Friday, January 15, 2016

Israel's volunteer thought-police

Dahlia Scheindlin,

image (not from article) from

Right-wing activists have been infiltrating human rights and anti-occupation organizations. The spies did do serious damage, but to a much bigger target than they intended: Israeli society.

Two weeks ago I wrote about a right-wing group trying to recruit people to a “top secret” mission: spying on left-wing organizations in Israel. The outfit was largely a one-man show. I thought it was a colorful but probably not very serious example of the latest “hasbara” antics – propaganda or public diplomacy – gone too far. 
I was naïve. Two weeks later, we learned that right-wing impostors have been infiltrating, befriending and filming  left-wing organizations for several years. Israel’s vaunted investigative news program “Uvda” aired a damning story about far left-wing activist Ezra Nawi based on the documentation of such self-anointed spies. Breaking the Silence, the ex-soldiers’ testimonial organization, found another mole who had burrowed into its inner circle as well. The daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot ran a lengthy spread revealing (rather banal) details of a meeting the group held with former director-general of the Foreign Ministry and retired ambassador Alon Liel.
Amir Beit Arieh, the young man who had spied on Breaking the Silence, told Channel 2 this week that the goal was to trap those on the far left “who will stop at nothing,” he says, to end to the occupation.
So infiltration is no longer a threat but a reality.  ... 
I have written before that hasbara is dangerous, not so much because of right-wing positions on Israel, but because in its name people are trained to think in constrained, persuasion-oriented, message-box mentalities that cannot be limited to the topic of Israel only. ... 

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