The Guardian “asks”, who’s controlling the internet? The answer? Israel.

There’s something about the video produced by Jon Ronson – Esc and Ctrl: Jon Ronson’s stories about people trying to control the internet’ – which is hauntingly familiar.

When you consider the question of “who’s controlling the internet?”, what would normally come to mind, it would seem, are totalitarian nations like North Korea, China, Iran, and Syria  – states who routinely block web sites critical of their regime.

Yet, while the protagonists in this video introduction into media control and manipulation are decidedly illiberal groups like Electronic Intifada and the Free Gaza Movement, the villain is – yes – Israel.

The video opens with selected clips from a 3-minute YouTube video showing a man calling himself Marc Pax claiming he was denied permission by the organisers to join the Free Gaza flotilla because the participation of a gay activist would not “serve the interests” of the flotilla movement.

Pax is then seen criticizing the groups participating in the flotilla for having close ties to Hamas, a group which denies basic human rights to Gaza residents.

Though the clip was indeed widely distributed via links on a number of Israeli government websites, it was later revealed that the clip was staged and Marc Pax was soon identified as Omer Gershon, an Israeli actor involved in marketing.

An intern working in the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem had posted the clip on Twitter, and government websites put up links to the clip.

While the links were removed after the hoax was revealed, with apologies from Israeli officials, is there really any doubt that the premise of the video – that Hamas, and many activists supporting the Islamist regime in Gaza, are indeed shamefully homophobic – is accurate?

But, Ronson wasn’t content with merely exposing that particular hoax .  

The video aspires to a much more expansive expose of Israeli “control”, and subsequently “reveals” that other pro-Israel videos have been posted on YouTube, such as two by Latma, (We Con the World, and Guns, Guns, Guns)

Both clips – which justifiably mock Hamas terrorists and their supporters – are characterized as something insensitive and manipulative.

Ronson darkly warns that, “there’s a whole sub-culture of young Israelis making YouTube videos about the Gaza Flotilla…Omer Gershon is one of many.”

The subtext of Ronson’s video is almost comical.

Israelis – as opposed to, one presumes, citizens of every other nation in the world – are uniquely engaged in an attempt to use social media to get their message out.

The videos Ronson focuses on are three out of hundreds of millions of selections available on YouTube – many distributed and promoted through other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter (produced by governments, NGOs, political organizations, and, mostly, private citizens) – which allows for the dissemination of ideas on a scale which would have impossible before the internet.  

Such social networking represents the democratization of the media which would, seemingly, be viewed as empowering and progressive.

That Ronson’s Guardian series on “control of the internet” opens with a focus on Israel is curious to say the least.  

The word “control” is hyperbolic to be sure, and a highly suggestive way of characterizing the routine use of social media to disseminate ideas as something malevolent.  

For every one pro-Israel video, there are, to be sure, countless others which demonize and vilify the Jewish state.  Yet, Ronson, for some reason, chose to shine his “expose” the former.

Last clip of Ronson's video

The suggestion that Israelis are trying to “control” the internet is beyond mere hyperbole.

Such a narrative feeds into the most unhinged conspiratorial narratives of Israeli/Zionist/Jewish manipulation of the media.

The word “hasbara” – which merely means “public diplomacy” – is a word routinely used in the pejorative by Israel’s fierce critics to characterize efforts by Zionists to win hearts and minds as something sinister.

To such haters, for instance, Israel’s relief efforts in Haiti in 2010 – where IDF medical teams set up the most effective field hospitals to assist the thousands of victims of the catastrophic earthquakes – was characterized by some as nothing but cynical hasbara.

Yes, Zionists try, as best they can, through the social media and other means, to combat the assault on Israel’s legitimacy.

But, so what?

Haven’t corrosive narratives of Jewish control of the media wrought enough damage? 

Why would genuine liberal voices allow themselves to perpetuate such historically lethal tropes about Jewish power?

It’s not enough that Israelis have to contend with forces intent on their state’s destruction – the relentless cross examinations suggesting that the Jewish state’s very existence is problematic?

But, we evidently also have to defend ourselves from the “charge” that we dare to fearlessly defend ourselves from such malicious assaults.

19 replies »

  1. Sounds like that old Jewish joke about the Jew who reads anti-Semitic literature to brighten his day, with stories of how powerful the Jews are.

    No, we don’t control the Internet. But now that you mention it, it’s a good idea…

    Just kidding. Personally, I’m more concerned about the pre-Internet mainstream media (fishwraps, boob tube etc.) than the Internet, which is an oasis in comparison. For all the talk of the “Dinosaur Media,” the majority of peeps still get their brains spoonfed by the MSM, and that’s a big problem for Israel, because the MSM worldwide (even in Israel itself!) is afflicted with Chronic Phakestinosis, i.e. the uncritical acceptance of the Arab-authored narrative of this conflict as a struggle of a non-Jewish “Palestinian nation” against “Zionist colonialism.”

    The Internet isn’t the problem, because it isn’t monopolized by anti-Israel liars as the MSM is. It’s the MSM that needs to be fixed and, as I’ve written a lot of times, it’s the Jewish State that’ll have to fix it.

  2. Jews defending themselves is the problem. Our role is to bow our heads and take whatever our betters dish out to us, please sir, may I have another? We are too uppity for their comfort. They like Jews who don’t defend themselves – you remember that sicko Scottish counselor who opined that the whole world respected the Jews when we were walking into the gas showers.

    Israel won’t just lie down and die, that is its existential crime. So, if the Jews fight back we have to be oppressive Nazis, not people like anyone else. If we won’t be victims anymore they are going to make us into demons.

  3. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video (which, by the way, the Guardian has a chutzpah in making it auto-play the minute you open the page. Way to go to get more hits). But I was heartened by the vast majority of the commenters (so far) who either mock Ronson and his dire warnings or mention the hundreds of thousands of antisemitic videos on the net.

  4. “you remember that sicko Scottish counselor who opined that the whole world respected the Jews when we were walking into the gas showers.”

    And here’s Richard Branson humming the same tune:

    “I think it’s something similar to what happened after 9/11. You know after 9/11 the world had enormous sympathy for
    America, and you know that sympathy was somehow lost. And obviously after the Second World War, the world had enormous sympathy for the Jewish people. Over a number of decades, that sympathy has been lost …. You’ve got a great country, but you’ve just got to hold the hands of your neighbors, and then you’ll get back on top again.”

  5. I hadn’t even noticed that byline about “people trying to control the Internet”.

    Either way, the Ronson piece looked extremely silly. When Pax/Gershon says “we’d love to bring a bit of Pride to the flotilla”, it’s pretty clear the film was taking the piss.

    • The problem pretzelberg is that it is the Guardian (who else?)who is not recognising it as satire and is suggesting that the Israelis (government) are controlling the internet. Listen to the comment from the free Gaza Movement rep – “The Israelis blah blah…..” The film they are all looking at indeed “was taking the piss” (as you put it), but that’s not what the reader is picking up. Indeed later, even the journalist for the JP is shown trying to explain that it might all just be satire, but the viewer has been fed with what he/she needs to know, not to trust any counter comment.

      The point is that the Guardian gives a platform to conspiracy theorists, especially when it comes to Zionists/Israel/Jews and perpetuates hate.

  6. Adam, I am listening to a programme called Woman’s Hour – non-sexist, men listen – on BBC domestic radio and I wonder whether The Groan will report the following good news about Israel.

    Children in this country suffer in large numbers from food allergies, in particular an allergy to peanuts. Children have died from peanut allergy and I’ve see the astonishing effects of minimal exposure.

    In Israel children are exposed to peanuts from a very early age and do not suffer allergy in anything like the percentage in children here. It seems a possible preventative is to expose children to peanuts from the age of four or five months so that they can build up antibodies as Israeli children do.

    I’m just too sick of the bile, deception and hatred aimed at Jews to bother what scumbags say and just want to counteract it a little.

  7. I think Guardian writers view all their output through a Jewish perspective and shoehorns anti-Israeli propaganda even in the most innocuous of articles.

    I think it goes something like this: writers find something interesting to write, write it and then sit back and see where they can insert some anti-Israeli dirt, then shoehorn it in, send it to the editors, they’ll “improve” on the anti-Israeli muck, print it, sit back, put their feet up on the table and enjoy a nice chianti with a Cuban.

    Good few Jews demonised, a good days work done…

    • Interesting point Rural.I can mirror it. I recall reading a number of Balzac novels a number of years ago. Every so often the story, say in Eugenie Grandet, deviates for a few pages to talk about a one-off inconsequential avaricious jewish character – nothing to do with the plot and never returns to him again, just for the writer and reader to get their antisemitic fill….and of course to get the novel published.

  8. Hoi Polloi

    This is exactly what I mean about the left’s subliminal campaign against the Jews and Israel. I doubt Richard Branson is even aware of the details of the I/P conflict, or the jihad and the islamists desire to islamasize the world. He reads anti-Jewish/Israeli (pro-islamist) propaganda in the media and hears the same thing on the BBC, and comes to a rapid conclusion that Israel is the aggressor and Hamas a lovely bunch of people whom Jews are intent on killing.

    Richard Branson is a businessman with his fingers in many a pie with little time or interest in the details of some mucky politics or religion. These things probably does not even register on his radar. He’s a prime target for anti-Israelis and it seems they got him.

  9. If Jews control the media then why the hell don’t we control the BBC and the Guardian,something is just not right here….

  10. Self-righteous zionists have the biggest influence on the internet… while we cannot prove that stuxnet was developed in occupied Palestine, we have enough smoke billowing up to know who the culprits are.
    As to having a right to exist as israel, look at history, it will repeat and the strategic interest in Palestine will fade away, the British and the Yanks will forsake you as they did to the other obsolete strategic positions.
    David took Jerusalem just over 3000 years ago… it was not his to begin with and no legitimate land court will recognize the occupiers of Palestine as rightful owners.

    The Sephardi Jews are genuine Jews, the ask-a-nazi jews are faker zionist swine.

    We love Jews and they are welcome to live in Palestine but the zionists must leave, leave planet earth.