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Israel Reveals its Plan to ‘Flood the Internet’ and News Feeds with Propaganda

Forget about Adam Schiff’s mythical ‘Russian Bots’ – meet the world’s premier trolling and propaganda operation…

It’s no secret that in recent years, Israel has been struggling to preserve its plummeting global reputation, as it continues to prosecute its brutal race-based, apartheid state policies. The situation is so bad now, that officials in Tel Aviv are planning to ramp-up propaganda and trolling efforts online in an attempt to mitigate damage caused by the international BDS movement designed to help the oppressed native population currently stateless and held prisoner under Israeli military occupation.

Traditionally, Israel has used international front groups as vehicles for Israeli spy agencies to conduct subterfuge activity overseas, and to conceal “their connection with the state”, including “operating British Jewish organizations behind the [Israeli] embassy’s back in a way that could put them in violation of British law.” Similar “black ops” have also been waged against the movements which support human rights in Palestine, as well as a special Israeli “tarnishing unit” used to spread lies about BDS activists.

It goes without saying that Mark Zuckerberg and his ‘machine learning’ political censorship division at Facebook will be giving these IDF trolls a free pass to contaminate and spam its various news feeds and groups, while simultaneously shutting-down any dissenting speech which challenges the Zionist-Israeli narrative

In December 2017, appearing alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, was Israeli intelligence operative Sima Vaknin-Gil, who explains the scope of the Israeli government’s new trolling and propaganda campaign. Watch:

Electronic Intifada

When Sima Vaknin-Gil took over as director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs at the start of 2016, a crucial fact went largely unnoticed.

For years, she had been a high-ranking officer with an Israeli spy agency.

This means that for the last two years a former intelligence officer has been running Israel’s global war against BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Her ministerial boss is Gilad Erdan, a key ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

They were last month revealed to have spent huge sums creating anti-BDS propaganda targeting social media and news media.

It should be a big wake up call to all defenders of free speech and human rights when a peaceful civil society campaign is targeted by spy agencies responsible for hacking, torture, kidnapping and murder in Palestine and around the world.

Military intelligence

While hardly a secret, Vaknin-Gil’s background was barely remarked upon in the media coverage following her appointment, which focused on her previous role as Israel’s chief censor.

An extensive search turned up just one article – a December 2015 interview with arms industry magazine Israel Defense – discussing her career in intelligence.

That interview was on the eve of her appointment as the top civil servant in what is effectively Israel’s anti-BDS ministry. It revealed she had spent more than 20 years as a spy in Israeli air force intelligence, rising to the rank of brigadier general – a position she still holds as a reservist.

During that time, the magazine stated, she worked “closely with US officials and the highest ranking officers of Israeli intelligence.”

In 2005, she started her decade-long run as chief military censor, a role that required regular coordination with Israel’s top spies and military leaders, including the head of military intelligence, the chief of Mossad and the chief of the army’s general staff.

“Flood the internet”

“I want to create a community of fighters,” Vaknin-Gil said soon after her appointment to the strategic affairs ministry.

She said she planned to “flood the internet” with Israeli propaganda that would be publicly distanced from the government.

More recently, at a Jerusalem Post conference, she announced in passing that she came “from the intelligence in the IDF,” the Israeli military.

Streamed live on YouTube, the December 2017 panel was a debate on how best to combat BDS.

Vaknin-Gil conceded that BDS activists’ human rights arguments are so compelling at the grassroots in Europe and the US that “over there, unless we will do something, we will lose.”

She credited supporters of Palestinian rights with “acting very, very smartly.”

Palestine solidarity activists “are fighting for the hearts and minds of grassroots,” she said, and asserted, “we just woke up [to BDS] and we have to do it very fast.”

BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada that Israel had failed to win “the battle for hearts and minds at the grassroots level.”

According to Barghouti, Israel is “desperately trying to suppress the enormous growth of the BDS movement for Palestinian rights into the mainstream by passing draconian measures of repression and exporting them through its lobby groups to Western governments.”

Ministry’s deep spy links

Strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan’s official diary for 2016, obtained by Israeli activists and translated by The Electronic Intifada, confirms his department’s intimate links with the country’s spy agencies.

The diary lists a 17 January meeting with the head of the Shin Bet – Israel’s domestic secret police. The agency has a long history of harassing, kidnapping, torturing and murdering Palestinian activists.

The diary also shows that on 16 February 2016, Erdan had lunch with the head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas agency for spying and assassination.

And on 20 March, Erdan apparently met with the “head of 8200” – a reference to Unit 8200, the Israeli spies responsible for leading cyberwarfare efforts.

According to veterans of Unit 8200, its activities include eavesdropping on the communications of Palestinian civilians living under Israeli occupation for political persecution or to find embarrassing personal or sexual information that could be used to blackmail them into collaborating.

Buying-off the press

Vaknin-Gil’s plan to “flood the internet” mirrors previous covert efforts to spread pro-Israel propaganda.

In 2014, The Electronic Intifada uncovered a plot by tech site Israel21c to plant its puff pieces online and in media using deceptive methods.

Under Vaknin-Gil – an expert in censoring the press – the ministry is instead trying to buy off editors.

Israeli media watchdog The Seventh Eye reported last month that the ministry she runs paid the publisher of Israel’s best-selling daily newspaper $100,000 to publish articles and videos attacking BDS as “anti-Semitic.”

Published in both Hebrew and English by Yediot Ahronot and its website Ynet, the articles did not explicitly disclose that they were paid content.

One English article vaguely stated it was the result of the ministry and the publisher “joining forces,” while two such Hebrew articles stated they were “in collaboration” with the ministry.

Propaganda war

The Seventh Eye explained that this propaganda was “meant to influence readers to support a campaign Israel is waging against its critics.”

As well as Yediot, the ministry also bought faux journalism aiming to enlist support from a global audience, including from the Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post.

The 2016 Erdan diary aligns with this, listing an 18 July “meeting with the editor of The Jerusalem Post newspaper, Yaakov Katz.” The entry does not record the subject of the meeting.

The paid articles were part of a wider strategic affairs ministry campaign, which included a $740,000 budget “to promote content on social media and search engines, including Google, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram,” The Seventh Eye reported.

Another $570,000 was spent on building Act.il, an anti-BDS app, and producing videos supporters were encouraged to spread online.

One of the “missions” assigned to Israel’s propaganda foot soldiers using the Act.il app last November, according to The Jewish Daily Forward, “was to comment on a specific post on the Facebook page of the pro-Palestinian website Electronic Intifada.”

Israel’s PR operatives wanted to counter the impact of The Electronic Intifada’s reporting on the Dutch government’s support for a promotion by settlement-profiteering Israeli supermarket chain Shufersal.

The Act.il app was funded largely by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson – a major donor to anti-Palestinian causes and to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The strategic affairs ministry was forced to disclose the funding information to The Seventh Eye under Israeli freedom of information laws.

But the revelation could be one of the last such disclosures if the ministry gets its way.

Secretive ministry

Israel’s parliament in July gave preliminary approval to a bill exempting the strategic affairs ministry from the freedom of information law.

Erdan argued for the bill, which his ministry drafted, claiming that BDS was a “battlefront like any other” and there was a need to keep “our methods of action secret.”

A 7 November entry in the 2016 Erdan diary suggests that former spy Vaknin-Gil was directly involved in drafting Israeli laws against BDS…

Continue this story at Electronic Intifada

READ MORE ISRAEL NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Israel Files




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