate hate speech, including against people on the basis of their nationality. We review all reports and take down such content. Both these pages have now been removed from Facebook.”
Facebook did not reply to a request for further comment.
Ironically, use of Facebook and other social media by Israelis for violent incitement against Palestinians and Muslims is pervasive. The Electronic Intifada has documented this phenomenon over several years.
A perusal through our “Israelis on Facebook” tag lists too many disturbing examples to list in full here.
Some of the more notable cases include Mor Ostrovski, the Israeli soldier who posted a photo of a Palestinian child in the crosshairs of his rifle to his Instagram account; an outbreak of violent racist fantasies (“Castrate them!” “Burn them!” “Bullet in the head!”) against a group of young Palestinian children who had joined a peaceful protest camp in 2013; and a July 2015 viral campaign in which Israelis posted photos of their children holding signs demanding the execution of Palestinian “terrorists.”
Even more notable is the fact that this racist incitement against Palestinians stems from the very top of the Israeli establishment.
Current justice minister Ayelet Shaked in 2014 approvingly posted a genocidal article to her Facebook page which declared that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and justified its destruction, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”
One month later Moshe Feiglin, then deputy speaker of Israel’s parliament, used his Facebook page to publish his own detailed plan for the total destruction of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
The plan called for the “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters,” and called for the civilian population to be “concentrated” in special camps on the border with Egypt.
All of these instances of Israelis using Facebook for violent and genocidal incitement against Palestinians took place long before the current Palestinian uprising began in October – the subject of a recently-launched Shurat HaDin lawsuit against Facebook.
Mossad vs. Facebook
The reason for the Mossad-linked group to want to generate such negative publicity for Facebook is no mystery.
Lakin v. Facebook was filed in a New York state court at the end of October on behalf of some 20,000 Israelis against the social media giant.
It is an attempt to get Facebook to crack down on Palestinians who Shurat HaDin claims use it to praise or organize armed resistance against Israeli soldiers and civilians.
The suit calls for the court to issue “an injunction requiring the defendant to stop allowing Palestinian terrorists to incite violent attacks against Israeli citizens.”
But according to Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who blogs at The Washington Post, the case “is going nowhere.”
Volokh argues that Shurat HaDin’s suit relies on “Israeli laws that restrict speech” in a way which would be “unconstitutionally overbroad” under the First Amendment which prohibits federal, state and local government in the US from restricting free speech.
“American courts don’t enforce foreign speech restrictions that would be inconsistent with the First Amendment,” Volokh observes.
He says that “many of the examples that the complaint offers thus wouldn’t even qualify as ‘incitement’ under US law.”
Volokh says that Facebook “has no obligation under US law to censor its content” as Shurat HaDin and the Israeli government clearly want it to do.
“Covert” online units
This is not the first time that Israel, or groups engaging in government-backed propaganda, have engaged in such deceptive online tactics.
In 2013, it was reported that the Israeli prime minister’s office was organizing students in “covert” and “semi-military” style units to tweet and post pro-Israel messages on social media without revealing they are doing it as part of a government propaganda campaign.
During the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 551 children, one Israeli student union set up a “Hasbara war room” – using the Hebrew word for propaganda. “We want people abroad who don’t know our reality to understand exactly what is going on here,” one of the organizers explained. The “war room” itself drew on earlier similar efforts.
Also in summer 2014, The Electronic Intifada revealed how pro-Israel website Israel21c planned to use interns to infiltrate online communities with its puff-piece stories about the supposed wonders of Israeli technology.
“You wouldn’t directly reference that you’re interning for Israel21c,” one of the men behind the project admitted to our undercover reporter, “that would sort of defeat the point of posting it.”
And only last month the Center for Public Diplomacy and Israeli Hasbara announced it would plant secret operatives within Israeli human rights groups in order to discredit and undermine their work in support of Palestinian human rights.
There is also a pre-Internet age precedent for the “significant discomfort” that Shurat HaDin’s current Facebook deceptions would have caused Jews and others reading the “Stop Israelis” page.
In the 1980s, undercover Anti-Defamation League agent Roy Bullock (who worked for both Israel and the South African apartheid regime) infiltrated Palestine solidarity and Arab civil rights groups in the US.
One of Bullock’s tactics was to try and make it look as if the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) had neo-Nazi links.
He did this by trying to manufacture those links himself.
On one occasion, Bullock attended a conference of the Holocaust-denying “Institute for Historical Review” to distribute ADC literature and recruit members.
We know that Israel and its allied groups around the world are still involved in keeping close tabs on Palestine solidarity activists.
Incidents like Shurat HaDin’s fabrication of an anti-Semitic “pro-Palestinian” Facebook page show some of the lengths to which Israel’s propagandists will still go.
- Shurat HaDin
- Israelis on Facebook
- Chelsea Manning
- Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
- Gilad Ravid
- Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
- Eugene Volokh
- Roy Bullock
Permalink tom hall replied on
As explored in a number of posts here at the Electronic Intifada, Zionist propaganda increasingly makes use of anti-Semitic stereotypes. Mossad's planting of anti-Jewish diatribes on Facebook is meant to discredit the Palestinian cause. Other, even more disturbing instances involve the direct adoption of a neo-Nazi viewpoint towards Jews who oppose Zionism. The language of vituperation and the caricatures employed in these attacks do not differ substantially from the style employed by the gutter press of the Third Reich. Zionism as a political movement has never been comfortable with the Jewish religion, "assimilationist" attitudes in the diaspora, or the reluctance of many Jews to adopt a racialist outlook.
For those who haven't yet seen it, here's a link to a notorious piece of animated hasbara, produced by the Samaria Settler Council. The racist depiction of "the Jew" is in full and noxious flower, as is the Nazis' other favorite trope, the corrupt capitalist who works in tandem with the Jew to warp national consciousness.
Permalink Guy replied on
Why am not surprised.
anti-Semitic Facebook post.
Permalink gabi replied on
Yet another "false flag" incident.
YOur tax dollars at work!
Permalink Axe Man replied on
This is how foreign aid to Israel is used, doesn't it make you proud to be 'Murican
Thank you EI and Asa Winstanley for exposing this
Permalink Rabbi David Mivasair replied on
Thank you EI and Asa Winstanley for exposing this so convincingly.
Example of anti-Semitic/anti-Israel material having been faked.
Permalink JLewisDickerson replied on
FOR PAST INSTANCES OF ANTI-SEMITIC AND/OR ANTI-ISRAEL POSTS ON THE INTERNET HAVING BEEN FAKED BY PRO-ISRAEL TYPES, SEE:
“David Brotsky’s Romance With Guns, Violence and Pro-Israel Hate”| by Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | December 4, 2012
[EXCERPTS] A year ago or so I exposed the identity [ http://goo.gl/iwnaj7 ] of the founder of the Jewish Internet Defense Force. David Brotsky, aged 37, lives in Dallas . . .
. . . One of Brotsky’s claims to fame (or infamy) is his “mastery” of the art of exploitation and manipulation of social media. He of course maintains JIDF Facebook and Twitter accounts, but he also appears to have created multiple sockpuppet accounts designed to support and echo his own views. Conversely, he creates fake accounts of supposed Arab or Muslim users and posts damaging anti-Semitic or anti-Israel material:
…We will be launching our largest operation on 4chan and other popular image boards, our objective is to create an image of Palestinians and Lebanese being virulently anti-American and anti-Western.
• Create threads against Israel and fill them with posts from violent Jihadist Palestinians, claim to want to immigrate into the West to do Jihad, later on in the threads post links to propaganda films like Pallywood.
• Exploit massive Lebanese immigration into Australia as a reason why the Australian people should support Israel.
• Post propaganda threads linking to Palestinian and Lebanese suicide bombers and other Muslim extremism, in these threads also reply as a Jew who has been affected by Jihadist violence, explain to the readers that Muslims are a threat to the West.
• Start threads claiming to be Lebanese-Americans or Palestinian-Englanders, portray yourselves as extremely anti-Israel, later on in these threads claim to be a Jew disgusted by the behavior of the Lebanese/Palestinian man. . .
SOURCE - http://www.richardsilverstein....
Reminds me of the harvard
Permalink Peace4All replied on
Reminds me of the harvard graduate guy on commondreams. Read this story for yourself
Permalink Greg Magarshak replied on
There are legitimate things to be talking about when people are coming from a Zionist or Anti-Zionist angle. But misleading reporting hurts the actual people who are affected on both sides. Because it gives fuel to the other side to point out how untrustworthy your headlines and articles are, and then casts doubt on others you've written.
This article seems to suggest that the Mossad faked violent antisemitism, as if without it, such pages wouldn't exist. That is not at all what happened. Shurat HaDin is a civil rights organization, but is certainly biased as is the Electronic Intifada btw. They carried out an experiment to prove that Facebook takes down only the anti-Israel speech and not anti-Palestinian speech, and the pages were identically managed, posting increasingly provocative statements until one was taken down: the "Stop Palestinians" one. You then report:
"In fact, the fake Shurat HaDin page containing the anti-Semitic statement was also deleted within days of when Shurat HaDin claims it was reported to Facebook."
But the whole point is, this only happened after the media firestorm which got Facebook's attention. Facebook actually apologized and said it made a mistake.
None of this is mentioned in your article. In short, the headline, and the selective facts in the content, make it a biased article. How does this help improve Palestinian rights? Doesn't it just give more chances to show how Electronic Intifada withholds facts to present a biased narrative? But perhaps I am wrong, and that is what's needed... maybe both sides distort stories in their favor, and so you need to do it too.
But as someone who is not Anti-Zionist but Pro Palestinian and Pro Human rights, I am disappointed.
Intrigued by your post, I
Permalink tom hall replied on
Intrigued by your post, I linked to your blog. Your statement here-
"But as someone who is not Anti-Zionist but Pro Palestinian and Pro Human rights, I am disappointed."
seems to me contradicted by your entry for September 11, 2014, entitled "What Palestinians can do that's actually productive". With your permission, I offer that link here-
In that contribution, you placed all responsibility for the entire tragedy of the Palestinian people exclusively on themselves. You even suggested that the apartheid system of Jews only settlements in the West Bank would not be necessary if only Palestinians would accept their illegal, land-grabbing presence graciously. The entire essay proceeded along these lines, and Israel, its conquering army, colonial policies and periodic massacres of large numbers of defenseless civilians, were scarcely mentioned as factors impinging on Palestinian freedom of action. According to you, the problem comes down to one recurring motif- the Palestinians just keep making bad choices.
Normally, people who post here say what they really think. Not many commenters strike a pose of neutrality in this struggle, or declare their pro-Palestinian sympathies in order better to defend Israel. Interested readers may wish to draw their own conclusions in this instance. Nevertheless, it was a pleasure visiting your site. I found it to be quite professionally produced, while retaining the personal character of its creator.
Response to Tom Hall
Permalink Greg Magarshak replied on
Well thank you, I'm glad you find my website professionally produced. Unless you're being facetious.
Yes, I posted what I think here, under my own name. I've been advocating for the end of "the tragedy of the Palestinian people" for a long time. I am not sure how my blog post which you linked to contradicts what I've said. I am pro-Palestinian, not anti-Zionist and the whole point of that post was to show what positive steps Palestinians can take, today, without waiting for the two state solution. So naturally it would be about that. I do not place "all the responsibility" for the Palestinians on the people. Not at all. On the other hand I think their leaders have sucked and I think regular Palestinian people have paid the price.
In a lot of this I agree with Ali Abunimah who runs this site. Both he and I think the two state solution is the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Yes I blame Palestinian leaders for their bungling. Look at what happened to Palestinians in Kuwait because of the PLO's alliance with Saddam, look at what they did during Black September, look at what they did getting involved in Lebanese civil war against the Phalangists, etc.
I believe that the way forward for Palestinians is through access to real economies like they used to have before 1988. Before Jordan cut off the West Bank and before the intifadas. Economic prosperity will improve people's lives in West Bank which is sorely needed. Knife attacks will not solve anything. There is a lot Palestinians can do without waiting for the political process, and I outline many of those solutions. Sadly I do not share the optimism about a one-state solution that Ali Abunimah and my friend Yehuda HaKohen have. But what I really believe is, that Anti-Zionism hurts both Palestinians and Israelis, and further perpetuates the suffering of refugees.
Everyone should get equal rights where they were born, today. But Palestinians never do.
and of Israel?
Permalink tom hall replied on
You have offered no substantive criticism of Israel, despite its long history of mass murder, overt racism, ethnic cleansing and systematic oppression of Palestinians. All your suggestions for self-correction are directed towards Israel's victims. I continue to regard such a position, and the accompanying rhetorical tactics, to be disingenuous, to say the least.
I'm with Tom Hall';s response
Permalink gabi replied on
I'm with Tom Hall';s response to Greg Magarshak. What do you say the Palestinians under occupation should do, Greg? Just lie back and think of the past, while Israel takes more and more of their land? Most unrealistic. And your comments about the Phalangists is truly disingenuous - you must surely recall what they did to the Palestinians in the refugee camps, Sabra and Shatilah, in Lebanon, aided and abetted by the IDF in the murders. And this was after Israel had invaded Lebanon and carried out the massacres of Palestinians in the Rashidiyeh refugee camp, dropping phosphorus bombs and cluster bombs on the schools and hospitals. Palestinians to blame for these massacres? Don't think so.
You are just crying crocodile tears for the Palestinians . . .