Israeli Cyber-Election Meddling Is Its Newest Industry

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by Eric Zuesse, Strategic Culture:

Those US and British politicians who are bashing Russia for foreign “election meddling” could use a more honest set of talking points. It is Israel, not Russia, China, or North Korea, that hosts a blossoming industry of cyber-election meddlers who operate from corporate offices in Tel Aviv, Cyprus, London, Washington, and Tortola. Most, if not all, of these firms, received their start-up funds from Israeli government-backed business development venture capital funds, some of which are solidly linked to right-wing American financiers like Robert Mercer, Paul Singer, Sheldon Adelson, and Donald Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

The US media, subjected to a constant barrage of pressure from the all-powerful Israel Lobby, has refrained from reporting that when it comes to provable election meddling, including social media campaigns to smear politicians, Israel has become the “go to” place for politicians to seek election victory through guile and deceit.

Israel “beta-tested” its social media manipulation software tools when, in 2006, it premiered “Give Israel Your United Support” (GIYUS) program and its associated Megaphone desktop computer article and commentary monitoring tool. The Israelis wanted to influence any bad press it received because of its 2006 surprise attack on Lebanon.

Pro-Israeli volunteers around the world, who became known as “hasbara trolls,” disrupted web sites take a number through various means. Options included the use of profanity on forums and chat rooms, especially toward the original poster of an item. But more than often, the infiltration took the form of posting extraneous information to detour the commentary thread away from uncomfortable subjects and promoting Israeli propaganda posted by dubious websites connected to the Israeli state.

Several Israeli companies decided to further monetize such digital dissonance by improving on Megaphone, mixing it with human intelligence tradecraft, and offering it to pro-Israeli politicians and political parties and movements around the world to affect the outcome of elections.

Wikistrat, Inc., along with Wikistrat Ltd., are related Israeli social media and election-meddling firms. Founded in 2010, Wikistrat combined the functionality of Facebook with Wikipedia in a platform called “Global Model” (GLOMOD). GLOMOD’s primary purposes is to manipulate Facebook and Wikipedia. Coincidentally, or not, Wikistrat moved its headquarters from Tel Aviv to Washington, DC, where it is conveniently located next to CNN’s Washington bureau.

Two other Israeli companies, both linked to Wikistrat through interlocking corporate executives, are PSY-Group, once headquartered at Trident Center in Limassol, Cyprus – although its operations were primarily conducted in Israel – and WhiteKnight, a social media information operations company, which operates from the Philippines and the British Virgin Islands.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, PSY-Group reportedly pitched to the Trump Organization a plan that was to rely on thousands of bogus Facebook accounts to conduct a perception management campaign against the Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton.

In the current 2018 US mid-term election campaign cycle, social media manipulation that combines Israeli lobbying interests with 2016-style social media attacks is being waged against Pennsylvania 1st Congressional District Democratic candidate Scott Wallace. Wallace is the grandson of Franklin Roosevelt’s Vice President Henry Wallace. The cyber operation against Wallace has given the Republicans a leg up in retaining a House seat in what is predicted to be a Democratic wave year. Wallace and his wife, who ran the Wallace Global Fund from 2003 to early this year, are under attack from the Republican incumbent, Bryan Fitzpatrick, and pro-Israel Democrats for his fund’s donations to groups that back the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel for its genocidal policies in the West Bank and Gaza.

The district Wallace is hoping to represent – a large portion of the Philadelphia suburbs in Montgomery and Bucks counties – has a large Jewish voting bloc, fodder for social media election meddlers. The fact that the grandson of a progressive hero of the Democratic Party could be attacked viciously on social media, ostensibly by “Democrats,” provides a frame of reference for the type of election-meddling seen before with Israeli meddlers and what can be expected in the future.

PSY-Group’s motto was “Shape Reality.” Part of their strategy was to create a false narrative that saw Russia blamed by the Western corporate media for US election meddling, when, in fact, it was Israel that was the culprit. It helped that PSY-Group’s partner, Wikistrat, could provide its “expertise” to its Washington next-door neighbor, CNN, where bureau chief Wolf Blitzer, a former public affairs chief for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, could ensure that Israel escaped all blame for the social media propaganda blitz that helped propel Trump into the White House. Other news organizations that have acted as dupes for Israeli election meddlers include Bloomberg News, Reuters, and the Associated Press.

PSY-Group used a network of shell companies, based in Limassol, Cyprus and Road Town, British Virgin Islands, to mask its financial flows and links to Israel. Many of those involved in manipulating the 2016 US election are either Israeli nationals or dual Israeli citizens of other countries. In almost every case, the election meddlers carry Israeli passports, something that provides them a potent “get-out-of-jail-free” card, when required.

After The New York Times revealed PSY-Group’s involvement in the 2016 campaign, like all intelligence fronts, it closed shop. The “Russia meddling” meme is a ruse. The guilty country is not Russia, but Israel. The guilty meddling leader is not President Vladimir Putin, but Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The hostile intelligence agency for the US electoral process is not the Federal Security Bureau of the Russian Federation, but Mossad.

Another Israeli firm tied to election meddling is Black Cube, which was founded by former Israeli intelligence officers. Its “services,” in addition to cyber-operations, also includes more “traditional” blackmail operations, including “honey pot” sexual entrapment. Cambridge Analytica, another election meddler that, like PSY-Group, folded up shop after its exposure by the press, also had significant links to the Israelis.

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