נסיון ההסתרה נכשל: “אבו עלי אקספרס” הוא גלעד כהן
די מגוחך שמישהו מנסה להסתיר את שמו של הבלוגר (היהודי) אבו עלי אקספרס. שמו גלעד כהן.
— Yossi Melman (@yossi_melman) August 19, 2021
UPDATE: The 7th Eye reveals that the identity of Abu Ali, which I’ve exposed here is under military censorship. Clearly, it’s not protecting Israeli national security. But rather suppressing the black eye that the army deserves for employing psy-ops to hoodwink Israelis. Exposing GIlad Cohen and publishing his name here offers a strong argument for the Israeli press to either force the end of the censorship of this story, or else force the army to admit its own lies and subterfuge.
One way to help in this effort is by posting links to this post in your social media accounts and alerting friends to it. The wider it circulates the harder it will be to suppress this ugly truth.
With the IDF facing an ICC war crimes investigation and its snipers murdering and maiming thousands of Gazans during the Great March of Return, two years ago a senior IDF commander decided he needed an attack dog to go after his enemies in the Israeli media; and drum up favorable coverage in an otherwise dismal news cycle. He hired a PR shill (i.e. “consultant”) to create a social media psy ops project. This former junior officer in COGAT, the army’s unit which coordinates with the PA in the West Bank, was hired by then-Southern Command chief, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, to create an anonymous Telegram group, with the terribly unwoke name, the Abu Ali Express:
The channel publishes exclusive stories, videos and pictures bearing the label “Abu Ali Express,” and many reporters get information from it and cite it. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit sometimes refers journalists seeking information on events in Gaza to this channel, while insisting that the articles don’t come from any military source.
Abu Ali hates the news media and routinely lambastes them for their the slightest criticism they offer of the army. Other reporters are routinely smeared as lap dogs of Hamas and traitors. In the overheated Israeli political environment in which every critic of the state is a leftist traitor, this is incitement to violence. In the past, it has led to political murder at the highest level.
He even went to the extreme of attacking one of Israel’s leading army reporters, who claimed Hamas had posted a picture with IDF Maj. Gen. and Southern Command chief, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano. While doing so may satisfy Abu Ali’s hatred of the press, it could blow up in his face since the IDF relies of the media to put the army’s best face before the Israeli public. Insulting and inciting against reporters actually poisons the relationship.
Ironically, some of these same reporters are happy to lap up Abu Ali’s propaganda and publish it as truth. It reminds me of an abused woman beaten by her boy friend who apologizes to him after the beating, makes him dinner and does his laundry.
The army’s psy ops shill called his corner of the social media universe, Abu Ali Express. And its been a raving success with 100,000 followers and millions of daily views. He gives readers the false impression that he’s relaying to them fresh news of the Arab world which he’s compiled from his own set of secret, well-placed sources in the region. Amos Harel writes with slight irony in Haaretz that “somehow [his content] always seems to align with the propaganda interests of the IDF.” For an example of the credulousness with which his “reporting” is greeted in pro-Israel circles, read this. In truth, he has only once source. And that source has nothing to do with the Arab world. It’s the IDF itself.
Haaretz exposed the charade a few days ago. But either the military censor has prohibited reporting the story (apparently exposing secret PR deals damages national security) or the dude got a lawyer to secure a gag order prohibiting exposing his identity. However, Yossi Melman apparently (and thankfully) didn’t get the memo and tweeted (see above) the name of the bearer of IDF secrets. Melman is a brave soul to go directly against the censor. What surprises me is that the censor hasn’t demanded that he remove the tweet.
Let’s give Abu Ali the 20 minutes of “fame” he deserves. He is Gilad Cohen. And boy, does he have a sweet deal. Not only does he get juicy scoops straight from the IDF horse’s mouth which he diligently passes on to his readers, he runs the Telegram channel as an independent commercial enterprise. Given its heavy traffic, it can earn considerable income, which would be all his.
The army offers a typically lame excuse for his hiring:
The IDF has employed G. [Gilad Cohen] as a consultant to Southern Command for around two years, in light of his unique expertise in various fields vital to the command’s activities in the Gaza sector, including his deep knowledge of Palestinian culture, the language and Gaza’s social media networks.
Which of course is nonsense: Cohen is a creature of the IDF. He would have nothing to report without the news they give him. Their claim that they don’t do so is lame and unbelievable, since they themselves are paying him to do what he does.
Usually, the IDF lies about its failures in operations attacking Palestinian targets. But it’s rarely been caught in such a bald-faced bit of media manipulation that involves lies and deception directed at Israelis themselves. This is a new phenomenon that indicates just how desperate the military is to change the dismal narrative, and go on the offensive against Israel’s own media.
Abu Ali’s venture is reminiscent of an Israeli magazine, Rimon, secretly funded by the Shin Bet in the 1950s to compete with the highly successful HaOlam HaZeh. The latter routinely published damaging reports on public figures, including military-intellignece officials, along with pictures of scantily clad women. The combination was immensely appealing to the Israeli public. The security apparatus was jealous of the publication’s success and annoyed that it continually poked its agents in the eye. So it created Rimon, a glossy color magazine which it secretly funded. The project ended unceremoniously after 18 months. It only reinforced the independence and credibility of its erstwhile target, HaOlam HaZeh.
The Abu Ali Express will similarly embarrass the army and expose it to yet another scandal of its own making.
The IDF is not alone in mounting such bogus psy ops projects. The US military paid Iraqi media outlets to publish glowing reports of its operations there. The Pentagon paid a UK PR firm $540-million to produce fake Al Qaeda videos. In the 1950s and 60s, the CIA secretly used 400 journalists to gather intelligence on its behalf. Apparently, armies the world over can’t afford to have ethics or moral standards. But average citizens can, and they can raise holy hell at such meshugas. That keeps the military miscreants in check.
The phrase “Abu Ali” is a linguistic borrowing from Arabic, where it’s come to mean essentially someone who is a fraud. So in that sense, Cohen’s choice of names for his enterprise perfectly illustrates who and what he is.
Further, there is a tradition among pro-Israel shills to adopt Arabic names and assume the false identity of Arabs. Commenters here have done it scores of times. Though different individuals may do this for different reasons, it’s part of a Arabophobic impulse to damage one’s enemy by assuming his identity. It’s a particularly nasty bit of psychological manipulation. First you steal Palestinian land, then you appropriate their identity as well. I’ve never seen a Palestinian or any Arab attempt to assume a false Israeli identity. That tells you something.