Opinion: Israeli Spies Are Flooding Facebook And Twitter In Global War Against BDS

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza

A troll army of thousands of former Israeli spies is crawling on social media sites Twitter and Facebook in “a new kind of war” to fight Palestinian-led rights movement Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS).

The BDS movement has been a thorn in the side of Israel, and to some extent, the Arab world, for more than 14 years, working to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. It is seen by Israel and its supporters as “the leper among liberals and progressives”.

Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs admitted to working with secret front groups, partly funded by the government, to fight BDS via social media sites and comment sections of articles published online.

One of the spy groups was awarded as much as $36 million by the Israeli government last year, according to a cabinet decision. It was expected to match the amount with philanthropic giving from pro-Israel donors and organizations.

“What we know is that there are tens of millions of dollars allocated for this project,” said Akiva Eldar, a senior columnist for Al-Monitor, in Al Jazeera.

Yarden Ben Yosef, head of online troll army group Act.IL, admitted on different occasions that his company worked closely with the Israeli government and its staff, largely consisting of former spies.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 49: Jamilah Lemieux

Part 1: Jamarlin talks to digital media executive, activist and author Jamilah Lemieux. They discuss her article, “The Power And Fragility Of Working In Black Media” in the Columbia Journalism Review and Lamont Hill being fired by CNN for his comments on Palestine. They also discuss whether Michelle Obama’s words on Rev. Jeremiah Wright in her book “Becoming” were a false equivalence.

In a journal aimed at Israeli diplomats, Ben Yosef lamented that “the Palestinian narrative prevailed in world media over the Israeli one,” and advocated for “inserting ourselves” into online discussions using sophisticated “monitoring software”.

“Controlling the online media discussion became our top priority,” he said in the journal. However, he denied that there was any remuneration from the government towards these efforts.