I’ve come into possession of a series of tweets from 2010 and shared among Aussie Dave, the Jewish Internet Task Force’s (JIDF) David Appletree (the nom de guerre of David Brotsky) and other members of the hasbara jihad brigade. They document a coordinated project to forge Facebook accounts and identities in order to amplify their pro-Israel efforts among the social networking community. Among the activities in which they’ve engaged, more recently are the creation of the “David Loeb” Facebook profile which Aussie Dave used as a hoax identity. Aussie Dave also reveals that he’s used a fake ID in order to infiltrate this pro-Palestinian Facebook group. Once accepted, he posts incendiary pro-terror comments seeking to bait other members into escalating the conversation. Such provocations can then be used by the hasbara activists to discredit the cause and general and get groups taken down.
This is precisely the sort of manipulation of online discourse which poisons the well and degrades the value of Facebook and similar sites. It’s why it’s important to police their activity and bring it to Facebook’s attention and to insist that Facebook better police its own site and pages. Of course, these activities violate the site’s Terms of Service and one tweet in particular finds Aussie Dave saying this explicitly. In another tweet, the latter remonstrates with the JIDF major domo for “outing” one of his fake IDs, “Dave Israel,” and endangering his entire web of fake accounts.
I would urge groups administered by Palestinian or peace activists to maintain vigilance for this sort of behavior and to insist that individuals who appear to be provocateurs provide evidence of their bona fides. I’m sure many are already doing this. But this new evidence shows the need for constant vigilance.
This also indicates the absolute bankruptcy of the hasbara project. Instead of engaging in substantive activity dealing with real issues and political debate, these knuckleheads spends countless hours engaged in subterfuge and deception seeking to sabotage the “enemy” rather than advancing anything constructive or of real value on behalf of Israel. What does it say about the hasbara apparatus as a whole and the entire pro-Israel movement that it would countenance such lying and cheating. Is a cause worth anything if its worst adherents can justify such behavior.
I should make clear that there is nothing wrong with supporting Israel in whatever fashion one chooses as long as one does so transparently, candidly and forthrightly. What Aussie Dave and JIDF do should be treif for anyone who supports Israel.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.