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July 23, 2014 0

ISIS Faces Resistance From Social Media Companies

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has gar­nered atten­tion for its sophis­ti­cated use of social media. While the ter­ror­ist group has built on tech­niques pio­neered by other ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions to spread its mes­sages and recruit fol­low­ers, social media com­pa­nies are increas­ingly shut­ting down ISIS accounts and frus­trat­ing its pro­pa­ganda dis­tri­b­u­tion mechanisms.

On July 12, ISIS announced that sev­eral of its main media accounts would be sus­pend­ing their use of Twit­ter in favor of a social media ser­vice called Frien­dica. This came after sev­eral weeks dur­ing which Twit­ter shut down ISIS offi­cial sites and ISIS replaced them with new ones.

Almost imme­di­ately, mul­ti­ple ISIS sup­port­ers joined Frien­dica to fol­low the group.

On July 20, the con­tent was deleted from seven of ISIS’s new Frien­dica sites. Every page on the Frien­dica web­site now comes with a ban­ner at the top stat­ing “Islamic State not wel­come on friendica.eu.”

On July 20, ISIS tried again, cre­at­ing accounts on alter­nate social media sites Quit­ter and Dias­pora. Although the Dias­pora accounts remain up, the Quit­ter accounts were shut down on July 23, replaced with a pic­ture pro­mot­ing peace and coex­is­tence (see image), a link to a web­site sell­ing books about Mahatma Gandhi and text in Eng­lish and Ara­bic stat­ing, “When you fight evil with evil – evil wins.”isis-quitter-diaspora-twitter-terrorism

In the past week, Twit­ter also shut down mul­ti­ple accounts rep­re­sent­ing ISIS regional commands.

ISIS has already recre­ated some of its accounts on Twit­ter. Ale3tisam, an offi­cial ISIS media out­let that had unsuc­cess­fully attempted to migrate to Frien­dica and Quit­ter, returned to Twit­ter and cre­ated a new account on July 23.  Sev­eral of the regional groups have done so as well. There also remain mul­ti­ple ISIS sup­port­ers with Twit­ter accounts who them­selves reg­u­larly share offi­cial propaganda.

Ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions are resource­ful enough to find new out­lets when their accounts are shut down. ISIS has con­tin­ued to cre­ate and dis­trib­ute media to wide audi­ences through­out the last three weeks. How­ever, there is no doubt that they also lose plat­forms and power, fac­ing greater dif­fi­culty in spread­ing their hate. By respond­ing aggres­sively to ter­ror­ist accounts, social media com­pa­nies have the power to decrease sig­nif­i­cantly the reach of ter­ror­ists’ hate­ful messages.

Indi­vid­u­als can also aid in the process. ADL’s Cyber-Safety Action Guide enables the com­mu­nity to reg­is­ter con­cerns with Inter­net ser­vice providers when they encounter ter­ror­ist con­tent online.

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July 23, 2014 0

More Reflections from Israelis:  Mourning two American-Israeli soldiers 

 

Overflow at the July 23, 2014 funeral of Sgt. Max Steinberg

Over­flow at the funeral of Sgt. Max Steinberg

16 Days into Pro­tec­tive Edge oper­a­tion, the list of fallen sol­diers grows longer and longer. In the last 48 hours, two names of so-called “lone sol­diers” whose fam­i­lies live out­side of Israel were added to the list: two young Amer­i­cans who moved to Israel and served in the IDF – Sgt. Sean Carmeli, who grew up in South Padre, Texas, and Sgt. Max Stein­berg, from Los Angeles.

On Mon­day after­noon, when the funeral of Sgt. Sean Carmeli was announced, there was fear that not that many peo­ple would attend as he does not have imme­di­ate fam­ily Israel.  The Mac­cabi Haifa soc­cer team, of which Sgt. Carmeli was a fan, called on the pub­lic to pay their respects to the lone sol­dier.    Par­tic­i­pa­tion went far beyond all expec­ta­tions: around 20,000 peo­ple from all over Israel came together to pay their respects.

And, today, the peo­ple of Israel embraced the fam­ily of the lone sol­dier from L.A, Sgt. Max Stein­berg. As a Jewish-American orga­ni­za­tion, ADL Israel staff felt the need to attend the funeral and pay our respects to this young American-Jew who came to Israel and fought in his com­bat unit shoul­der to shoul­der with his Israeli friends.   On an extremely hot day, tens of thou­sands flocked to the ceme­tery  – esti­mates runs between 30,000–40,000 peo­ple – the vast major­ity of whom did not know Sgt. Steinberg.

The funeral started with the almost sur­real announce­ment by the Home Front Com­mand instruct­ing atten­dees what to do in case a siren went off dur­ing the funeral. Even dur­ing this emo­tional and tragic moment, this reminder served to rein­force the frag­ile nature of the cur­rent Israeli reality.

The eulo­gies deliv­ered at the funeral brought to life Max’s char­ac­ter and the strong con­nec­tion he felt for the State of Israel and the IDF. His insis­tence on serv­ing in the Golani com­bat unit, and doing so with excel­lence in the var­i­ous courses dur­ing the train­ing process, reflect his spe­cial com­mit­ment and strength.

As Israelis, we felt that join­ing the impres­sive atten­dance at the funeral was our way of express­ing our sor­row at the loss and our deep­est grat­i­tude for an indi­vid­ual who was will­ing to sac­ri­fice his life in a just war, in order to pro­tect our lives. Many brought Israeli flags and waved them proudly. Max’s emo­tional father ended his remarks with a prayer for peace, and a stir­ring: ” Am Israel Chai” – the peo­ple of Israel live.

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July 23, 2014 0

New EU “Conclusions” on Israel and Gaza

The Euro­pean Union’s For­eign Affairs Coun­cil, com­prised of the 28 EU for­eign min­is­ters, reg­u­larly issues “con­clu­sions” on a vari­ety of inter­na­tional issues.  Yesterday’s “Coun­cil con­clu­sions on the Mid­dle East Peace Process” show greater EU under­stand­ing for Israeli posi­tions and an end to the EU’s patience with Hamas in Gaza.

The most sig­nif­i­cant change from the pre­vi­ous Con­clu­sions of Decem­ber 2013 is the demand that “all ter­ror­ist groups in Gaza must dis­arm” and the call for “the Pales­tin­ian gov­ern­ment to take charge of the Gaza Strip.”  The EU wants Pres­i­dent Abbas’s so-called “unity” gov­ern­ment to replace Hamas and main­tain a monop­oly on the use of force.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the EU con­demned Hamas for call­ing “on the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion of Gaza to pro­vide them­selves as human shields.”  Israel has been high­light­ing this war crime by Hamas and now the EU has endorsed Israel’s position. EU Flag

The EU noted that Israeli mil­i­tary oper­a­tions “must be pro­por­tion­ate and in line with inter­na­tional human­i­tar­ian law.”  How­ever, the con­clu­sions do not assert that Israel has acted dis­pro­por­tion­ately or con­trary to inter­na­tional human­i­tar­ian law.

For the first time, the EU included a para­graph about “events in the wider Mid­dle East [which] pose seri­ous threats to the EU” and war­rant a re-statement of the EU’s “fun­da­men­tal com­mit­ment to the secu­rity of Israel.”  For too long and in too many Euro­pean cap­i­tals, diplo­mats pro­moted the fal­lacy of Israeli-Palestinian peace as the key to peace through­out the Mid­dle East.  Per­haps the inclu­sion of regional threats in “con­clu­sions on the Mid­dle East Peace Process” demon­strates a new EU con­sen­sus that the Iran­ian nuclear pro­gram, the civil war in Syria, and the grow­ing threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) hin­der Israeli-Palestinian peace and not the mis­guided reverse.

The EU’s “peace para­me­ters” changed with respect to refugees.  The word “real­is­tic” was added and now states that the EU expects “A just, fair, agreed and real­is­tic solu­tion to the refugee ques­tion.”  The change seems to be a nod towards Israel and an expres­sion of frus­tra­tion with the Pales­tin­ian Authority’s nego­ti­at­ing posi­tion on refugees.

Do the new EU con­clu­sions rep­re­sent a sea change? No. But the tide may be turning.

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