Re: It’s not just Muslims threatened by Israeli groups churning far-right hatred | Last week, a Guardian investigation traced a network of Facebook accounts fuelling far-right Islamophobic pages around the world to Israel. Journalist

Re:  It’s not just Muslims threatened by Israeli groups churning far-right hatred

Re: It’s not just Muslims threatened by Israeli groups churning far-right hatred

Re: It’s not just Muslims threatened by Israeli groups churning far-right hatred

Re: It’s not just Muslims threatened by Israeli groups churning far-right hatred

Re: It’s not just Muslims threatened by Israeli groups churning far-right hatred

Re: It’s not just Muslims threatened by Israeli groups churning far-right hatred
Re: It’s not just Muslims threatened by Israeli groups churning far-right hatred
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Last week, a investigation traced a network of Facebook accounts fuelling far-right Islamophobic pages around the world to Israel. Journalists at the UK daily uncovered a plot to take over some of Facebook’s largest far-right pages in an attempt to foment hatred towards Islam and Muslims while fostering support for Israel, in a report titled

As many as 21 of the of the biggest far-right Facebook pages churning out hatred of Muslims at an industrial scale were tracked to “a mysterious Israeli-based group.” Thousands of coordinated fake news posts per week were being produced and circulated to millions of followers around the world.

Major concerns over foreign interference were highlighted in the report published as part of the “transparency project.” It found that messages that were being spread as part of a covert plot included those linked to right-wing terror groups.

Posts from the pro-Israel group stoked what the authors described as “deep hatred of Islam across the western world and influence politics in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.” Israeli groups were found to be “amplifying far-right parties such as Australia’s One Nation and vilifying Muslim politicians such as the London mayor Sadiq Khan, and the US congresswoman Ilhan Omar”. The latter, like Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, has been the target of a merciless smear campaign to label the Minnesota representative as an anti-Semite.

Details that should raise questions over the anti-Semitism row gripping the British public since Corbyn became leader in 2015 include the fact that attacks on left-wing politicians were timed at critical points in national election campaigns. False stories claiming that Corbyn had said Jews were “the source of global terrorism” were spread to millions of Facebook followers.

While the investigation shed light on this worrying development that threatens to undermine the democratic process, it failed to adequately address the reasons for the rise of such networks within Israel. The authors suggested that these groups peddling anti-Muslim hate and spreading pro-Israel propaganda were motivated in “milking the traffic for profit” and seeking to “create a commercial enterprise that harvests Islamophobic hate for profit.”

Their suggestion, though, ignores a plethora of data indicating that the industrial scale production of hatred towards Muslims and the circulation of fake news by pro-Israel groups is more than just the commercialisation of hate.

It should be noted that one of the top priorities of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in 2015 was to deal with the global rise in pro-Palestine activism. His solution was to adopt a more aggressive response to, for example, the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Netanyahu appointed his Ministry of Strategic Affairs to marshal pro-Israel sympathisers and create covert, anonymous groups to target pro-Palestine activists, often with the help of professional political consultants.

Since the ministry’s launch, Israel has put together a million dollar troll army of more than 15,000 to “influence foreign publics” and “battle” BDS. At times the recruitment drive is rather shameless. In May, for instance, Israel embarked on a massive recruitment drive for its online propaganda campaign through an initiative unveiled by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

Details of the tendering process for recruiting pro-Israeli activists were published in the British newspaper . The right-wing community paper has led a vicious campaign against Corbyn with several sensational headlines including a warning to the British public that Jews would flee the UK if Labour were to win this month’s general election. The Israeli government offered $1.6 million to successful candidates for creating online campaigns designed to combat BDS and to offer support to anti-Palestinian groups hosting pro-Israel events across the world.

In the same month Israel launched a recruitment drive in the , its firms were uncovered by Facebook for meddling in the elections of several African, Asian and Latin American countries. The social media giant traced the accounts to Archimedes Group, a private company based near Tel Aviv which had engineered the campaign.

While Israeli firms have developed a reputation as the go-to places for anyone wishing to manipulate election results, these arsenals of propaganda have been deployed most successfully in efforts to vilify pro-Palestinian groups and critics of Israel. Earlier this year an investigation found fake online accounts being used to fuel the anti-Semitism row within the Labour Party. Several Twitter accounts posed as Corbyn supporters while issuing virulent anti-Semitic posts.

Similar tactics uncovered in the investigation appear to have been used in the campaign against Labour. There were reasons to suspect that the accounts, seemingly supporting Corbyn while spreading anti-Semitism, belonged to the same person or group. Six of the 10 fake profiles were ostensibly Muslims that posted some of the most disturbing anti-Semitic posts, including direct calls for violence against Jews. In one instance the fake Twitter accounts responded to the targeting of the official Twitter accounts of Corbyn and his deputy, John McDonnell, by threating “Jihad” against “Jews” alongside a bloody graphic of a knife.

In the US, a Jewish daily newspaper, uncovered practices of pro-Israel groups that resembled tactics that maybe best described as guerrilla warfare on social media. A series of articles were published by the paper exposing the source of funding for many of the hyper-aggressive and shadowy groups believed to be spearheading a coordinated hate campaign against critics of Israel.

Community heads and prominent Jewish organisations with a carefully-crafted and respectable public profile were found donating millions to fund projects targeting students and lecturers. On a number of occasions, their blind support for Israel has seen them bankroll far-right and anti-Muslim hate groups. A series of exposés revealed that one of the many foundations controlled by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, a major Jewish charity with an annual budget of over $100 million, had donated to groups whose work has drawn comparisons to a McCarthyite blacklist.

For those that have been following the rise of hate groups and fake news, the investigation on far-right Islamophobic sites being spread around the world by networks located in Israel will not have come as a shock. With Israel increasingly seen by racists and far-rights extremists as an ideal political model to fulfil the aspirations of ethno-religious nationalists, this worrying pattern of the vilification of Muslims is set to continue. While at this moment Islam and Muslims may be their target, the ultimate goal is to accelerate the retreat of a multi-national system founded on the ideals of a rules based international order, respect for human rights and minorities.

If this sounds hyperbolic, consider the statement of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who last month reduced Palestine to an extra-legal matter by urging us to dispose of the legal framework for determining right from wrong on the question of illegal Israeli settlements. The trend has been set and many an autocrat and dictator are sure to follow.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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Re:  Israeli army tests new rocket propulsion system

Re: Israeli army tests new rocket propulsion system

Israeli Defense Forces have tested a new rocket propulsion system, Israeli media reported, noting that the test was conducted from an airbase in Israel.

The Israeli Defense Forces did not issue more detail, according to Israeli media. All that has emerged on the topic was that the test had been planned in advance and performed as expected.

The Jerusalem Post reported the Israeli TV channel, Channel 13, stating that Ben-Gurion International Airport had diverted air traffic during the test to allow for the system to be fired safely.

Analysts suspected that it may be the surface-to-surface Jericho system, an intercontinental ballistic missile which according to foreign reports can support a nuclear payload.

According to Israeli Ynet News, Israeli expert Ron Ben-Yishai, affirmed that this missile is to reinforce Israel’s deterrence against Iranian development of its Shehab 3 – a ballistic missile which is able of carrying nuclear warheads.

Commenting on this, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, posted on twitter: “Israel today tested a nuke-missile, aimed at Iran.”

Zarif added: “E3 & US never complain about the only nuclear arsenal in West Asia—armed with missiles actually DESIGNED to be capable of carrying nukes—but has fits of apoplexy over our conventional & defensive ones.”

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Re: Jerusalem: Adding fuel to fire – Middle East Monitor

Re: Jerusalem: Adding fuel to fire – Middle East Monitor

Israel has practised its organised terrorism against the city of Jerusalem, and raised the level of crimes and attacks, to impose a new reality that could be the prelude to pushing Jerusalemites to forcibly leave the Holy City. These repeated attacks on the citizens, their land, their property, their livelihoods, their sanctities and their resilience, have not stopped for a moment.

The policy of collective punishment adopted by Israel and its systematic campaigns of abuse, affect people, trees and stones. It also carries out dozens of arrests on a daily basis in Jerusalem, as well as the night raids that spare no women or children, the continuous expulsion of all activists and those stationed in Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israel has also demolished buildings under the pretext of a lack of permits, has seized the homes of Jerusalemites and suppressed all activities in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Every time Jerusalemites are beaten, assaulted and relentlessly repressed, the occupation does not refrain from using sticks, poisonous gas bombs, rubber bullets or sound bombs. They boast about their crimes, while directly shooting the youth in Jerusalem to eradicate them. They kill female activists in cold blood under false security pretexts, to terrorise Jerusalemites and spread fear in their hearts.

This barbarism and retaliatory policies of the occupation also affects schools, and hinders students from accessing them. These students have been terrorised and intimidated in a manner that violates all international treaties and covenants, which guarantee the right to education and safe access for children to their educational institutions. The barriers, the restrictions on freedom of movement and the controlling of who enters Al-Aqsa Mosque, clearly demonstrates that the occupation is continuing its racist and expansionist plan, aiming to impose temporal and spatial division as a .

The occupation justifies itself under the pretext of “terrorism” to close cultural, social and educational institutions in Jerusalem. The matter has even reached the level of prohibiting any institutions affiliated with the Palestinian Authority (PA), from operating in Jerusalem. Therefore, the people only see the occupation authorities and they do not see the presence of any other parties carrying out their work. Occupation is occupation. When will we wake up and realise that the occupation does not differentiate between us Palestinians? The matter requires us to have a united and single national position, and to rally our efforts in confronting the occupation.

Moreover, Muslims and Christians are being targeted with guns pointing at their chests at every moment. The occupation wants to eradicate our positions, suppress our ideas, destroy all factors of steadfastness and empty the city of its national and political status. From the expulsion of Jerusalemite parliamentarians, to the arrest of Sheikh Raed Salah and the banning of the president of the Palestinian National Christian Coalition, Dimitri Diliani, from entering the Old City of Jerusalem.

This Zionist criminality did not come from nowhere and was not sudden, it is a reflection of the laxity of the official Palestinian positions represented in the PA’s actions, and its failure to play a responsible and effective role in what is happening in Jerusalem. It is true that there are condemning positions and local movements here and there, but they do not fulfil the purpose required nationally. Meanwhile, the PA has maintained meetings and contact with the occupation, supressed popular movements, prevented the resistance from voicing its opinions and restricted its activity in the West Bank, although this would discipline the occupation and allow it to regain its sanity after having lost it.

The matter was also not unrelated to the Arab and Islamic position, which has remained in the formal framework, from conferences, workshops, seminars, meetings and statements – none of which were put into effect. The Arab options are also sufficient to stop the current deterioration and to prevent Israel from continuing its crimes, accompanied by American arrogance and Trump administration’s bias in favour of the occupation. The American administration’s most recent actions motivated the occupation, by moving its embassy to Jerusalem, and recognising Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel.

President Trump has even expressed his pride in his historic position when he recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in his speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), considering it to be one his best accomplishments during his term. This comes despite the warnings that he received from various presidents and kings, fearing the reactions sweeping across the Arab and Islamic world.

These successive events in the city of Jerusalem, and inside Al-Aqsa Mosque, are one of the most important factors causing tension in the Palestinian territories, and are pushing towards redirecting the compass of confrontation. The explosion may occur from the heart of Al-Aqsa Mosque, as the situation is unbearable and Jerusalem is loved by millions, and without it, blood will be shed and lives will be sacrificed. The enemy must not be deceived by the current calm.

The enemy must reconsider its calculations well, as the spark of confrontation and the hurricane of a popular and armed will sweep all areas. Al-Qassam Brigades summed this up in a tweet that threatened the occupation and vowed to make the enemy pay. This spark indicates that the situation has reached a new stage of escalation, the price of which the enemy cannot bear, and will beg the mediators to appease the situation.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Palinfo on 9 December 2019

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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Re: Turkey to host rally for Egyptian prisoners

Re: Turkey to host rally for Egyptian prisoners

A large number of Egyptians and Turkish civil society groups will attend a torchlight march in Istanbul to draw attention to unlawful detentions by the Egyptian regime, reports Anadolu Agency.

The march will start near the landmark Fatih Mosque and end at Sarachane Park.

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the Solidarity Group for Egyptian Prisoners urged people to voice concern over the human rights violations in Egypt, Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, East Turkistan, and Myanmar.

We condemn oppressors all over the world, regardless of their religion, language or race and stand for the freedom of innocent people who are facing oppression,

the group said in a statement.

The group said thousands of innocent people were killed by the Egyptian regime which overthrew the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi – who was ousted in a 2013 military coup and died this June in the middle of a trial.

The number of people, detained in Egypt’s prisons, mainly members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other political opponents, was estimated to be over 65,000, it added.

There are 154 women languishing in prisons across the country, it said.

Many people, especially young men, were sentenced to death by the regime, with about 60 of these executions carried out without families being informed.

The prisoners, it said, were trying to raise awareness on their “unbearable conditions” by going on hunger strikes from time to time.

Prisoners are not allowed to meet with relatives and lawyers, while those who are sick are deprived of receiving medical treatment.

It also added that people from different parts of the world are sending letters to the oppressed people in Egypt’s prisons to show them solidarity, and to show the prison administrators that “the people they are torturing are not alone”.

“We want to be a light of hope for our brothers and sisters in prisons and spread fear to the oppressors,” it said.

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