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October 14, 2014

Florida Temple Latest Target For ISIS Sympathizing Hackers

Update – 10/15/14: ADL alerted Facebook about the “Team System Dz”  Facebook page. The page was removed from Facebook by the following day. ADL applauds Facebook’s response to the hacker group’s effort to exploit its service. 

Last week, as Jews were celebrating the holiday of Sukkot, a hacker group calling itself “Team System Dz” attacked the website of Temple Kol Ami Emmanu-El in South Florida, redirecting visitors to a page with messages expressing support of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).team-system-dz-florida-temple-hackers

Visitors to the synagogue’s website were directed to statements in English such as “I love you ISIS” and an Arabic statement promising to “never forget about the heroes of the Muslim Ummah [nation] who sacrificed their lives for the sake of God,” an apparent reference to ISIS fighters. Visitors also saw an image of the Star of David crossed out next to the words, “F[ ] You Israel.

This incident is the latest in a series of attacks against Jewish institutional websites carried out by groups apparently based in the Middle East and North Africa. While past hacking efforts against Jewish institutions have focused on the Israeli Palestinian conflict, more recent attacks against Jewish and non-Jewish targets are being carried out in the name of ISIS.

“Team System Dz” claimed credit for and bragged about its “hacks of Jewish websites especially the website of the Miami temple” on its Facebook page. The claim of credit noted that the attack “coincided with the time of one of the Jewish celebrations [and] created a big noise on media sites.” The group’s Facebook page also claims to have targeted other websites, including other Jewish and Israeli websites around the world.

Yesterday the group threatened additional attacks against American and Israeli websites. “…we will spend all the time for a massive number of attacks on American and Israeli websites, with God’s will they will be hacked. Curse upon America and Israel.”

The group appears to be based in Algeria; its Facebook profile cover image includes the phrase “Proud to be Algerian” and other posts feature Algerian flags and symbols. The “Dz” in the group’s name seems to be a reference to the internet domain designation for Algeria. Furthermore, most announcements on the page are written in the Algerian Arabic dialect.

In addition to “Team System Dz,” the name “Jordan Earthquake” in Arabic was also listed on the page that the temple’s visitors were redirected to.  “Jordan Earthquake” appears to be a hacker closely affiliated with “Team System Dz.” Various posts on the group’s Facebook page indicate that “Jordan Earthquake” is a partner in several of its hacking operations.

The “Team System Dz” Facebook page also contains materials prepared by the media bureau of ISIS. The group’s Twitter handle uses several ISIS-related hashtags and includes links to many media accounts about the temple’s website’s hacking.

Jewish websites in the U.S. have become a common target for hacker groups in the Arab and Muslim world. Below is a sampling of attacks launched by various hacker groups against Jewish institutions in the U.S. in the past few years.

  • In July 2014, The Moroccan Islamic Union-mail hacker group claimed responsibility for vandalizing the websites of Jewish congregations in Pennsylvania and Houston with messages in support of Gaza.
  • In December 2013, the Tunisia based group, Fallaga, hacked the website of the Missouri-based Jewish Radio.
  • In July 2013, the website of a Jewish communal high school program in upstate New York was hacked by a member of the Gaza Hackers Team. The website was defaced with anti-Israel messages.
  • In December 2012, the Bangladesh Cyber Army hacker group targeted the website of a Temple in Omaha and posted images depicting what the group called “Israel killing children.”

Other hacker groups like aljyyosh (“the armies” in Arabic) claim to have hacked into personal information belonging to American Jews and Israelis and provided instructions on how to hack into such personal information on their various online forums.

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August 28, 2014

Moving Forward From Ferguson

“History simmers beneath the surface in more communities than just Ferguson,” Attorney General Eric Holder aptly recognized during his visit there. The conversation about Ferguson cannot start with the death of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man shot to death by a white police officer.  Though tragic in and of itself, the story goes back much further.ferguson-civil-rights

It is a sad truism that America’s laws—and the people charged with enforcing them—have not always protected communities of color.  In the infamous Dred Scott case, which originated just miles from Ferguson, the Supreme Court shamefully ruled in 1857 that African Americans had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”  Though the case served as a catalyst for the Civil War and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments ratified shortly thereafter to supersede the ruling, deep-seated racism continued.

Jim Crow laws segregated society and relegated African Americans to second-class citizens. Lynchings terrorized communities.  All too often not only did law enforcement fail to protect African American communities, but police officers participated in the lynch mobs.  During the Civil Rights Movement, now-infamous images captured police officers using dogs, fire hoses and billy clubs against peaceful protestors.

Since the Civil Rights Movement half a century ago we have worked hard as a nation to move towards a more just and equal society. We have come a long way, but Ferguson stands as a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go.

In addressing the crisis in Ferguson, the first step must be open and respectful dialogue.  We cannot move forward unless and until we face the past.  Part of that discussion must be about the role of law enforcement and their relationship with the communities they have sworn to serve and protect.

Since 1999 the Anti-Defamation League, in partnership with the United States Holocaust Museum, has conducted trainings for law enforcement—from police chiefs and the head of federal agencies to recruits and new FBI agents—exploring what happens when police lose sight of the values they swore to uphold and their role as protectors of the  people they serve. By contrasting the conduct of police in Nazi Germany, and the role that law enforcement is expected to play in our democracy, the program underscores the importance of safeguarding constitutional rights, building trust with the people and communities they serve, and the tragic consequences when there is a gap between how law enforcement behaves and the core values of the profession.

We know from our work that the vast majority of officers care deeply about the communities they serve.  But that is not to say police are infallible.  None of us is.  And there are certainly some within law enforcement who engage in misconduct, as is the case in every profession.  But the bad acts of some cannot and do not define law enforcement.

America is strongest and safest when there is mutual understanding and trust between law enforcement and communities.  We must seek to build those bridges by recognizing our troublesome past, acknowledging the problems persisting today, and committing to changes that move us forward to a more perfect union.

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August 21, 2014

Anti-Zionist Group Targets Jewish Institutions

Over the past two weeks, demonstrators from Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), the largest Jewish anti-Zionist group in the United States, have entered Jewish institution buildings to directly confront the leaders of major American Jewish organizations over their support for Operation Protective Edge.

On four separate occasions, members of JVP made their way into buildings belonging to Jewish institutions and began to protest inside. Their goal in getting inside the buildings was to hand deliver an open letter calling the institutional Jewish community’s support for Operation Protective Edge “painful” and “a betrayal of our [Jewish] history and values.”

1. New York City (August 20) – Members of JVP’s New York City chapter entered the UJA-Federation offices in Manhattan. One of the protesters, who live-tweeted from the demonstration, wrote “Occupying UJA federation office in NYC now.” The protesters eventually moved their demonstration to the sidewalk outside of the building.

2. Denver (August 19) – The Front Range JVP chapter led a group of protesters into the JEWISHcolorado building in Denver. Inside the building, protesters attempted to deliver their petition to JEWISHcolorado’s President and CEO Doug Seserman. After their request was denied, they moved the demonstration to the building’s lobby and then eventually outside of the building after 911 was reportedly called.

3. Durham (August 12) – A small group of protesters from JVP’s North Carolina chapter interrupted the “Community Gathering in Support of Israel and Peace,” which was sponsored by the Jewish Federations of Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill. While a speaker was delivering a presentation, members of the group interrupted his speech, unfolded a large banner and began to make demands from institutional Jewish leadership about their stance on Operation Protective Edge.

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JVP members at the Philadelphia Jewish Federation building

4. Philadelphia (August 8) – Protesters from JVP’s Philadelphia chapter made their way into the Jewish Federation offices in Philadelphia. After gaining entrance, they demanded to meet with the Federation’s CEO Naomi Adler. After being told that they would not receive an appointment, a small portion of the group refused to leave the building and continued to protest inside, reportedly leading to their arrest.

Six other protests have also taken place outside of Jewish institutions over the past month, although various groups such as Al-Awda and the newly-founded If Not Now, When?, have organized those. No attempts were made to enter the Jewish institutions in those cases, but like JVP, the protesters called on the Jewish community to condemn Operation Protective Edge.

At least 25 other protests have taken place outside of buildings affiliated with Israel or Israeli companies. At one of those demonstrations, members of JVP and Jews Say No! made their way into the offices of Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF). Once inside, the demonstrators began to protest and conducted a “die-in.” Nine protestors were reportedly arrested.

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