Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Israel deploys cyber team to spread positive spin

Jonathan Cook
The National

July 21. 2009

"NAZARETH. ISRAEL // The passionate support for Israel expressed on talkback sections of websites, internet chat forums, blogs, Twitters and Facebook may not be all that it seems.

Israel’s foreign ministry is reported to be establishing a special undercover team of paid workers whose job it will be to surf the internet 24 hours a day spreading positive news about Israel......

To all intents and purposes the internet is a theatre in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we must be active in that theatre, otherwise we will lose,” said Ilan Shturman, who is responsible for the project......

The team will fall under the authority of a large department already dealing with what Israelis term “hasbara”, officially translated as “public explanation” but more usually meaning propaganda......

The project is a formalisation of public relations practices the ministry developed specifically for Israel’s assault on Gaza in December and January.

“During Operation Cast Lead we appealed to Jewish communities abroad and with their help we recruited a few thousand volunteers, who were joined by Israeli volunteers,” Mr Shturman said.

We gave them background material and hasbara material, and we sent them to represent the Israeli point of view on news websites and in polls on the internet.”.....

Israel has become particularly concerned that support is ebbing among the younger generations in Europe and the United States......."

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