Website policy

We provide links to articles we think will be of interest to our supporters. We are sympathetic to much of the content of what we post, but not to everything. The fact that something has been linked to here does not necessarily mean that we endorse the views expressed in it.


BSST is the leading charity focusing on small-scale grass roots cross community, anti poverty and humanitarian projects in Israel/Palestine

JfJfP comments


06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



Tweeting for control or for freedom

lrb_blogThe Other Wall
Rebecca L. Stein 19 April 2011
It has become commonplace to describe the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt as Facebook or Twitter revolutions; and almost as commonplace to respond that the role of social media in popular insurgencies has been exaggerated. Less attention, however, has been paid to states’ use of these technologies as PR and counterinsurgency tools.
Look at Israel, for instance. Over the last few years, a growing number of Israeli ministries and other state institutions have taken up Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube to disseminate the official line and to manage Israel’s international reputation, particularly during times of military confrontation. For Israel, there is a proud contrast here with its Arab neighbours, which have tended to see the internet as a dangerous vehicle of popular insurgency, to be repressed rather than harnessed. In the past year alone, Israeli budgets for social media work have increased dramatically. The learning curve has been steep and uneven, as senior officials are quick to admit, while the long-term political effects of the project remain to be seen: it’s too early to say what their impact will be on Israeli relations with neighbouring Arab countries, on international perceptions of the Israeli regime, or on the lives of Palestinians living under occupation.
After the failed Israeli military campaign in Lebanon in 2006, a new body called the National Information Directorate was set up to manage media relations in times of military crisis. In January 2010, an Internet and New Media department was established in the prime minister’s office, responsible for co-ordinating internet work across government branches and ministries with the aim of improving ‘public relations advocacy’. By last August, the prime minister’s office had launched its own YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and Facebook accounts, the last of them updated in Hebrew, English and Arabic. Two weeks ago, Binyamin Netanyahu became the third world leader, after Barack Obama and David Cameron, to be interviewed live on YouTube – this from a man famous for spurning the traditional news media, both domestic and international.
The Israel Defence Forces dates its involvement in social media from an experimental YouTube venture initiated by two young soldiers in the early days of the Israeli incursion into Gaza in 2008-9. Some of the videos uploaded by the IDF – including aerial footage of the assault and video blogs from spokespeople – were watched more than two million times. The IDF used YouTube for another sustained publicity campaign after the deadly raid on the relief flotilla last May. But the broad circulation of military-sponsored videos of the event did little to temper the fierce international condemnation of Israel’s actions, strengthening the case for a more substantial state commitment to social media. The IDF’s Twitter account, active since October 2009, is updated around the clock with official announcements; a Flickr photostream was launched six months ago. The IDF also gives frequent briefings to international bloggers, and has plans to embed bloggers on future military missions.
This odd hybrid of popular new media practices and more traditional modes of statecraft owes a lot to the ‘digital diplomacy’ practised in Washington, where ‘government 2.0’ has been pioneered. The head of the Israeli Internet and New Media department’s first fact-finding trip last year was to meet with members of the White House and State Department new media teams. But ‘there are no rules about how to bring the government into Facebook,’ a senior staff member from the prime minister’s office told me. ‘We have to invent them.’
The shift away from an official military idiom towards the language of personalised informality hasn’t been easy for the IDF. Facebook, with its high level of interactivity, is thought to present the best opportunity but also the biggest obstacle. The standard Facebook template, with a ‘wall’ which anyone can write on, is thought to be unfeasible, because of the barrage of comments expected from detractors. During the 2008-9 Gaza incursion, the IDF’s YouTube channel was initially left open to comments: it was closed the next day. IDF programmers are currently at work on an alternative, more tightly controlled template. Questions posted to the Facebook wall by everyday users will be screened and approved in advance, and then answered by IDF spokesmen; from there, users will be invited to participate in an open discussion forum.
Officials admit to being overwhelmed and understaffed when it comes to social media: just one person monitors the Foreign Ministry’s Arabic Facebook page, for example, and only during business hours. At the end of March, the Israeli Government Press Office took down its Facebook page two days after it launched, because it couldn’t cope with the wall posts of ‘anti-Israeli propagandists and hate spreaders’: comments like ‘Israel operates an entrenched system of racial apartheid’ had been rampant, much to the confusion of loyal subscribers who called for more active monitoring. In the same week, however, the state scored a Facebook victory when the site agreed to remove a page entitled ‘The Third Palestinian Intifada’ in response to pressure from Israel’s Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry and heightened public anxiety about the ways that Facebook was providing a platform for anti-Israeli incitement.
It’s still far from clear, however, how much control the state will be able to exert over Facebook and other social media sites. ‘We cannot but be impressed,’ the IDF spokesman Avi Benayahu recently said, ‘at how Western technology harms regimes… One cell phone camera can harm a regime more than any intelligence operation can.’ The regimes he had in mind were those toppled or threatened by popular uprisings in the Arab world. When I asked Israeli officials about the use of social media by anti-occupation activists, Jewish and Palestinian, on both sides of the Green Line, they didn’t want to talk about it. And none of them noted the resonance between the metaphorical Facebook wall and the concrete Separation Wall, both of which represent attempts by the state to control the political playing field.

Print Friendly

Comments are closed.