Israel employs professional web talk-backers

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pzrmeyer2

Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by pzrmeyer2 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:24 am

wonder how many feldgrau members are on the payroll? (I can think of a few)

http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=34520


The Foreign Ministry presents: talkbackers in the service of the State

By: Dora Kishinevski
Calcalist
5 July 2009
http://www.calcalist.co.il/internet/art ... 43,00.html

Translated for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

After they became an inseparable part of the service provided by public-relations companies and advertising agencies, paid Internet talkbackers are being mobilized in the service in the service of the State. The Foreign Ministry is in the process of setting up a team of students and demobilized soldiers who will work around the clock writing pro-Israeli responses on Internet websites all over the world, and on services like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. The Foreign Ministry’s department for the explanation of Israeli policy* is running the project, and it will be an integral part of it. The project is described in the government budget for 2009 as the “Internet fighting team” – a name that was given to it in order to distinguish it from the existing policy-explanation team, among other reasons, so that it can receive a separate budget. Even though the budget’s size has not yet been disclosed to the public, sources in the Foreign Ministry have told Calcalist that in will be about NIS 600 thousand in its first year, and it will be increased in the future. From the primary budget, about NIS 200 thousand will be invested in round-the-clock activity at the micro-blogging website Twitter, which was recently featured in the headlines for the services it provided to demonstrators during the recent disturbances in Iran.
“To all intents and purposes the Internet is a theatre in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we must be active in that theatre, otherwise we will lose,” Elan Shturman, deputy director of the policy-explanation department in the Foreign Ministry, and who is directly responsible for setting up the project, says in an interview with Calcalist. “Our policy-explanation achievements on the Internet today are impressive in comparison to the resources that have been invested so far, but the other side is also investing resources on the Internet. There is an endless array of pro-Palestinian websites, with huge budgets, rich with information and video clips that everyone can download and post on their websites. They are flooding the Internet with content from the Hamas news agency. It is a well-oiled machine. Our objective is to penetrate into the world in which these discussions are taking place, where reports and videos are published – the blogs, the social networks, the news websites of all sizes. We will introduce a pro-Israeli voice into those places. What is now going on in Iran is the proof of the need for such an operational branch,” adds Shturman. “It’s not like a group of friends is going to bring down the government with Twitter messages, but it does help to expand the struggle to vast dimensions.”

The missions: “monitoring” and “fostering discussions”
The Foreign Ministry intends to recruit youths who speak at least one foreign language and who are studying communications, political science or law, or alternatively those whose military background is in units that deal with information analysis. “It is a youthful language”, explains Shturman. “Older people do not know how to write blogs, how to act there, what the accepted norms are. The basic conditions are a high capacity for expression in English – we also have French- and Swedish-speakers – and familiarity with the online milieu. We are looking for people who are already writing blogs and circulating in Facebook”.

Members of the new unit will work at the Ministry (“They will punch a card,” says Shturman) and enjoy the full technical support of Tahila, the government’s ISP, which is responsible for computer infrastructure and Internet services for government departments. “Their missions will be defined along the lines of the government policies that they will be required to defend on the Internet. It could be the situation in Gaza, the situation in the north or whatever is decided. We will determine which international audiences we want to reach through the Internet and the strategy we will use to reach them, and the workers will implement that on in the field. Of course they will not distribute official communiquיs; they will draft the conversations themselves. We will also activate an Internet-monitoring team – people who will follow blogs, the BBC website, the Arabic websites.”

According to Shturman the project will begin with a limited budget, but he has plans to expand the team and its missions: “the new centre will also be able to support Israel as an economic and commercial entity,” he says. “Alternative energy, for example, now interests the American public and Congress much more than the conflict in the Middle East. If through my team I can post in blogs dealing with alternative energy and push the names of Israeli companies there, I will strengthen Israel’s image as a developed state that contributes to the quality of the environment and to humanity, and along with that I may also manage to help an Israeli company get millions of dollars worth of contracts. The economic potential here is great, but for that we will require a large number of people. What is unique about the Internet is the fragmentation into different communities, every community deals with what interests it. To each of those communities you have to introduce material that is relevant to it.”

The inspiration: covert advertising on the Internet

The Foreign Ministry admits that the inspiration comes from none other than the much-reviled field of compensated commercial talkback: employees of companies and public-relations firms who post words of praise on the Internet for those who sent them there – the company that is their employer or their client. The professional responders normally identify themselves as chance readers of the article they are responding to or as “satisfied customers” of the company they are praising.

Will the responders who are hired for this also present themselves as “ordinary net-surfers”?

“Of course,” says Shturman. “Our people will not say: ‘Hello, I am from the policy-explanation department of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and I want to tell you the following.’ Nor will they necessarily identify themselves as Israelis. They will speak as net-surfers and as citizens, and will write responses that will look personal but will be based on a prepared list of messages that the Foreign Ministry developed.”

Test-firing in the Gaza War

According to Shturman, although it is only now that the project is receiving a budget and a special department in the Foreign Ministry, in practice the Ministry has been using its own responders since the last war in Gaza, when the Ministry recruited volunteer talkbackers. “During Operation Cast Lead we appealed to Jewish communities abroad and with their help we recruited a few thousand volunteers, who were joined by Israeli volunteers. We gave them background material and policy-explanation material, and we sent them to represent the Israeli point of view on news websites and in polls on the Internet,” says Shturman. “Our target audience then was the European Left, which was not friendly towards the policy of the government. For that reason we began to get involved in discussions on blogs in England, Spain and Germany, a very hostile environment.”

And how much change have you effected so far?

“It is hard to prove success in this kind of activity, but it is clear that we succeeded in bypassing the European television networks, which are very critical of Israel, and we have created direct dialogues with the public.”

What things have you done there exactly?

“For example, we sent someone to write in the website of a left-wing group in Spain. He wrote ‘it is not exactly as you say.’ Someone at the website replied to him, and we replied again, we gave arguments, pictures. Dialogue like that opens people’s eyes.”

Elon Gilad, a worker at the Foreign Ministry who coordinated the activities of the volunteer talkbackers during the war in Gaza and will coordinate the activities of the professional talkbackers in the new project, says that volunteering for talkback in defence of Israel started spontaneously: “Many times people contacted us and asked how they could help to explain Israeli policy. They mainly do it at times like the Gaza operation. People just asked for information, and afterwards we saw that the information was distributed all over the Internet. The Ministry of Absorption also started a project at that time, and they transferred to us hundreds of volunteers who speak foreign languages and who will help to spread the information. That project too mainly spreads information on the Internet.”

“You can’t win”

While most of the net-surfers were recruited through websites like giyus.org, which was officially activated by a Jewish lobby, in some cases is it was the Foreign Ministry that took the initiative to contact the surfers and asked them to post talkbacks sympathetic to the State and the government [of Israel] on the Internet and to help recruit volunteers. That’s how Michal Carmi, an active blogger and associate general manager at the high-tech placement company Tripletec, was recruited to the online policy-explanation team.

“During Operation Cast Lead the Foreign Ministry wrote to me and other bloggers and asked us to make our opinions known on the international stage as well,” Carmi tells Calcalist. “They sent us pages with ‘taking points’ and a great many video clips. I focussed my energies on Facebook, and here and there I wrote responses on blogs where words like ‘Holocaust’ and ‘murder’ were used in connection with Israel’s Gaza action. I had some very hard conversations there. Several times the Foreign Ministry also recommended that we access specific blogs and get involved in the discussions that were taking place there.”

And does it work? Does it have any effect?

“I am not sure that that strategy was correct. The Ministry did excellent work, they sent us a flood of accurate information, but it focussed on Israeli suffering and the threat of the missiles. But the view of the Europeans is one-dimensional. Israeli suffering does not seem relevant to them compared to Palestinian suffering.”

“You can never win in this struggle. All you can do is be there and express your position,” is how Gilad sums up the effectiveness so far, as well as his expectations of the operation when it begins to receive a government budget.

* “department for the explanation of Israeli policy” is a translation of only two words in the original Hebrew text: “mahleqet ha-hasbara” – literally, “the department of explanation”. Israeli readers require no elaboration. Henceforth in this article, “hasbara” will be translated as “policy-explanation”. It may also be translated as “public diplomacy” or “propaganda” – trans.

Paddy Keating

Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by Paddy Keating » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:19 am

I'm surprised that this is news to anyone. I can think of quite a few contenders on the various forums frequented by our happy 'community'. I can even think of an entire forum rumoured to be a "honeytrap" operation for collecting and collating intel on suspected 'extremists'.

PK

pzrmeyer2

Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by pzrmeyer2 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:46 am

Actually Paddy, I should specify former members, as there isnt much activity of any kind here. I've walked through ICU wards and old graveyards with more lifesigns than this place of late....

I miss the "good old days" of intellectual battle... I guess the old German war graffitti is apt: Enjoy the War , The Peace will be terrible"

John P. Moore
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Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by John P. Moore » Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:36 pm

I have to agree with Erik's assessment of the level of activity on this site, especially in the research forums. Any ideas as to how things can be improved without resorting to the bashing that went on in the past?

John

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Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by TimoWr » Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:02 pm

Well, actually a topic like this is exactly why I hardly ever visit this forum. The Feldgrau forum is miles away from being the helpful research tool it used to be. IF there are some interesting topics I cannot find them under the sh*tload of crap posted about how the Jews do this and why the Jews control that and the ongoing insinuations from the rightwing forum members that other forum visitors work for the Jews/Israel/ADL, etc., etc., etc. I guess it is only natural that a forum about the armed forces of the Third Reich attracts a very high percentage of antisemites, closet nazi's and SS fanboys but it does not do this or any forum any good. But go ahead, start calling me a lefty or whatever beaten to dead labels you can think of. I'm out of here again.

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Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by John P. Moore » Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:16 pm

I also agree completely with Timo's comments. This is suppossed to be a research site and I seldom even look at the Off-Topic and Soldatenheim forums as I regard them as irrelevant. People seem to waste a lot of energy here that could be used to post something worthwhile on the research forums. If it was up to me, I would eliminate both forums.

John

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John W. Howard
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Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by John W. Howard » Thu Aug 06, 2009 1:32 pm

I concur with John and Timo. Paddy and Erik: you are two of our smartest guys on Feldgrau with great interest and knowledge in the area we are supposed to be studying; why waste time posting something most of us are aware of and choose to ignore??
John W. Howard

Paddy Keating

Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by Paddy Keating » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:50 pm

I used to post useful information here and elsewhere and not only did such threads die on the vine - because so few of the members are capable of intellectual discourse - but whole tracts of what I posted here and elsewhere were hijacked by plagiarists of one kind or another, finding its way into books and onto Wikipedia etc etc... The last clown I helped here went straight to another website and posted my PM response as if it were his research.

I suppose I also got a bit tired of being described as a neo-nazi by people like Timo Worst (Moderator's Correction), simply because I have always sought to look beyond the 'official line' when addressing questions like the Third Reich era. It's a classic gagging device used by people or groups seeking to silence the expression of any views or, more importantly, the posing of questions that tend to make such factions and their various fellow travellers uncomfortable.

And then there is the whole question, from a personal viewpoint, of the flak I got from certain people over the MCF thing and the abortive attempt by another website to repeat the exercise. In the end, I saved a lot collectors a lot of money and heartache, which is why I am welcome on the more serious websites, populated as they are by thinkers rather than dribblers.

I also tried to create a place for the admittedly small number of veterans who have been active on these forums, a place where they might be free to respond to young people sincerely seeking to expand their knowledge of the period in question at an everyday level without having to run the gauntlet of the small but highly vocal band of self-appointed moral guardians who ruled the roost here for so long and who still dominate another major forum.

It is true that this forum is rather inactive. It all goes to prove that 'controversy' and 'heated discussion' attracts contributors, some of whom are worth reading, and that stern nannying and censorship rips the heart out of discussion forums, resulting in death. Feldgrau is not quite flatlining but its vital signs have been looking rather feeble for a long time.

Speaking, again, for myself, I am also aware of some of utter tripe written about me by some of the management here and it is only natural that I should not bother contributing to the same degree as in the past. I mean...look at this thread: I'm not angry with Timo Worst (Moderator's Correction) because that would be like being angry with a dog for barking but when management types validate his statements, suggesting that I am anti-semitic, then there is something wrong, no?

PK

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Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by phylo_roadking » Thu Aug 13, 2009 4:24 pm

and that stern nannying and censorship rips the heart out of discussion forums, resulting in death. Feldgrau is not quite flatlining but its vital signs have been looking rather feeble for a long time.
May I suggest looking at the top of the pages?
the online message forum for the Feldgrau.com research community
Noone is here for discussion for it's OWN sake - or shouldn't be. It's a research forum, any social purpose comes a very pale second place. People come here for research purposes - they ask questions hoping for answers. Sometimes they get an answer sharpish...sometimes the whole process generates discussion. But along the way providing answers - just not necessarily the ones wanted or expected!

Sometimes they ask for opinions - and they get it in spades.

But pointless discussion for its OWN sake? DOES pointless discussion have value? :shock:
"Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." - Malcolm Reynolds

John P. Moore
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Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by John P. Moore » Thu Aug 13, 2009 5:46 pm

Phylo - Thanks for setting things straight here. There are other sites better suited for people who want to bait and provoke one another.

Prosper - I have always valued your posts on the research forums and I am sure that is the case with other members here. I would encourage you to go back to doing more of that. As I have said before, Timo Worst and I put our differences behind us years ago and we now enjoy a positive exchange of information. You should do that too with him. Timo adds a lot of value to this forum.

John

Paddy Keating

Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by Paddy Keating » Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:11 am

Phylo,

You and I have had our ups and troughs :D, but I would not like you to think that I was having a dig here. I think you know full well that if I am going to take a pop at you, there'll be no equivocation about it. You can point at statistics until the moon turns blue but I tune in here every couple of days and I see very little movement, compared to the past.

John,

My dart or darts at Timo here had nothing to do with that old story. In fact, I regret having given him such a hard time over it. It was not my place to do so and I was out of order at the time. I believe that I already expressed this sentiment but I suppose that my "fan club" edited it out in their desire to see me as truly diabolical. LOL! However, Timo should try not to propose that everyone who expresses views or proposes alternative viewpoints in order to stimulate or provoke discussion is some kind of rabid right wing extremist. This kind of hyperbole is boring.

Let's be clear here: I don't like neo-zionists or zionazis - having been denounced by these bastards on prime time TV and radio - but I am very against anti-semitism, as my fellow 'victim' of these self-appointed 'nazi hunters', Erik, could tell you. So could many others, but those of you who are either in the service in some way of these agitators or so cowed by them that you will submit to this kind of bullying are not open to honest discussion. When I was targeted after the Riefenstahl interview, my Jewish employers offered me their lawyers. When I had trouble after the Vergès film, many Jewish friends offered support.

I suppose that others might have some pat reply to this - like Alan Dershowitz's condemnation of Noam Chomsky as "a self-hating Jew" - but I have no need to defend myself against people with closed minds. Nor do I need to prove my intellectual or educational mettle to you. I took on one of your 'published authors' recently over an issue about which I and my mates - here in France - know vastly more than the American in question and some mods here warned me that I was risking banishment.

Hey! Big deal! But I have published four novels, six history books and a number of other works focusing on topics as diverse as The Seven Years War, WW1 and WW2 and none of it was 'vanity publishing'. I'm sitting here, half-cut, in a private hotel at 3 am Bahamas time, with enough downtime to play with my 'fan club' here. I'd like to be on good terms with y'all but some of you are two-faced backstabbers and others are latterday Bolsheviks, so excuse me if I refrain from getting cosy with you.

However, there are those of you who are upstanding chaps and I salute you.

PK

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Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by phylo_roadking » Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:25 am

I would not like you to think that I was having a dig here. I think you know full well that if I am going to take a pop at you, there'll be no equivocation about it. You can point at statistics until the moon turns blue but I tune in here every couple of days and I see very little movement, compared to the past.
Just a bald statement of fact; if you take the semi-literate schoolchildren - "Hey the Germans were GREAT! They were the greatest cos they had the coolest uniforms!", the Holocaust and Genocide Deniers, the unreconstructed communists, and the flying saucer nuts out of the equation - we do just as much business as AHF. They have a home there...some would say "sadly"...and we have no need of them here.

Can WE help it if there are so many knowledeable people here that when someone comes here and asks a question....they get a one-post answer that provides them with everything they wanted??? :D
"Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." - Malcolm Reynolds

Paddy Keating

Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by Paddy Keating » Fri Aug 14, 2009 7:29 am

Fair point.

:D

PK

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sebastian
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Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by sebastian » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:59 am

phylo_roadking wrote:
I would not like you to think that I was having a dig here. I think you know full well that if I am going to take a pop at you, there'll be no equivocation about it. You can point at statistics until the moon turns blue but I tune in here every couple of days and I see very little movement, compared to the past.
Just a bald statement of fact; if you take the semi-literate schoolchildren - "Hey the Germans were GREAT! They were the greatest cos they had the coolest uniforms!", the Holocaust and Genocide Deniers, the unreconstructed communists, and the flying saucer nuts out of the equation - we do just as much business as AHF. They have a home there...some would say "sadly"...and we have no need of them here.

Can WE help it if there are so many knowledeable people here that when someone comes here and asks a question....they get a one-post answer that provides them with everything they wanted??? :D

amen to that :wink:
united we stand,divided we fall

pzrmeyer2

Re: Israel employs professional web talk-backers

Post by pzrmeyer2 » Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:31 am

I stand by the original post and supporting opinions. We all come here for different reasons. Some confine themselves to strictly German military research and are very informtive and helpful--amen to them. Others post reviews on books of interest. Some folks here are interested in sharing “off topic” issues, as evidenced by posts on such diverse topics as favorite tv commercials, what we’re listening to, “the plight of Greek Macedonia”, and even how some of our more corpulent members try to stay in shape, so a topic on military PSYOPS shouldn’t be too out of place. I mean, isn’t a fact based article (written by an Israeli and appearing on an Israeli site) posted in the appropriate forum about a modern military PSYOPS operation involving the internet and forums like this one conducted by an allegedly democratic government against civilians worth discussing?. So why such rabid hostility from a self described “former member”? unless?

Unless perhaps it hits a bit close to home for some of our fact-sensitive members, especially those who fantasize about being some sort of latter day nazi hunters, spending countless hours trolling websites for “SS fanboys” and chasing elderly veterans around and betraying the trust these old men give for perhaps more nefarious purposes other than historical research?

Its been recently revealed that in Canada, several so called “neo nazi” and “right wing” organizations were actually front groups of so called “human rights” organizations designed to sniff out and report on alleged “haters”. These front groups were funded by certain folks with religious and political ties to a nation other than Canada. Is it really that much of a stretch, then, to insinuate that some forum members here could be paid trolls? Given the history of Semitic PSYOPS, from the NKVD to Hollywood to the USS Liberty cover-up to the Iraq War to Gaza I think it is not unreasonable. So what to make of Timo’s frothing-at-the-mouth response? As everyone’s favorite ex commie, Whittaker Chambers once said “People don’t get upset when you tell lies about them, they get upset when you tell the truth”. So its telling to me that he chose this topic to launch into another ad-hominum tirade coupled with demands to shut down forums and stifle facts he doesn’t like. If he’s so concerned about the forums integrity as a research platform, then why no previous appearances condemning the off topic threads mentioned above? Or the one some time ago when a site moderator here expressed admiration and support for the actions of Baader-Meinhof terrorists? (Im sure he’s seen all that, since his rapid response to my post indicates he still trolls the site regularly, even though his only meaningful contributions happened years ago. (Since the acknowledged great stuff about Gustav Knittel, what else exactly?) Things that make you go hmmmm….

On another note, regarding traffic here, I think its telling that the majority of responses in this thread—hell allmost all threads lately—come from moderators, a sure sign that far, far fewer members participate any longer. I don’t believe as Phylo would have that this is because their one-and-done questions are answered and they move on, or do I think it is because they are turned off by spirited debate. Perhaps the constant threat of banishment has turned away some controversial or colorful members? Perish the thought. Some might favor the current calmer, gentler atmosphere here, but then, there really isnt anyone left to ban is there?

Finally, to John moore’s question about how to resuscitate the forum, how about re-inviting a few dozen “former members” from all sides and interests back to the fold and see what happens? It certainly should restore some vitality, if any of them are still interested.

And to John W Howard—Ive always respected your neutral tone as a moderator and your thoughtful contributions. You have helpfully responded to me on several occasions and Im grateful. But when you say you know the facts and choose to ignore them, then you’ve lost the plot. I think it’s a moral obligation to share the facts about those who start wars that kill thousands or run ponzi schemes that injure thousands more or use their money and influence to eliminate and criminalize free speech and ideas. As Thomas Jefferson said “there is not a truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the whole world”. Evidently, old Tom is in the minority around here.

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