2012 November » ADL Blogs
November 30, 2012

ADL Tracks Hackers Targeting Jewish Institutions For Electronic Jihad

The Moroccan Ghosts, a politically motivated hacker group targeting the websites of Jewish institutions, launched a cyber-attack last week against a server that hosts approximately 50 Jewish congregational websites, including synagogues in New Jersey and Connecticut.

The hackers defaced the targeted websites with their logo and an hour-long video denying the Holocaust. The Moroccan Ghosts, which has reportedly hacked approximately 82 websites since March, had been promising to launch attacks for several months.

The group celebrated the attack in a statement posted to its Facebook page. The statement, translated by the Anti-Defamation League, claimed that the attack was carried out against “one of the most significant and very extreme Zionist assemblies that support Israel in America.”

The statement also read: “…we posted on their wall a video that proves the ridiculousness of accusing the Germans with the Holocaust. It [the holocaust] was a scam by the Jews to blackmail the Germans and the west after the war and gain international sympathy to take over Palestinian lands… The truth is Holocaust never happened…”

ADL notified Facebook about the group’s activity and subsequently, the page was taken down. The group has since reestablished a new Facebook page, featuring similar content and promising to continue to recreate new Facebook pages as needed.

A post on the groups Twitter feed warned that “War against the Zionist pigs is coming coming coming…,” Through its twitter feed, it also declared support to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah, the Palestinians and the Arab and Islamic causes.

On one of the Moroccan Ghosts’ YouTube channels, the group describes itself as a Moroccan patriotic group that operates under Morocco’s motto “God, the King, and the Homeland.” The group has been targeting perceived supporters of Israel, mostly but not exclusively, in the United States.

In addition to its animosity towards Israel, Zionists and Jews, the group claims to oppose the Polisario Front, a group working for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco.

This latest cyber-attack is part of a larger trend of politically motivated hackings targeting the websites of perceived supporters of Israel. ADL’s regional offices can offer guidance to Jewish institutions regarding online and digital security.

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November 30, 2012

Renewed Concerns About “Legislative Prayer”

As we approach 2013, the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on legislative prayer, the issue has come alive again.

Thirty years ago, in an amicus curiae brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the Nebraska Legislature’s practice of designating a chaplain to open its sessions with a prayer, ADL noted that the practice was not only unconstitutional but unwise, because it would be politically divisive.  The Court nevertheless upheld the practice in Marsh v. Chambers, carving out a limited exception to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which mandates the separation of church and state, for non-sectarian prayers.

Ever since, lower courts have wrestled with whether and how prayers can be non-sectarian, and recently there has been a new wave of cases.  Courts in at least five states are now considering various forms of prayers before state and local legislative bodies, county and/or city commissions, and it may just be a matter of time before the U.S. Supreme Court revisits the issue.   It has, in fact, become politically divisive.  When and if a case reaches the Supreme Court, the Court should prohibit such “legislative prayer” once and for all.

Over the past three decades, courts have already issued widely diverging opinions, essentially confirming that a prayer can never truly be non-sectarian.  Some courts have determined that prayers in the name of Jesus, Abraham, or Mohammed are not sectarian or do not advance religion.  Of course, even a seemingly non-denominational prayer is likely to cause divisions among Christians, Jews and Muslims.  And most courts have failed to consider that any such prayer would exclude adherents of  polytheistic or Eastern faiths such as Hinduism or  Buddhism, not to mention the growing segment of American society that identifies as humanist or atheist. 

Legislative prayer is not only divisive, but also a distraction from the job of governing that can end up in costly litigation.  If legislative bodies deem it necessary to solemnize their sessions, the best practice would be a moment of silence.  It allows officials and citizens to silently pray or meditate in the faith or beliefs of their choosing, without government officials conveying any actual or perceived message of religious preference or exclusion.

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November 26, 2012

ADL Report on Campus Anti-Israel Activity in 2011-12

In the past two weeks, close to 40 anti-Israel demonstrations and rallies took place on American college campuses in reaction to Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense. These rallies, most of which were organized by anti-Israel student groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, comprised more than 1/3 of the total anti-Israel rallies that took place across the country.

But this latest burst in anti-Israel activity did not take place in a vacuum. In fact, anti-Israel student groups are increasingly organized and deploy a variety of tools to spread vitriol about the state of Israel and encourage other potentially like-minded students to join the cause.

A new ADL report, which looks at the state of anti-Israel activity in the 2011-12 academic year, highlights several new trends and initiatives that have developed on American campuses, including accusations that Israel engages in “pinkwashing,” calls for a one-state solution, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns, comparisons between Israel’s security fence and the U.S.-Mexico border, and anti-Semitic events that took place under the guise of anti-Israel activism.

Make sure to check out the new report on our website: Anti-Israel Activity on Campus, 2011-2012: An ADL Annual Review

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