Israeli Defense Forces Embrace Web 2.0

In a quote that could have just as easily have come out of Sarah Palin’s mouth, IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu recently told a journalism conference that the Israeli military is creating an Internet and new media unit to get past the ‘filter’ of the mainstream media. This after their self-described success with YouTube during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ last year in Gaza. Haaretz reports:

Responding to criticism of Israel’s ability to face hostile entities on the Web, Benayahu said the new program would be able to deal with the problem. He said that from each group drafted to the Army Spokesman’s Office, between eight to 10 young people who are experts in Web 2.0 – YouTube, Facebook and Twitter – to be identified before induction, would be assigned to the new department. The new recruits would be put to work in the new media unit after undergoing a general Army Spokesman’s Unit training course.

Benayahu further stated that the primary target is “mainly an international audience that is less exposed to operational processes. Foreign media do more ‘zooming-in’ and so it’s important to us to show the totality of IDF actions without a filter.” Haaretz also reports that the military is reaching out to bloggers that are known opinion leaders. I suspect they just don’t want to be outdone by the Iranians.

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3 Responses to “Israeli Defense Forces Embrace Web 2.0”

  1. nikita Says:

    I wanted to leave comments here:Balkanization in the South African Blogosphere (Updated), but comments seem to be “closed”. I was searching for other races blogs to read (from SA) and found only one – linked to my blogger-blog (with the same name) and he’s not blogging anymore. You will find a few links on my blog to other countries’ blogs – Indians and other races – but the study shows once again – “Birds of a feather, flog together”. Like minded people stick together. People who share the same values, culture etc. like to group together. Something wrong with it? NO!

  2. Gary Rabkin Says:


    It is not surprising (nor unreasonable) that the IDF uses the Internet and new media to combat the rising tide of misinformation and biased reporting by media covering Israel. The comparison of Israel with Iran is one example of misinformation that needs to be corrected.

    Iran is an authoritarian regime that brutally oppresses dissent and murders dissenters. Increasingly, Iran is using the Internet to monitor and track down opponents of the government.

    Israel, on the other hand, is a thriving democracy with robust guarantees of freedom of speech for its citizens and the media. Israel allows journalists and citizens to report freely – whether on the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, blogs or the press. Iran restricts media coverage and access and use of the Internet by intimidation, beatings, judicial action and blocking access to technology (e.g. Iran has blocked access to Facebook and uses Facebook to monitor its citizens.) [1][2][3]

    Fortunately, we can turn to the Open Net Initiative (a collaborative partnership in which your Berkman Center is a member) as a source of information to compare access to and use of the Internet in Israel and Iran. According to the Open Net Initiative’s country profile on Israel:

    “Israel does not filter the Internet, and in this respect maintains one of the freest Internet communities in the Middle East”. [4]

    On Iran, the Open Net Initiative reports that:

    ”The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to expand and consolidate its technical filtering system, which is among the most extensive in the world. A centralized system for Internet filtering has been implemented that augments the filtering conducted at the Internet service provider (ISP) level. Iran now employs domestically produced technology for identifying and blocking objectionable Web sites, reducing its reliance on Western filtering technologies. The regulatory agencies in Iran charged with policing the Internet continue to expand. The Revolutionary Guard has begun to play an active role in enforcing Internet content standards. In conjunction with expansive surveillance, this increase in regulatory attention exacerbates an online atmosphere that promotes self-censorship and discourages dissenting views. The blocking of political Web sites during the 2009 presidential elections energized opposition to Internet censorship within Iran and has brought fresh attention to the issue of press controls.” [5]

    Indeed, Israel is one of the only nations in the Middle East that offers its citizens free and open access to the Internet and freedom of speech. According to the Open Net Initiative’s regional profile on the Middle East:

    “The Middle East and North Africa is one of the most heavily censored regions in the world. Human rights watchdogs and free speech advocacy groups continue to criticize the media restrictions and repressive legal regimes, and over the past few years, a great number of bloggers and cyber-dissidents have been jailed.” [Israel, on the other hand, provides freedom of speech to its citizens and does not filter the Internet or jail bloggers or cyber-dissidents]. [6]

    Israel is not the only government to use the Internet and media to combat propaganda and misinformation. The United States used Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty throughout the cold war and continues to use it today (including on the Internet) to provide information, news and analysis of events throughout the world. [7][8]

    I encourage you to examine Israel as a model example of the democratic principles of free speech and open access to the Internet.

    [1] Iran Blocks Facebook To Silence Presidential Rival:

    [2] Foreign Policy: Iran’s Terrifying Facebook Police:

    [3] Is Iran Cracking Down On the Internet Again?:

    [4] Open Net Initiative’s country profile on Israel:

    [5] Open Net Initiative’s country profile on Iran:

    [6] Open Net Initiative’s regional profile on The Media Environment in the Middle East and Africa:

    [7] Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Wikipedia:

    [8] Web site of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty:

  3. Itzik Kaiser Says:

    I agree “Israel is one of the only nations in the Middle East that offers its citizens free and open access to the Internet and freedom of speech”