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Israel’s Information Ops

The past few weeks have not been kind to Israel in the public relations department. The war against Gaza was so lopsided and obviously contrived that even in the United States pro-Israel sentiment began to soften. For those interested in fine points of national security there were three news articles of note. The first [1] quoted from a document from the Edward Snowden haul citing a 2007 National Security Agency (NSA) assessment naming Israel as the “third most aggressive intelligence service against the U.S.” It ranked just behind perennial adversaries China and Russia in terms of aggressiveness and the persistence of its espionage effort. Israel was also cited as a “leading threat” to the infrastructure of U.S. financial institutions.

The second article [2] reported how U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had his cell phone communications intercepted by Israel in 2013 when he unsuccessfully sought to negotiate a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The Secretary of State certainly has access to cell phones with encryption, though Israeli snoopers might be able to defeat such measures, but it is possible that he was speaking on open lines at the time. It is an incident recalling both the NSA tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone and the notorious Victoria Nuland phone intercepts regarding Ukraine in which she colorfully expressed her opinion of the Europeans.

The third piece [3] described how Israel was given weapons from a U.S. stockpile during its assault on Gaza, allegedly without either the White House or the State Department being informed about what was occurring. As the weapons were being used against mostly Palestinian civilians and included targeting United Nations facilities, the transfer should have been regarded as highly sensitive, politically speaking. One article [4] discussing the confusion also cited an acrimonious phone call between the Israeli prime minister and the American president, noting drily that the administration clearly has “…little influence over the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu” in spite of Tel Aviv being the leading recipient of U.S. aid dollars.

All of the above would be embarrassing enough, but Israel has also been extremely active in yet another enterprise that falls in the gray area between covert operations and overt governmental activity. Many governments seek to respond to negative commentary in the media, but they normally do it openly with an ambassador or press officer countering criticism by sending in a letter, writing an op-ed, or appearing on a talk show. Israel does indeed do that, but it also engages in other activities that are not so transparent.

When an intelligence organization seeks to influence opinion by creating and deliberately circulating false information, it is referred to as a “disinformation operation.” Such activity is generally described as public diplomacy when it is done openly by a recognized government official and the information itself is both plausible and verifiable, at least within reasonable limits. But Israel has refined the art of something in between, what might be referred to more accurately as “perception management” or “influence operations” in which it only very rarely shows its hand overtly, in many cases paying students as part-time bloggers or exploiting diaspora Jews as volunteers to get its message out. The practice is so systemic [5], involving recruitment, training, Foreign Ministry-prepared information sheets, and internet alerts to potential targets, that it is frequently described by its Hebrew name, hasbara, which means literally “public explanation.” It is essentially an internet-focused “information war” that parallels and supports the military action whenever Israel enters into conflict with any of its neighbors.

The hasbara onslaught inevitably cranks up when Israel is being strongly criticized. There were notable surges in activity when Israel attacked Gaza in 2009 and 2012, as well as when it hijacked the Turkish humanitarian relief ship the Mavi Marmara in 2011. The recent Gaza fighting has inevitably followed suit, producing a perfect storm of pro-Israel commentary. The comments tend to appear in large numbers on websites where moderation and registration requirements are minimal, including Yahoo! News, or Facebook and Twitter. Sites like TAC as well as leading national newspapers have much stricter management control over who comments, and are generally avoided.

The hasbara comments are noticeable as they tend to sound like boilerplate, and run contrary to or even ignore what other contributors to the site are writing. They often include spelling and syntactical hints that the writer is not natively fluent in English. As is the practice at corporate customer support call centers in Asia, the commenters generally go by American-sounding names and they never indicate that they are Israelis or working on behalf of the Israeli government. They tend to repeat over and over again sound bites of pseudo-information, most recently maintaining falsely that Hamas had started the “war” and that Israel was only defending itself. The commenters operate in the belief that if something is repeated often enough in many different places it will ipso facto gain some credibility and create doubts regarding contrary points of view.

That Israel is engaged in perception management on a large scale has more-or-less been admitted [5] by the Israeli government, and some of its mechanisms have been identified. The Israeli Foreign Ministry even sent a letter out to a number of pro-Israel organizations emphasizing the “importance of the internet as the new battleground for Israel’s image.” Haaretz reported [6] in 2013 how Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office collaborated with the National Union of Israeli Students to establish “covert units” at the seven national universities to be structured in a “semi-military” fashion and organized in situation rooms. Students are paid [7] as much as $2,000 monthly to work the online targets.

The serious collaboration between government and volunteers actually began [8] with Operation Cast Lead in early 2009, an incursion into Gaza that killed more than 1,800 Palestinians, when the Foreign Ministry pulled together a group of mostly young computer savvy soldiers supplemented by students both overseas and within Israel to post a number of government-crafted responses to international criticism.

Many of the volunteers worked through [5] a website giyus.org (an acronym for Give Israel Your United Support). The website included a desktop tool called Megaphone that provided daily updates on articles appearing on the internet that had to be challenged or attacked. There were once believed to be 50,000 activists receiving the now-inactive Megaphone’s alerts.

There have also been reports [9] about a pro-Israel American group called Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) preparing to enter its own version of developments in the Middle East on the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia. E-mails from CAMERA reveal that the group sought volunteers in 2008 to edit material on Wikipedia “to help us keep Israel-related entries … from becoming tainted by anti-Israel editors,” while also recommending that articles on the Middle East be avoided initially by supporters so as not to arouse suspicions about their motives. Volunteers were also advised to use false names that did not hint at any Israeli or Jewish connection and to avoid any references to being organized by CAMERA. Fifty volunteers reportedly were actively engaged in the program when it was exposed in the media and the program was put on hold.

CAMERA is an Internal Revenue Service-approved 501(c)(3) organization, which means that contributions to it are tax exempt. Such exemptions are granted to organizations that are either charitable or educational in nature and they normally preclude any involvement in partisan political activity. As CAMERA would not appear to qualify as a charity, it is to be presumed that its application for special tax status stressed that it is educational. Whether its involvement in “un-tainting” Wikipedia truly falls within that definition might well be debated, particularly as it appears to have been carried out in semi-clandestine fashion. CAMERA might well also be considered to be a good candidate for registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) [10], as its activity is uniquely focused on promoting the perceived interests of a foreign government.

The use of the nation’s universities as propaganda mills by the Israeli government also raises other significant issues. The growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement (BDS) [11] has included some universities as targets because of their alleged involvement with the government in the occupation of the West Bank. That the universities are also involved in possible government-sponsored information operations might be an additional convincing argument that BDS supporters might use to justify blacklisting at least some Israeli academic institutions.

Every government is engaged in selling a product, which is its own self-justifying view of what it does and how it does it. But the American public in particular should be aware of the extraordinary efforts that Israel and its supporters make to present a crafted and coordinated image through the media, particularly by way of the Internet. There are certainly many reasons why the United States uniquely views Israel favorably, but the skillful use of information manipulation and perception management certainly contributes to the process.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

40 Comments (Open | Close)

40 Comments To "Israel’s Information Ops"

#1 Comment By jk On August 20, 2014 @ 2:58 am

These organization cannot compete with Israel’s main propaganda arm, AIPAC.

#2 Comment By affenkopf On August 20, 2014 @ 5:15 am

Russia uses similar tactics when it comes to comments regarding the Ukraine conflict. I wonder when western governments will start (if they haven’t already).

#3 Comment By Turing Test On August 20, 2014 @ 6:33 am

Spotting hasbara is at least as easy as it was spotting the (often amusingly crude) stuff from Radio Moscow or Radio Peking during the Cold War. Child’s play, really. The usual giveaways, leaden prose, phrase-mongering, repetition, the immanence of calculation, and, as you mention, flat statement and the inability to engage at the human level. (Given the degree to which Israel has become Russian, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a few hasbarites aren’t Radio Moscow alumni.)

The more robotic, pro forma hasbara is generally directed at non-Americans. America is a separate and very special case. We are the chief target of Israeli spying and get far more intense and effective attention from far more sophisticated agents of influence, some of whom easily pass as “Americans.” Indeed, some are “Americans”.

#4 Comment By steve in ohio On August 20, 2014 @ 9:44 am

The Israelis have been quite successful winning the support of American churches. The evangelical church we’ve been attending has an Israeli flag on the stage. The flag is held and raised high during prayer time which always includes prayer for Israel–and to be fair for Palestinian civilians.

#5 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 20, 2014 @ 10:34 am

Another tool in the creation of Israeli propaganda is the 112-page (“not for distribution or publication”) “Luntz Report”, officially entitled “The Israel project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary.”

Patrick Coburn in his “The secret report that helps Israel hide facts — The slickness of Israel’s spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by the pollster Frank Luntz” explained the importance of the Luntz Report for the entire Israeli misinformation/disinformation campaign:

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#6 Comment By A DC Wonk On August 20, 2014 @ 10:56 am

What’s the news here? Everybody tries to get “their” message out and/or tries to be a watchdog to the media for what they perceive to be unfair or biased reporting.

Al Jazeera, anyone? Russia Today? Voice of America?

You have CAMERA on one side, and CNI and CAIR (Council on American–Islamic Relations) doing somewhat similar work on the other.

Media Matters on the left, Media Research Center on the right. Fox? MS-NBC? Organizations on both sides of the climate change issue.

And so it goes.

You know, First Amendment thing?

Oh, and by the way, I’d encourage readers to read more about Mr Giraldi’s own organization, Council for the National Interest. Perhaps [13] from just last year, in which the president of CNI describes Israel’s “violent” founding and ethnic cleansing; or her other organization, If Americans Knew, and [14] of the founding of Israel as a holocaust.

Indeed, I welcome CAMERA even just as a counterpoint to CNI.

No wonder why CNI is attacking them.

Ironic, no?

#7 Comment By Clint On August 20, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

“In a section of the document headed ‘Foreign Intelligence, Counterintelligence; Denial & Deception Activities: Countering Foreign Intelligence Threats,’ Israel was listed as a leading perpetrator of ‘espionage/intelligence collection operations and manipulation/influence operations…against U.S. government, military, science & technology and Intelligence Community’ organs.”

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#8 Comment By James Canning On August 20, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

Great piece. And is Israel in effect preventing US pressure on itself, to stop the growth of the illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank?

#9 Comment By Philip Giraldi On August 20, 2014 @ 1:54 pm

DC Wonk – I don’t normally respond to ad hominem criticism, but in your case I will make an exception as you appear to be poorly informed. The difference about the Israeli hasbara program is that it is a largely clandestine effort to influence American opinion coming from a country that receives $3.5 billion annually from the US taxpayer. In other words, we are paying to be propagandized by people working for a foreign government who pretend to be our fellow citizens but are not. Israel hides itself deliberately whereas when RT and al Jazeera report something they are transparent and you know the source of the information and can weigh it accordingly. Likewise when I write something I use my real name…you are DC Wonk?

My own organization Council for the National Interest, of which I am executive director, believes,as the name implies, that America’s foreign policy should be based on our own national interests not those of a foreign country. Isn’t that what you believe? Or maybe not.

Alison Weir was only reflecting the recent books by noted Israeli historians Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe. Both have documented how from the beginning Israel’s leaders attempted to cleanse their new country of the Arab occupants of the land that it was occupying. They were largely successful with the Palestinians referring to it as their holocaust, which they call the Nakba. Pappe’s book is entitled “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.” I suggest that you read it. If you are really in DC I can lend you my copy.

#10 Comment By Lorraine Barlett On August 20, 2014 @ 2:47 pm

Ha, good comeback Phil… I am thinking that ‘DC Wonk” may actually be one of the pseudonyms 0f the fellow reported on in todays’ Common Dreams expose: [16]

#11 Comment By A DC Wonk On August 20, 2014 @ 3:01 pm

With all due respect, Mr. Giraldi, I was not attempting to engage in ad hominem. To respond to your comment, and further explain my points:

1. Hasbara has been around for 40 years and it’s pretty open. You give the impression of a dark conspiracy when you claim it is “a largely clandestine effort”

2. “Alison Weir was only reflecting…” No she wasn’t. She was expressing approval and agreement with their opinions. My point of bringing her in was simple: your organization has taken anti-Zionist positions for a long time (not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that), and, thus, are at odds with the likes of CAMERA. That’s fine — First Amendment and all that. But it shows an institutional bias that lies behind your article. I think readers should be aware of that.

3. You can continue to assert that CAMERA and habara is “propaganda” — but your propaganda is somebody else’s useful information. CAMERA is just like the right wing’s “Accuracy in Media” with a different focus. Is AIM also propaganda? Is Fox News propaganda? It probably is to left wingers, it’s probably a beacon of truth to many on the right.

My bottom line is this: I think it’s important for readers to know that your group has long been at odds with CAMERA.

And that CAMERA is just trying to rectify what they consider to be media bias.

I think that’s a long way from the impression that your article gives: that hasbara is a dark conspiracy and that those who work for CAMERA ought to be considered foreign agents.

#12 Comment By ELiteCommInc. On August 20, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

Here’s the huge hit on Israeli intelligence. I once assumed as did most others perhaps, that Israeli intel was the best in the world. But what I now realize is that there is a difference in disinformation, interrogation and intel gathering which generally fall under the same umbrella operated by Intel agencies.

Israel as our “friend in the region” didn’t have any better read on Iraq, Afghanistan or any of the other players in that sphere. What they have given us are techniques in interrogation and character assassination.

#13 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 20, 2014 @ 4:45 pm

Most Americans would agree with Philip Giraldi that “America’s foreign policy should be based on our own national interests not those of a foreign country.”

Yet the American author of The Israel Project’s “2009 GLOBAL LANGUAGE DICTIONARY”, Frank Luntz (please see my comment of 10:34 am), hopes in his preface “that advocates for Israel will benefit from the massive amount of work that went into the creation of this booklet.”

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the American Founder & President of the Israel Project writes in the same document: “We offer this guide to visionary leaders who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel.”

Note that neither Luntz nor Misrahi is arguing in terms of American national interest. On the contrary, via their references to “advocates for Israel” and “the media war for Israel” they make clear that they are working to advance the national interests of a foreign power.

Furthermore, their stamping of every page of the document with the words “Not for distribution or publication” makes clear that they would prefer to hide the fact that they are working on behalf of a foreign power.

#14 Comment By Hooly On August 20, 2014 @ 5:22 pm

Mr. Giraldi,

So Israel gets a lot of people to spread favorable points of view and speak up for it. Yeah, so? Last time I checked, America still allowed free speech. Why the shock and horror? There are a lot of pro-Israel people in America and beyond, including myself, who didn’t get any direction from the Israeli Foreign Ministry. I speak up for Israel because I think they are in the right, and Hamas and anti-Israel people like you are in the wrong. Period.

#15 Comment By KXB On August 20, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

I came across one of these hasbaraistas (copyright!) at The Atlantic. Robert Wright wrote about the McCarthyite tendencies of pro-Israel voices, and I was going back and forth with a guy “Kahalani” who claimed to be an active US serviceman, claiming that “we’re fighting the same terrorists.” But, he must have still been green, because I recognized some passages from another website, and when I noted it, he got all defensive, saying, “Oh, I did not know cut and paste was off-limits”. I responded that it was off limits, just don’t pass it off a your own. If you can cut and paste the text, do the same with the authors’ names.

#16 Comment By KXB On August 20, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

Correction – the copied text was first identified by another poster (FB363) did.

#17 Comment By Clint On August 20, 2014 @ 6:59 pm

Scott McConnell,
“The Americans in Israel’s camp at least think that ‘what’s good for Israel is good for America’—or at least so they proclaim, publicly. But no one can imagine that feeding Israel eavesdropped information on Americans is good for those Americans—that’s why this ugly program has been kept secret.”

#18 Comment By g something On August 20, 2014 @ 10:00 pm

Last time I checked, America still allowed free speech. Why the shock and horror? There are a lot of pro-Israel people in America and beyond, including myself, who didn’t get any direction from the Israeli Foreign Ministry. I speak up for Israel because I think they are in the right, and Hamas and anti-Israel people like you are in the wrong. Period.

No need to get excited, Mr. Hooly. As long as you aren’t working for the Israeli government you have nothing to fear. But you’ll understand that most Americans naturally regard someone using his 1st amendment right to take up the cause of a foreign country as pretty fishy.

#19 Comment By Benjamin P. Glaser On August 20, 2014 @ 10:38 pm

This article is an example of American Conservative’s penchant to employ folks whose only purpose it seems is to scream “WE ARE NOT LIKE THOSE SILLY NEO-CONS” over and over again in their articles.

#20 Comment By Doven Hooker On August 20, 2014 @ 11:13 pm

Its disappointing to read comments by nationalist cheerleaders like “Hooly” above who cry “free speech” in support of a propaganda campaign financed by a foreign government directed at Americans (among others). Perhaps she is working under a hasbara fellowship?

This sort of coordinated, manufactured “speech” is certainly protected by the 1st Amendment; but it is one of the lower varieties. And it doesn’t hurt to remind or inform us – as the case may be – of what a powerful and untrustworthy (from an American perspective) government is doing to influence our perceptions and analysis.

In any case, Israel’s propaganda machine (like those of other repressive and genocidal governments in history) is failing, in spite of the expensive propaganda strategies and its university brain trust.

Thank you for your article, Mr Giraldi.

#21 Comment By Aaron Gross On August 20, 2014 @ 11:40 pm

Just as a side point, why do you refer to the Israeli government as “Tel Aviv”? No one, not even the most anti-Israel person, denies that the seat of government is Jerusalem. Even Wikipedia states that as a fact. (This is separate from the question of which city, if any, is Israel’s capital; the seat of government is not always the capital.)

You even use “Tel Aviv” in the context of a sentence about “the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” whose office of course is not in Tel Aviv, but in Jerusalem!

Do you use “Tel Aviv” because that’s a journalistic convention and conventions, accurate or not, should usually be followed? Or is there some logical reason to use “Tel Aviv” as a metonym for the Israeli government? Or is it just something you haven’t thought about one way or the other? This is a not a rhetorical question; I won’t jump on your answer, if you choose to answer.

#22 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 21, 2014 @ 8:42 am

A DC Wonk to Philip Giraldi:

“…The impression that your article gives: that hasbara is a dark conspiracy and that those who work for CAMERA ought to be considered foreign agents.”

Indeed, Philip Giraldi is not alone in wondering if “CAMERA might well also be considered to be a good candidate for registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA), as its activity is uniquely focused on promoting the perceived interests of a foreign government.”

Check out: “Foreign Lobbying Database Up and Running” – The Congressional Quarterly, re-published in The New York Times – May 30, 2007

[17]

No, DC Wonk, this discussion is not just a “First Amendment thing.” Although you’re constitutionally entitled to have your say, if you’re working for a foreign government the American people have a right to know where you’re coming from.

#23 Comment By Philip Giraldi On August 21, 2014 @ 10:46 am

Aaron Gross – Tel Aviv is where the US Embassy and every other Embassy that is present in Israel is/are located. Jerusalem is not recognized by anyone as Israel’s capital because it is considered disputed territory under international law. So referring to Tel Aviv is basically another way of saying the Israeli government, though you are quite right in noting that is lacks geographical and political context if nothing else.

#24 Comment By Philip Giraldi On August 21, 2014 @ 10:46 am

Aaron Gross – Tel Aviv is where the US Embassy and every other Embassy that is present in Israel is/are located. Jerusalem is not recognized by anyone as Israel’s capital because it is considered disputed territory under international law. So referring to Tel Aviv is basically another way of saying the Israeli government, though you are quite right in noting that is lacks geographical and political context if nothing else.

#25 Comment By A DC Wonk On August 21, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

Giraldi writes:

Jerusalem is not recognized by anyone as Israel’s capital because it is considered disputed territory under international law.

Oh no it isn’t. The Knesset and other Israeli government buildings are in West Jerusalem. You surely know that, right?

You also surely know that nobody disputes Israel’s right to West Jerusalem, right? (Well, except for Hamas, et al)

Factual errors that deny the legitimacy of Israel to even West Jerusalem is exactly the kind of bias your organization has, and why I posted what I did. Readers should know where your organization is coming from.

And for others, if you wonder what hasbara is supposed to do: it’s supposed to inform people of facts — or perhaps I should say, correct disinformation — such as the above.

#26 Comment By international city On August 21, 2014 @ 1:18 pm

“No one, not even the most anti-Israel person, denies that the seat of government is Jerusalem. “

Israel can seat its government wherever it wants, but no nation on earth accepts its claim to Jerusalem.

If it had the guts it could expel all those embassies in Tel Aviv, but it doesn’t.

#27 Comment By Pete On August 21, 2014 @ 2:05 pm

These propaganda tactics against the US population pre-date the internet by decades….

“Between 1962-1963 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee subpoenaed internal reports of the American Zionist Council during its investigation into the activities of registered agents of foreign principals. They discovered that more than $5 million in tax exempt (and possibly overseas donations) had been laundered through the Jewish Agency’s American Section into the American Zionist Council. The Jewish Agency functioned as a quasi-branch of the Israeli government, received Israeli government funding, and was able to review legislation before it went to the Knesset under its Covenant Agreement.

This violated IRS regulations on the use of tax exempt charitable funds and the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The following reports detail how the American Zionist Council used the funding in a sophisticated campaign to cajole and intimidate news media, subvert open debate about Israel and undermine reporting about key issues of the day such as Israel’s Dimona nuclear weapons facility, operation Susannah terror attacks on the United States, and the return of Arab refugees to their homes. The AZC tracked and targeted professors and engaged in covert operations obliquely referred to in the following internal reports.”

[18]

Read the documents. You will be astonished by:

1. How well organized these efforts have been, and

2. Jewish US citizens were reflexively assumed to care more about Israel than the US by the American Zionist Council. I defer to their judgement on that question.

#28 Comment By Pete On August 21, 2014 @ 2:29 pm

Here’s a poster in PDF format outlining the structure and function of Hasbara from “Molad”. It’s an Israeli organization who’s tagline/motto is, “The Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy”.

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#29 Comment By Philip Giraldi On August 21, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

DC Wonk -Sorry it is you who are wrong. No other country accepts that Jerusalem is the legal capital of Israel because the “ownership” of the city is considered to be in dispute. That is why no embassies are there and the presence of the Knesset in West Jerusalem is immaterial.

#30 Comment By Adam Albrett On August 21, 2014 @ 4:51 pm

Mr. Giraldi,

I wrote what is below before your most recent exchange with the delusional “DC Wonk.” I am happy to say that there is no real dispute or issue in international law with regards to Jerusalem or the rest of Palestine, but Zionists and Israel are failing and will always fail at persuasively convincing people that there is as much.

I would strongly disagree with the characterization of Israel as the “third most aggressive intelligence service against the U.S” because Israel, through the use of threats that our feckless and treasonous officials give in to, gets tens of thousands of times what adversaries China and Russia get through hard effort some of which may in fact be aided by Israel as I have argued elsewhere in reaction to some of your other articles dealing with the Jewish Israel lobby and spying. There are other threats that Israel and Zionists (American or otherwise) make that have at least an equally deleterious effect on national security and it’s time that both sets of threats are rejected.

With regards to CAMERA, I have faith in the American people and believe that Zionists and Israelis know that most of the Americans whose intelligence they have insulted and whose trusting natures they exploited will drive them to accountability and they won’t be able to use the Israelization (misleadingly referred to as the militarization) of the police among other things to keep the American people cowed and fearful in order to avoid accountability. There is a big distinction between being the sources of lies, disinformation, dissimulation, distortions, half-truths,…and an organization working hard to make some of those sources appear to be reliable, credible and objective if it serves their collective interests or to misleadingly and falsely make some (e.g, NY Times, Washington Post,…) appear to be the opposite if it would be even more preferable to do so. I have faith especially in the Americans whose intelligence has been insulted and whose trusting natures have been exploited to harm them and others. There is no desire for justice and accountability like that of someone who recognizes that they have been a victim, an unwitting victimizer, or both, and even Eric Holder, who is described by the administration as its “s*** magnet,” or others like him will not be able to save Israel and its accomplices or take blame for what they are mostly responsible.

If your intent in replying to Aaron Gross was to use the terms “disputed territory under international law” and “lacks geographical and political context” as repudiating ‘gibberish’ in order to reject all claims of Zionists under guise of seeming to confirm some of them, you are showing signs of progress at mocking Zionists, Israelis and their supporters and making people laugh at their expense (I LAUGHED!). Asssuming I am correct as to your intent, you don’t want to limit yourself to the repertoire of Nietzsche’s dog who, in discovering irony and sarcasm, learnt how to ‘laugh’ (i.e., mock), but forgot how to bite. Next time just go for it like the French and the Italians did in the days of Balfour* and let your soul revel in laughing and forcing the oppressor towards unavoidable accountability.

If I am mistaken as to your intent, I respectfully request 1) that you and those who often attack you to support the unsupportable claim that under international law Jerusalem (or the West Bank and Gaza) is disputed territory and 2) that you clarify what you mean by “lacks geographical and political context.” You should know that I have never in my life encountered an example of a Zionist argument that actually helped the Zionist case and which failed to help the Palestinian case. Never, and objectively speaking I never will.

*http://albrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/it-is-impossible-not-to-admire-the-neatness-of-the-rebuke-the-hoisting-of-the-political-zionists-with-their-own-petard-by-rejecting-their-claims-under-guise-of-confirming-them/

#31 Comment By TTT On August 21, 2014 @ 6:14 pm

The growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement (BDS) has included some universities as targets because of their alleged involvement with the government in the occupation of the West Bank.

A recent BDS rally in Paris culminated with a violent riot against a synagogue and attempt to kill all the Jews inside. You can clearly see the flags here during this pogrom:

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The moral judgments of BDS are forfeit. No big loss as they’d accomplished nothing from a policy perspective except banning kosher food from some grocery stores in London. But that’s the sort of thing we’re not allowed to call them anti-Semitic for, right?

And Mr. Giraldi – “DC Wonk” got your number, particularly regarding the gross historical revisionism of “If Americans Knew.” IAK presents the founding of Israel as one Jewish massacre after another, completely omitting the prior DECADES of Arab riots and mass-murder, and the subsequent apartheid established in nearly every Arab state as they expelled their Jews. IAK also has the gall to suggest David Ben-Gurion was guilty of not fighting Hitler hard enough, when the man was head of an NGO with none of the intel, financial, or military assets of a state behind him; meanwhile, Arab leaders like the Mufti of Jerusalem met with Hitler and toured the death camps, and liked what they saw so much they sent divisions of Muslims to join the Waffen SS and kill Jews IN EUROPE.

But false histories and murder-excusing spin of that nature are the sort of thing we’re not allowed to call them anti-Semitic for, right?

#32 Comment By Tom On August 22, 2014 @ 12:08 am

West Jerusalem is also not recognized as being a part of Israel.

Of course, this would change in a comprehensive settlement. However, in the absence of such a settlement, the status of Jerusalem remains unresolved.

#33 Comment By Marc Montoni On August 22, 2014 @ 8:17 am

Yes, the United States government gives Israel $3 billion in annual aid. Not content to buy that country, it also funnels cash to the Palestinians (half a billion annually [21] ), Syria ($500 million annually), Egypt (1.5 billion), Jordan ($660 million), and many others throughout the Middle East.

We have our fingers in every pie.

The Palestinians are among the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid.

Only a biased idiot thinks that it’s only Israel that uses millions of our dollars for propagandizing.

And only a biased idiot thinks Israel is the only one doing it “covertly”.

#34 Comment By carroll price On August 22, 2014 @ 9:47 am

Israel can dispense with their foreign aid dollars any way they choose, but it’s hard to imagine any propaganda project producing greater returns-on-the-dollar than the cash and gifts Israel has presented to Christian fundamentalist like Jerry Falwell and John Hagee.

#35 Comment By A DC Wonk On August 22, 2014 @ 10:14 am

You are evading my point.

DC Wonk -Sorry it is you who are wrong. No other country accepts that Jerusalem is the legal capital of Israel because the “ownership” of the city is considered to be in dispute. That is why no embassies are there and the presence of the Knesset in West Jerusalem is immaterial.

West Jerusalem was part of Israel in the original 1948 mandate of the UN, also ratified by the 1967 border agreements. It is on the west side of the so-called Green Line. There has never been a dispute over that land. The seat of government has been there since 1948.

The ownership of West Jerusalem has absolutely nothing to do with the disputed ownership of East Jerusalem, which came about in 1967.

#36 Comment By Macroman On August 22, 2014 @ 10:25 am

One of my all time favorite articles of yours, Mr. Giraldi. I always assumed “You’re a paid troll” retorts were ludicrous. Who would pay trolls? Expensive and pretty pointless…ah ha! Governments would pay trolls with other people’s money.

#37 Comment By nomorewaryouprats On August 22, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

I highly recommend the article on CommonDreams to which Larraine Barlett has linked above in her comment. CommonDreams claims to have lost the financial support of hundreds of donors because of the prolific anti- and philosemitic commentary of a single Harvard educated poster using upwards of thirty sockpuppet accounts on their site and elsewhere on the net. CommonDreams tracked this hasbarist down and nailed him cold. The point of all this manufactured discourse is to conflate the American national interest with the Israeli national interest, and the surest way to do this is to elevate Israeli concerns to the forefront of any discussion about U.S. Middle East policy by making it appear that ordinary Americans (i.e., Mr. Hasbara’s sockpuppets) in great numbers are seen to be spontaneously defending Israel against hordes of anti-semites (also Mr. Hasbarist’s sockpuppets) who opportunistically appear every time Israel gets egg on its face. There’s no knowing how pervasively this disinformation has been spread throughout the vast number of discussion boards on the internet, but if we are to judge by the thousands of phony comments posted by this one individual, almost ALL such commentary is suspect, and the presumed passionate attachment ordinary Americans feel for the state of Israel is suspect as well.

#38 Comment By David Chu On August 23, 2014 @ 9:58 am

Israel’s DIS-Information Ops.

Thanks to Pete for that PDF link to Hasbara ops.

#39 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 25, 2014 @ 9:02 am

Lorraine Barlett posted a three-line comment under Philip Giraldi’s excellent August 20th article (“Israel’s Information Ops — When Tel Aviv goes to war, universities and activists are organized to beat back the bad news”).

With her comment she included this link to an August 20th article entitled “The Double Identity of an ‘Anti-Semitic’ Commenter” written by Lance Tapley and posted on progressive website “Common Dreams”:

[16]

I was busy at the time, so I only glanced at the Tapley piece. But later, when I went back and read “The Double Identity…” carefully, I was struck by its implications.

I suddenly imagined a few thousand Donald Segretti clones sitting at computers around the world doing “the ‘Jason Beck’ thing.”

As someone who uses his own name under his on-line posts, and who didn’t own a computer until he was well into his 50s, I guess I’m more naive than most about the technology that enables the “Jason Becks” to hide their real identities and to masquerade as dozens of different screen-name characters.

But “The Double Identity of an ‘Anti-Semitic’ Commenter” certainly opened my eyes to a lot of potentially serious problems.

#40 Comment By Suzanne On August 26, 2014 @ 9:44 am

My goodness, Phil, some of the comments on your excellent article certainly proved the premise post haste and brought the hasbara/CAMERA trolls skuttling out in force. Amazing!