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How Forums Are Being Taken Over By Pro-Arab Groups, Who Flood The Forums With Hate Propaganda
Ha'aretz ^ | June, 5, 2002 | Mary Sagi-Maydan

Posted on 06/05/2002 3:36:46 AM PDT by the_second_moon

PALO ALTO – When he discovered anti-Israeli propaganda in an Internet site devoted to baking bread, Doron Gal was dumfounded. It would seem that Islamic and anti-Israeli forces discovered the world wide web long before Israelis did, and they are running a well-oiled machine to create public opinion in cyberspace. For such purposes, a site on making cookies is just as good as a political vehicle.

Asked why such groups infiltrate non-political sites, Gal, a doctor in geophysics and a co-founder of the startup DigiGroups, explains that like movie stars – bad publicity is better than no publicity at all. Even if other participants in the forum ask them to change the subject, it takes time until their claims drop to the bottom of the screen. Meanwhile, people see them and take in the message.

"They have set criteria by which to choose sites," Gal says: sites that can boast heavy surfer traffic, or that are popular with younger people, because the young tend to be more radical. And, of course, sites devoted to political debate.

Moreover, they have clever ways to promote their agenda. For instance, the writer could claim that he can’t concentrate on baking bread because his uncle in Bethlehem was just killed by Israelis. That attracts attention.

Only after Gal had visited several sites over several days did he cotton on. It can't be that every time somebody starts to break the eggs into his bread dough in Palestine, his uncle gets killed. Something methodical was going on. The following sentence, after mentioning the uncle's demise, would take a more militant tone, for instance a description of how Israelis murder babies and sell their organs.

The hate-drenched lies appear in thousands of sites. Googling for "intifada" leads to some 50 pro-Palestinian sites, and barely two or three pro-Israeli ones. That is because Google's technology leads to the most popular sites. Popularity is measured, in part, by the number of links to the site on Internet. The Palestinian sites link to one another, and Google identifies them as outstandingly popular.

Methodology of disseminating hate

The Islamicist extremists are cunning in their exploitation of the electronic media, , Gal admits. One method is for several activists to log on to a forum or chat room together, and discourse between them. One raises the claim about Israelis selling body parts of murdered Palestinians. When the argument turns tense, another comes in ostensibly holding more moderate views – making the other chatters feel he is objective.

"It is very hard for a private individual to handle this kind of propaganda on the Internet," Gal says. If the situation is to be amended, it has to be handled in an organized fashion.

"When I realized how serious the situation is, given my experience in Internet communities (through his startup DigiGroups), I decided I want to undertake the mission. I don't see myself as a propagandist and don't see it as a career. But I know what has to be done and how to return war."

Gal, 37, is at a good time in his life to undertake the job. His startup was sold in a stock swap. Given the tough market he'd be better off looking for a new job right away, but as an Israeli who cares – he feels compelled to tackle this mission first.

Doron Gal founded digiGroups in 1999 together with Uri Sarid and Eran Liron. The company created a web-based platform for building business communities. Gal says he was less attracted by the hope of making millions, and more by the opportunity to be at the fore-front of technological advance, and to create something big of use to people. Back then, he says wryly, naivete was okay. The three ex-academicians thought they were joining a brand new world –mistakenly, of course.

Anyway, they managed to raise $14 million for their startup, settled for unusually low salaries (for that time) and settled down to work very, very hard. At its peak the company boasted 40 employees, but it targeted vertical marketplaces, which turned out to be a bad move. As its market dried up, the company started to seek new angles, Gal tells.

"It isn't easy to take a glove and find it a new hand," he says. The company adapted its product to big enterprises. But the sector, and Internet, were at a nadir. The venture capital funds figured it would take ages to return their investment, and when digiGroups got a takeover offer – they pushed, and it bit. Despite prior understandings, the buyer, Noosh, cut the staff in half and Gal too found himself on the sidewalk, holding a block of Noosh shares, living in an expensive neighborhood with his wife Michal and two kids, and with no salary.

Seduced by Internet propaganda

It may not have gone public, but digiGroups brought Doron Gal to the world of Internet communities.

"I noticed that several big forums in which hundreds of thousands of people participate are being taken over by anti-Israeli and pro-Arab groups, who flood the forums with hate propaganda," Gal says. "If you consider that in the U.S. alone, 134 million people are linked to Internet, and half of them actively participate in all kinds of groups, you see that the impact of such propaganda can be enormous."

"The deeper I probed, the graver the things I uncovered," he continues. "A typical story might run like this.

'Here's proof there never were gas chambers (in the Holocaust – the writer links to several sites). 'It's a bunch of Jewish lies to divert attention from their massacres of Palestinians.' (More links.) 'The Jews aren't strategic allies. All the States needs is oil, but it supports the Jews because they control Congress and the media. (More links to prove his case.)

"I sat down to reply at length, to refute his case," Gal says. "I showed that the links were misleading. In retrospect, I realize I was amateurish. When you encounter such claims for the first time, it takes ages to prove they're fatuous. Meanwhile tons of people have seem them and the debate has changed subject. The key is that the answer has to come fast.

"The more experience I gained, the more I understood the need for fast, catchy answers. It isn't just a war over opinions, it's a propaganda war. Sometimes the answer needs to be clear and informative, sometimes just a disparaging comment like 'Don't you get tired of writing that crap? Go fly a plane into a skyscraper.'

"It's a war, and we're coming to it too little, too late. The assumption is that they have hundreds of thousands of activists and about 10 to 20 times as many inactive supporters, meaning, millions. They are well organized, they have access to easy, convenient-to-use information, and they are trying to delegitimize Israel by rewriting the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Results in half a year

"The war isn't lost," Doron Gal declares. There are pro-Israeli groups that produce solid information, but their efforts are too scattered and purely pathetic compared with the smooth operation of the anti-Israeli groups.

DigiGroups taught Gal the power of Internet communities, in which leaders wield tremendous clout. "I believe we can round up several hundred volunteers, including Israelis with good command of English. Our purpose is to support our activists, and organize material and technology allowing efficient use of Internet for them." The idea would be to insert replies within seconds to hate-propaganda on websites.

Gal believes that organizing and training people will take a few months. Results should become evident within half a year. He needs $580,000 to make it happen, a fraction of the cost of big ad campaigns.

"As a family man and father to two children, I should have started looking for a job right away," he admits. "My wife Michal hates uncertainty." But a cause is a cause and Gal is confident the money for the anti-anti-Israel campaign can be found, enabling him to devote all his attention to the project.

And if it can't? He'll have to take a day job, and devote his evenings, weekends and holidays to the cause. "It may not be efficient," he realizes, "but I'd rather fight the war with one hand tied behind my back, than not fight at all."

TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: arabs; forums; hate; israel; propaganda
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1 posted on 06/05/2002 3:36:47 AM PDT by the_second_moon
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To: the_second_moon
Doron Gal gets it, why can't others see it too?
At times it is blatant propaganda. Other times it is more subtle. FR is evidence of that. Plenty of propaganda, in many forms, around here.
Plenty of FReepers expose it for what it is too.
2 posted on 06/05/2002 4:20:03 AM PDT by philman_36
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To: the_second_moon
The propaganda game has 2 faces. The Zionists are quite busy bashing the Islamists as evidenced in this article. The difference between the two sides lies in the mindless support that the Zionists receive. It is so un-PC to criticize Israel.
3 posted on 06/05/2002 4:34:02 AM PDT by Lion Den Dan
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To: the_second_moon
I submit, for example, my latest pet peeve..."refugee camp".
Numerous aticles calling Palestinian towns and cities "refugee camps".
refugee: one that flees; especially : a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution

Flee Pallies! Flee! I'm sure the Israelis wouldn't mind if you actually did.

In light of that I've personally decided to start calling those towns and cities "tramp camps", since the Pallies want to tramp on the Israelis and drive them into the sea.
tramp: to tread on forcibly and repeatedly
I didn't want to call them squatter camps or hobo camps as it denigrates hobos and squatters.

Have I shown my bias? Oops!

4 posted on 06/05/2002 4:36:13 AM PDT by philman_36
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To: Lion Den Dan
The difference between the two sides lies in the mindless support that the Zionists receive.
I've got two words for you...refugee camp!
snicker...mindless support...snicker
5 posted on 06/05/2002 4:40:23 AM PDT by philman_36
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To: Lion Den Dan
Oh yeah. I am opposed to terrorists and suicide/homocide bomber who kill innocents, like, say on September 11th, 2001. Sorry, but fundy islamics get zero support from me. Call it mindless if you want, because it takes me about 1 second to be opposed to them, without even thinking about Israeli rights or wrongs.

Kill all the islamic terrorists first. Then we can consider Isreal. Islamic terrorists are not just after Jews, but Christians and Americans, too--they've said so at every opportunity. As a Christian and an American, fundy islamists made ME an enemy.

6 posted on 06/05/2002 4:57:19 AM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: Lion Den Dan
Don't you have a suicide bombing appointment?
7 posted on 06/05/2002 5:00:13 AM PDT by Poohbah
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To: Lion Den Dan
Mindless support of Zionists? That's about as mindless a reply as any I've ever seen! I counted two "zionists" and only one Isreal. You left out the part about the baby-killers.
8 posted on 06/05/2002 5:00:25 AM PDT by jimtorr
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To: Lion Den Dan
Is Lion Den Dan an intentional illustration of the points in the article?
9 posted on 06/05/2002 5:02:04 AM PDT by arthurus
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To: jimtorr
What's going on here? Did Lion Den Dan volunteer to give us practice at snappy comebacks, or something?
10 posted on 06/05/2002 5:02:49 AM PDT by jimtorr
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To: the_second_moon
This article should be reposted periodically, perhaps once a day.
11 posted on 06/05/2002 5:04:23 AM PDT by arthurus
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To: jimtorr
Part of the Pali style. Hit and run, never hang around to shoot it out.
12 posted on 06/05/2002 5:11:03 AM PDT by Poohbah
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To: arthurus; jimtorr;poohbah;Alas Babylon;philman_36
Thank you folks. You have just illustrated my point with your venom.
13 posted on 06/05/2002 5:12:59 AM PDT by Lion Den Dan
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To: Lion Den Dan
Thank you. You just proved the point of this article with your latest burst of verbal flatulence.
14 posted on 06/05/2002 5:14:13 AM PDT by Poohbah
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To: philman_36
They fled once at the behest of their "leadership"?, now they are back. Which hardly supports the "refugee" status, but tramp will do.
15 posted on 06/05/2002 5:15:07 AM PDT by wita
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To: Lion Den Dan
Oh, venom? Are you serious? I am opposed to anyone who tries to kill me and my countrymen. Fundy islamics killed over 3,000 of them on September 11th. The biggest attack on America since Pearl Harbor, you know, the day that will live in infamy. No one will forget that day. That was the day fundy islamics VENOMOUSLY attacked us. Killing them is justified and self defense. Case closed.

Take YOUR venom elsewhere!

16 posted on 06/05/2002 5:19:14 AM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: Alas Babylon!
Don't forget Hindus and secularists:

Top Saudi imam sees conspiracy

LONDON - Saudi Arabia's top Muslim cleric has called on the Islamic world to unite against a worldwide conspiracy of Hindus, Christians, Jews and secularists threatening Islamic moral values.

I guess Christians and Jews weren't enough of an enemy for this guy.

17 posted on 06/05/2002 5:22:08 AM PDT by B Knotts
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To: Lion Den Dan
I ain't even warmed up!
18 posted on 06/05/2002 5:27:04 AM PDT by philman_36
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To: B Knotts
Barney, up to 9/11 I was ambivelent about the Palistine/Israel conflict. Fundy Islam made me an enemy on that day. Since then, FReepers have pointed out that almost every ARMED/TERRORIST CONFLICT in the world involves fundy islamics. IMO, they are as bad as German Nazi's or Soviet Communists. They NEED a smackdown now, before they kill more. No sympathy from me. When a venomous (to use LionDenDan's phrase) snake is under you bed, you don't try to understand it or talk to it. You kill it before it kills you.
19 posted on 06/05/2002 5:32:26 AM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: Lion Den Dan
BTW, you're doing a FINE job of convincing me that any world without Islam is a better place than the present world.
20 posted on 06/05/2002 5:33:03 AM PDT by Poohbah
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