Another Guardian video asks “who controls the internet?” The answer again: Israel

Jon Ronson has now posted three investigative videos at the Guardian, as part of a series titled who’s controlling the internet?”. 

When you consider the question of “who’s controlling the internet?”, what would normally come to mind, it would seem, are totalitarian nations like North Korea, China, Iran, and Syria  – states who routinely block web sites critical of their regime.

Yet, two of his first three exposes have focused on, yes, Israel.

Ronson focuses on what’s known as Astroturfing – a form of advocacy in support of a political, organizational, or corporate agenda, designed to give the appearance of a “grassroots” movement. 

The first Ronson video primarily focused on one hoax video by an Israeli calling himself Marc Pax claiming he was denied permission to join the Free Gaza flotilla because the participation of a gay activist would not “serve the interests” of the flotilla movement.

Pax was soon identified as Omer Gershon, an Israeli actor involved in marketing.

An intern working in the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem had posted the clip on Twitter, and government websites put up links to the clip.

However, the links were removed after the hoax was revealed, with apologies from Israeli officials.

That Ronson decided to lead his investigative series with one hoax perpetrated by one Israeli is in itself quite telling. 

But, it’s even more curious that Ronson decided that this single video, out of billions posted on YouTube every year of questionable veracity, deserved scrutiny.

Ronson darkly warned, in the first video:

“there’s a whole sub-culture of young Israelis making YouTube videos about the Gaza Flotilla…Omer Gershon is one of many.”

The subtext of Ronson’s video is almost comical.

Out of the millions of antisemitic and anti-Zionist YouTube videos on the web, Ronson seems especially concerned that some citizens of the democratic state of Israel produce videos attempting to refute anti-Zionist and antisemitic discourse. 

Ronson seems intent on linking the hoax to the Israeli government, or the Israeli “hasbara” community, and thus interviewed producers of the Israeli satire site Latma, columnist, and Latma creator, Caroline Glick, as well as an official at the Israeli government’s office of Public Diplomacy.

Ronson shows clips of a Latma spoof called “Guns, Guns, Guns“, and, evidently appalled at the suggesting that Hamas imports rockets to fire at Israelis, asks Glick, incredulously, “Guns are Gaza’s hobby?”  

Glick then replies, “well, no, killing Jews is”.  

Nonplussed by Glick’s reply, Ronson then quickly changes the subject by asking Glick about the Gershon hoax.  

Glick points out that, yes, it was a hoax, but, of course, the premise of the hoax, that Gaza culture is extremely homophobic, is undeniable. 

Ronson then visits an Israeli official who may substantiate his theory that, as Ronson warns ominously, the Gershon video “may be the work of a new Israeli government department called the ministry for public diplomacy.”

Among the sins of this “Hasbara” effort by the Israeli government, Ronson explains, is the distribution of (gasp!) pamphlets to Israelis on how best to respond to typical accusations of Israeli villainy.

You have to listen to video, and listen to Ronson’s voice, to understand how comical the narrative truly is. 

Evidently, the fact that Israel has a department of public diplomacy is, for Ronson, not only something unusual, but dark and sinister.  

Finally, Ronson interviews Shay Attias, of the Israeli Ministry for Public Diplomacy, to inquire about the Astroturfing allegation. 

We’re then shown Attias explaining to Ronson what “hasbara” initiatives his department is “scheming”. 

Among the propaganda maliciously peddled by the Israeli is Ministry of Public Diplomacy, we learn from Ronson, is the fact that Israel invented the cherry tomato.  

Yes, such Israeli agricultural propaganda is simply chilling. 

Ronson then asks Attias the million dollar question: whether Attias’s office was involved with the Gershon hoax?

Attias definitively denies that the Israeli government had anything to do with the video, but, Ronson, clearly unconvinced, leaves us with a closing clip of “to be continued”.

Of course, the broader question of how, precisely, Israeli public diplomacy is connected to the question of “who’s controlling the internet” is left unstated. 

To provide some perspective, in 2010 alone there were 14 billion videos viewed on YouTube. 

Totalitarian states like China has blocked YouTube.  Morocco shut down access to the site in 2008. Thailand blocked YouTube between 2006 and 2007 due to offensive videos relating to King Bhumibol Adulyadej.  Turkey blocked access to YouTube between 2008 and 2010 after controversy over videos deemed insulting to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. On December 3, 2006, Iran temporarily blocked access to YouTube, along with several other sites, after declaring them as violating social and moral codes of conduct. 

Yet, Ronson’s Guardian series is obsessed with one hoax video posted by one citizen of a free and open society, and views it in the context of the question of who’s controlling the media.  

Evidently, for Ronson, there’s not nearly enough anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda on the internet, and the urgent question which Guardian liberals must know is who is behind the insidious dissemination of information attempting to refute the volley of defamations against the Jewish people. 

‘The Audacity of Dopes Band’ brings you “Guns, Guns, Guns” (A Latma video)

Latma, Israel’s premier satire website, brings you The Audacity of Dopes Band singing “Guns, Guns” Guns” in honor of the abject failure of this year’s attempted flotilla to Hamastan in Gaza.  The song was recorded by Idan Green.

Satire news show critical of Israeli media (but critiques hit much closer to home)

Latma is an Israeli group that produces political satire for Internet broadcast, and was created to mock Israel’s media. Caroline Glick, who is one of the web site’s editors, told the Jerusalem Post that the group was founded with the intention of using comedy to critique the “egregious leftist slant of news coverage in this country.”  Its satire is spot-on and, at times, outright hilarious. But, indeed the critiques are also relevant in the context of the anti-Israel media out side of Israel (especially one news enterprise located in the UK).

Here are snapshots from the program (see text at bottom of screen):

There was a quip by the late senator Daniel Moynihan that “people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.”  Latma adeptly demonstrates that many in the media seem to passionately disagree with his statement.

Here’s latest episode:

Churchill’s true colors and the world’s enraged response to Succot

In this week’s episode of the Tribal Update, the television-on-internet satire show produced weekly by Latma(the Hebrew-language media satire website edited by Caroline Glick), against the backdrop of the renewed “land for peace” talks between Israel and the PLO, the truth is revealed about World War 2’s origins and reveal Winston Churchill’s “true colors.”

A song for our times

This is a guest post by Mitnaged

YouTube is a splendid invention.  It brings people in the world closer together, it makes the world smaller.  Hopelessly inept musicians can torture famous and beautiful music and post videos of themselves doing that to YouTube.  There are glorious scenes from operas which the ordinary person might never be able to afford to see. There are bands, choirs, kazoo players, performing animals, scenes from films, indeed almost anything you might think of.

It is difficult to believe that within such a rich variety, theoretically free to all and for all, there is nevertheless a malign political twist which actively supports the distortion of news accounts and current events.  This led to the withdrawal from YouTube of Latma’s production of “We con the World” (although it has now been reinstated) as well as some of the IDF footage of the flotilla incident.   Still available throughout that time, however, were videos of antisemitic Muslim preachers (see also here) as well as other YouTube videos peddling antisemitism to name but a few.

The IDF filmed the flotilla incident, including the polite invitation from the Israeli navy to the Marmara to allow itself to be escorted into Ashdod.  Also on record is the inveterate antisemitic rejoinder from these “peace” activists for the officer issuing the invitation to “go back to Auschwitz.” We are left in no doubt as to what motivates them.

Also included in the IDF’s final dossier were films from the Marmara’s own CCTV cameras, which showed these brave fighters tooling up beforehand and yet still the terminally cognitively dissonant refuse to believe the evidence of their own eyes and ears.  Why is this?

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YouTube silences Latma, removes We Con the World

This is a cross post by Caroline Glick from

As Israel went offline for the Jewish sabbath, YouTube removed most versions of Latma’s hit parody song We Con the World. If you try to access the song on YouTube you receive the notification:

This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Warner/ Chappell Music, Inc. .

Copyright experts we advised with before posting the song told us in no uncertain terms that we were within our rights to use the song because we did so in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine. The Fair Use Doctrine, copied and pasted below from the US Copyright Office stipulates that it is legal and permissible to use copyrighted material under the fair use doctrine for purposes of parody.

Copyright attorneys also warned us that given our clearly lawful use of the song We are the World, if anyone wished to silence our voices, they wouldn’t target us. Instead they would target YouTube. It is YouTube’s standard practice to remove any material that they receive even the flimsiest threat for because the company wishes to avoid all litigation.

At the same time, this is not YouTube’s first move to silence Israeli voices. During Operation Cast Lead, the IDF Spokesman’s Unit established a YouTube channel and began posting combat footage on its channel to bypass the anti-Israel media and go directly to news consumers.

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