Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shin Bet's snoop blog & cybergeography

Approved official blogging arouses Izzy's suspicions. When the intelligence corps enters into the cybersphere so openly, is the goal recruitment or disinformation? If you log on or register, will your computer get tapped? Paranoid, some would brand me, but this cyber-spy enterprise, with its glamourous mock silhouettes, feels bogus. Shin Bet is the Israeli equivalent of the FBI or MI5. Its motto is "מגן ולא יראה", which translates as "Defender (Shield) who shall not be seen". But apparently it wants to be heard in cyberspace, a place where screams are routine. The BBC blogger, Tim Franks, is quite intrigued with Agent Aleph's Hebrew-blogging quartet.

Shin Bet says Israelis are keen to learn more about their life.
The Israeli secret service has launched a new venture: it has started to carry an internet diary, or blog, written by four of its agents.

The agents discuss how they were recruited, and what sort of work they perform; they also answer questions sent in by members of the public.

The tone of the blog is chatty, at times even facetious.
The agents from Israel's internal security service, the Shin Bet, are shown in silhouette.

Agent Chet is the sole woman among them. She works in hi-tech.
She says she went to the agency because it offered her a better "work-life balance" than her previous job in the private sector.

There are parts of her job, she says, which she can't discuss even with her husband - but then again, at home, they don't much like talking about work.
Agent Aleph, dubbed "the expert" on the blog, attempts to debunk a few myths.

"We don't work in a basement," he says. "We don't spend the day wearing earpieces."
"And we don't get to have flashing blue lights for our cars. We have to sit in traffic jams like everyone else."

The blogs are intended to draw members of the public into other areas of the Shin Bet website - in particular the recruitment section.Some of the positions are advertised with a red star and the slogan "hot job".There is the opportunity to work on what are described as "irregular missions"; to work on one's own; and to acquire a variety of "special skills".

A Shin Bet official told the BBC that the idea was to inform the public that the agency offers work beyond just stopping Palestinian paramilitary attacks.

The official said that the agency had been cheered by the feedback from members of the Israeli public - keen to find out more about the jobs within Shin Bet, the pay and even the food.

Meanwhile, over on Facebook, Israeli settlers have questioned and expanded the computer's automatic listing program. Their demands that the social networking website list them as residents of Israel, even though they might physically be deep in the West Bank, have been met. There is no such country as Palestine, the settlers pointed out in a coordinated email campaign. Previously, Facebook automatically tagged all Jerusalem residents as living in Israel; now, alerted to political sensitivities, Facebook friends have the option of listing Israel or Palestine as the homeland in cyberspace. Online battles over cyber-turf have been underway for quite awhile. Advocacy websites routinely orchestrate corrective comments campaigns and many target Jihadist or anti-Semitic websites and blogs. And vice versa.

Here's a sample of this cyber-groundwork from the Israel Project:
The glorification of terrorists and terror activity is rampant throughout the World Wide Web. All major terrorist organizations maintain modern Web sites, where they proudly communicate the details of their attacks against civilians. Facebook groups are dedicated to lauding the mass murderers of Yeshiva students or glorifying Hassan Nasrallah. The leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah, which fought a war in July 2006, has 3,315 members in his Facebook group.

Iran-backed terrorist groups such Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah publish their own sites, many of which link back to the Islamic Republic of Iran, which provides hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to the groups, as well as weapons and terrorist training.

The terrorist groups’ Web sites are: Hamas’s Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades,Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah

The Israel Project Founder and President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi insists, “Facebook should be a safe space for people to network, not a recruitment and glorification tool for terrorists. It is sad and cynical that there are those who are using a site geared to connecting young people around the world to celebrate the murder of young people in a school.”

Interestingly, Israel Project has its own Facebook group as "part of its efforts to work for peace." They also provide chopper tours of eretz Israel for incoming foreign correspondents.


MediKate said...

So far, more than 4,000 people have joined the "If Palestine is removed from Facebook... I'm closing my account" group. Read more on Checkpoint Jeru, McClatchey.

And who is Top Hottie of the Israeli cabinet?

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