August 15, 2013

Israel's covert commenters

The Israeli broadsheet Haaretz reports:
Prime Minister's Office recruiting students to wage online hasbara battles 
PMO and national student union to create covert units at universities to engage in diplomacy via social media; unit heads to receive full scholarships.

Hasbara is a Hebrew term meaning anything from "explanation" to "advocacy" to "propaganda," depending on your political alignment.

Although this Israeli system has been widely rumored to be operative for years, my first thought was that this didn't sound very cost-effective. After all, plenty of people, some of them quite talented writers, like to comment for free.

On the other hand, this should allow the Netanyahu government to systematically identify and evaluate its verbalist supporters at an early age, and then reward the ones it likes most.

For example, back in 1969, Richard Nixon and his chief domestic advisor, the brilliant Democratic social scientist Daniel Patrick Moynihan, had numerous long talks about how to detach some of Moynihan's New York intellectual friends from leftism. It didn't prove all that hard for Nixon and Moynihan to conjure neoconservatism into being: just flatter some of these poor ink-stained wretches that you care about their ideas, invite them to meet with high officials, arrange for sinecures for some, give others awards and advisory posts, and so forth.

Similarly, the CIA had long subsidized the magazine Encounter to wean European intellectuals away from loyalty to Moscow. Writers aren't all that expensive.

And it's even cheaper to do this kind of thing at the junior varsity level with students. It would thus seem like a clever idea for any political organization with some spare cash.

Another question is whether subsidizing online comments works on people who aren't in on the game. A recent study suggested that thumbs up signaling worked on outsiders, but not thumbs down. Still, I suspect that tossing out accusations of anti-Semitism is an effective method with Americans of implanting the idea: Better not go there.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jews acting clandestinely to further their own interests?

That sounds like some kind of ugly conspiracy theory.

Steve Sailer said...

Okay, that's worth ten cents. Now, just generate 39 more comments and you can buy a six-pack of Natty Lights.

Silver said...

"That sounds like some kind of ugly conspiracy theory."

Noxious, too. Never forget noxious.

Look, you've got to give these people credit, they are simply superb at what they do, true masters of their craft. The tactic has been wildly successful, and you really can't blame people for doing what works.

I tell ya, it really stirs my competitive juices knowing that when I'm taking on these guys I'm taking on the very best in the business; the best there ever was and, just maybe, the best there will ever be.

x said...

there's an article floating around online from a while back written by some guy who was paid money to work as an online shill for israel.

Whiskey said...

Its stupid like Obamas paying for comments or Putins ... they both do it. Israel will have security based on nukes and nothing else.

spandrell said...

China's govt has been doing this for years too. People call them the 50 cent party, for the money they allegedly get per post (half a yuan)

Anonymous said...

I want to congratulate Whiskey with this great news!

You're going to be rich buddy.

hardly said...

I believe I have seen this in action. If you go to reddit, which is perhaps among the avante garde sites of youth culture online, there is some really suspicious activity at times.
Much of this relates to the recent Egypt business. When Morsi was oppressing people, reddit was aflame with criticism. When the army has been slaughtering people by the hundreds, theere is complete silence.
This is quite atypical for reddit, since it usually hates military movements. Other religions are usually treated with a gentler hand than christianity. So to see outright continuous criticism of the muslim brotherhood, and esentially ignoring the massacres conducted by the army, is very fishy.

Steve Johnson said...

I was going to point out the obviousness of the Whiskey bait on this post but true to form he already posted some squid ink.

Anonymous said...

How many comments for a bottle of St. Bernardus Abt 12?

Big Bill said...

Sometimes it pays to cultivate the Prince and curry his favor.

Sometimes it helps to go after the people directly.

The Jews have been quite effective paying everyone from local mayors to Presidential candidates to go there and get the Jewish sales pitch.

Tel Aviv seems to be a regular campaign stop these days.

You do have to admire them for their perspicacity and diligence in getting the Jewish message out.

The Jewish message I would like to spread is the effectiveness of (a) border fences, (b) desert concentration camps for the indefinite detainment of "refugees", and c) paying desert banditos to intercept "refugees" before they even get into one's country.

Sadly, AIPAC is not going to facilitate those types of visits to Israel.

But we can spread the word nonetheless: Border enforcement works. Fences work. Follow the Jewish example. "Illegal infiltrators" can be stopped!

Whitey Whiteman III said...

The man in the black yarmulke, dude. Worthy fuckin' adversary.

Sam said...

Could you provide a link to your point about Nixon and Moynihan?

Sounds very interesting

Mr. Anon said...

Tell us, Whiskey, is the pay any good?

Unpersoned at iSteve said...

How much are they paying to delete comments?

Gottlieb said...

Some people must convince the other that they are good and do not do wrong things.
Artificial charm, manipulation, no atonement as the collective mistakes of the past, to deflect blame to others ...
Everything fits in the diagnosis of psychopathy.
Europeans today are really special, they are superhuman.
Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese are mentally archaic races that continue to value your old fashioned clanishness, even at the expense of moral values​​.
White Europeans and especially northern Europeans overcame their condition as rational animals (hybrid between the pragmatic rationalization ((aka, archaic)) and high-mindedness) and are the true humans. Of course we find, even among the two ethnic groups mentioned, people with these special traits, but it is evident that they are a minority among them.

Anonymous said...

painted ... by one unusually talented but unknown artist

He may very well be unusually talented but painting Rothko fakes requires exactly zero talent.

Anonymous said...

how does Wikipedia get all those nerds to work for free- that would be the real master stroke - somehow harness the energies of people for free- look at all the comments steve gets for example.

Auntie Analogue said...


Never would I reveal how much I'm paid for commenting here on iSteve.

(Wink-wink; nudge-nudge.)

Anonymous said...

Meme-poison can work both ways :)

sunbeam said...

I think a lot of people are doing this.

What I find interesting is the possibility (actually a certainty) that others besides nation states are doing it.

Corporations, causes, movie stars, speculators (remember that high school kid in Jersey trying to manipulate markets with rumors?), wealthy guys (Koch Bros for example) with dough and ideology burning a hole in their pockets, cranky guys in Mom's basement, you name it.

Just another way to spin, and boy do people like to spin.

james wilson said...


It's a terrible practice. You are not buying the best writers, you are buying those which can be bought. A young person's thinking cannot advance when it is being paid to defend. The comments become predictable, and banal. Indeed, there are many devotees of one cause or another who fulfill this role as volunteers already--trolls in other clothing.

But if everybody does it, it must be good.

redzengenoist said...

""That sounds like some kind of ugly conspiracy theory."

Noxious, too. Never forget noxious."

Dreamed up by vicious anti-semites.



Try to go to google and type "vicious anti". Browsing 4 pages in so far, all the same schtick.

jody said...

nothing new. lots of companies pay people to post on forums and sites to argue their point of view.

what i was shocked to read this week was that vietnam REQUIRES all college students to take courses in marxism, and if you major in marxism, you get a free ride courtesy of the government. now that is serious self interest.

after seeing that the US government is enlisting celebrities to brainwash, er, convince people that PPACA is great and they shouldn't resist, i now wonder if the US government will start awarding scholarships for vibrant studies degrees sometime in the future.

Anonymous said...

This sort of tone-deafness sadly seems to run in my tribe, and it reminds me more than a little of Cass Sunstein's retarded plan to undermine conspiracy theories with his own brand of Hasbara bots. I'm not surprised, but this sort of thing usually backfires.

http://www.belch.com/blog/2007/07/12/whole-foods-ceo-used-sock-puppet/


The traditional method of patronizing friendly artists, academics, and intellectuals has a better track record, and has the added bonus of subsidizing culturally useful activities. If more world leaders would content themselves with bribing sexually ambiguous Italians to lionize them in elaborate frescos, the world would be a better place.

-The Judean People's Front

Hunsdon said...

And whiskers pops up (shazam!) to say, "Steve, you're wrong as usual . . . . "

Art Deco said...

Your wretched excess of self-confidence makes you say stupid things. Norman Podhoretz did not spend 27 years of his life and Irving Kristol did not spend 36 years of his life critiquing liberal social policy because they were Jedi mind tricked by Richard Nixon and Daniel Patrick Moynihan (who got off the bus in 1981, btw). Neither did Seymour Martin Lipset, a far more consequential figure in social research than Moynihan. James Q. Wilson, Nathan Glazer, Hilton Kramer, Joseph Epstein, Edward Shils, Ronald Radosh.

Which of these characters was ever subsidized by the MacArthur Foundation or received (as did Irving Howe and as did Michael Walzer) a regular academic appointment? Do you really think that's worth less to people than some s*** as slot on an advisory committee that meets three times a year?

edjukated by wiki said...

"But we can spread the word nonetheless: Border enforcement works. Fences work. Follow the Jewish example. "Illegal infiltrators" can be stopped!"

Quite.

.

"how does Wikipedia get all those nerds to work for free"

nerds are inherently good peoples

gubbler of the church of reformed chechenism said...

What really kills me is the overkill part of this. I mean Jews and Zionists pretty much control all of US media and government. That isn't enough? Israel has to hire young people to spread Zionist stuff on twitter?

Anonymous said...

These sorts of shills are commonly referred to as JIDF (Jewish Internet Defense Force) on some of the seedier parts of the internet.

Anonymous said...

""That sounds like some kind of ugly conspiracy theory."

"Noxious, too. Never forget noxious."

And 'odious'. How about make it simple and call it odoxious or nodious?

Anonymous said...

White Europeans and especially northern Europeans overcame their condition as rational animals (hybrid between the pragmatic rationalization ((aka, archaic)) and high-mindedness) and are the true humans.

Of course this itself is a common example of the "pragmatic rationalization" endemic to moral reasoning in which one defines one's in-group as "true humans", "the elect", "chosen", etc.

There's no escape because it's fundamental to moral behavior. In fact, claims to not engage in "pragmatic rationalization" should be huge warning signs to others that one is engaging in self-interested hypocrisy and deception.

Anonymous said...

Pee Wee Bush?

David said...

Does anyone on our side offer back pay??

Anonymous said...

This explains Whiskey's source of livelihood.

Neal Murray said...

Steve makes a good point about writers being a cheap asset to purchase, being a low-pay/high-status job. Likely they are only going to get cheaper in the future, as the supply of semi-competent writers vastly outgrows the demand. The "bad old days" where debate was conducted by mean old sexist, racist, transophobes will be viewed as a pinnacle of intellectual honesty. The future belongs to helot scribblers rented by governments and corporations. The hasbara century begins!

Anonymous said...

What really kills me is the overkill part of this. I mean Jews and Zionists pretty much control all of US media and government. That isn't enough? Israel has to hire young people to spread Zionist stuff on twitter?

The US in general is pro-Israel, and key points of power and influence in the US and in Europe to some extent are pro-Israel, but Europe and most of the world is not that pro-Israel.

Steve Sailer said...

"You are not buying the best writers, you are buying those which can be bought."

From Netanyahu's point of view, is that a bug or a feature?

Seriously, a domestic goal would be to train people who like to write to stay on task, to repeat the approved talking points, and to expect to be rewarded for this.

Sure, it's terrible for the quality of intellectual discourse, but it's just the formalization of various trends in the contemporary world.

Svigor said...

You do have to admire them for their perspicacity and diligence in getting the Jewish message out.

There's really no way to (1) be honest, (2) pay attention to Jewry, and (3) admire them, without being (4) a racist.

Noah172 said...

""That sounds like some kind of ugly conspiracy theory."

Noxious, too. Never forget noxious."

Dreamed up by vicious anti-semites.


How could you all forget canard? AFAICT "canard" is Abraham Foxman's favorite word.

Noah172 said...

Still, I suspect that tossing out accusations of anti-Semitism is an effective method with Americans of implanting the idea: Better not go there.

Certainly it works with a lot of people. I've pushed back often. I have found that when I have written lucid, fact-citing, non-vulgar, not personally insulting refutations of name-calling hasbara, my (usually self-ID'd Jewish) interlocutors either give up and ignore me, shriek some more names and run away, or get me banned from that blog (e.g., I got booted from Jeffrey Goldberg's old blog at the Atlantic after I was flagged as "offensive", and Walter Russell Mead blocked most of the Israel-related comments that I submitted on his neocon blog).

Zionists/neocons (overlapping but not identical), Jewish and goyisch, use accusations of anti-Semitism like a magic incantation, or like kryptonite against Superman or garlic against a vampire. They are so accustomed to this tactic succeeding that they don't know how to respond to someone who fights back, but -- this is key -- who fights back intelligently.

Jewish hasbara debaters much prefer some dumb skinhead stereotype who just cusses and tosses out ethnic slurs, someone who can be easily dismissed and held up for mockery to the crowd. An opponent who knows his facts and can explain his views without personal invective -- boy does that flummox hasbarist(?) Jews (and, to a lesser extent, their goyisch toadies).

Silver said...

"How could you all forget canard? AFAICT "canard" is Abraham Foxman's favorite word."

Definitely. Foxman can't resist the "canard" canard.

Silver said...

"An opponent who knows his facts and can explain his views without personal invective -- boy does that flummox hasbarist(?) Jews (and, to a lesser extent, their goyisch toadies)."

It flummoxes them, but in all honesty I would have to rate them as having held up pretty well in debates I've witnessed at places like Foreign Policy. Of course, when I say "held up well" I'm not referring to the debate regarding facts, in which they're regularly clobbered. I'm referring to having created and maintained the impression that their opponents are morally suspect - not necessarily that they're "antisemites," but that they're edging perilously close, which is all the social warning necessary.

Anonymous said...

I think all of your ugly conspiracy theories are noxious, odious AND ... reprehensible.

Chubby Ape said...

""That sounds like some kind of ugly conspiracy theory."

Noxious, too. Never forget noxious."

Dreamed up by vicious anti-semites.

How could you all forget canard? AFAICT "canard" is Abraham Foxman's favorite word.


"Bizarre rant" is another popular phrase. Anyone saying something they don't like is engaging in a "bizarre rant".

Another stock word for them is "vile". Funny thing is that "vile" has also been used to death in France, as "immonde". Here's Marine Le Pen laughing at the worn-out phrase, "le retour de la bête immonde": "the return of the vile beast" [of Nazism, Vichy etc]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGi8o5k8ADk

Gottlieb said...

Anon@'' Of course this itself is a common example of the "pragmatic rationalization" endemic to moral reasoning in which one defines one's in-group the "true humans", "the elect", "chosen", etc..
There's no escape because it's fundamental to moral behavior. In fact, claims to not engage in "pragmatic rationalization" should be huge warning signs to others que one is engaging in self-interested hypocrisy and deception.''

No, did not I break this assumption.
Many people define themselves as belonging to superior races, ethnic groups, nations or peoples, but they do so based on the logic of facts.
I myself am latina-amurrican, in other words, despite being full of European blood and I'm mixed race, but I have no problem admitting the superiority of Europeans as a group (not as individuals, or as I made it clear I think I made it clear).
Individually speaking, there are also special people as an important part of european people in other continents. The only real difference between Europeans and non-Europeans is that this group is more concentrated in the first.
I keep wondering why we teach Asians who kill dogs and cats to eat is inhumane, unethical and anti aesthetic. I think they should already have in mind from birth what is beautiful and pleasant to be maintained and not eaten.
This is the pragmatic rationalization I speak.
Just as the excess of high-mindedness of Europeans is leading to extinction. Multiculturalism is too beautiful (for many) in the abstract-aesthetic concept to be destroyed.
The Europeans have a sense of aesthetics higher than in any other group and this can be proved eg by selection of hair and eyes.
A sense of aesthetics is more upright and have a creative capacity with higher quality.

Anonymous said...

No, did not I break this assumption.
Many people define themselves as belonging to superior races, ethnic groups, nations or peoples, but they do so based on the logic of facts.


Yes, you can distinguish and rank different groups according to different facts such as intelligence, aesthetics, physical strength, etc.

But that's not what morality is about. As Hume pointed out a long time ago.

Morality is fundamentally about the "pragmatic rationalization" of group behavior, modulating intra-group relations, defining and exalting the in-group vs out-groups, etc. This is what evolutionary psychology tells us. Read Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion" and Robert Kurzban's "Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind."

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/08/18/scientists-unlock-self-fertilizing-crops/

Sailer's curious curiosities said...

Rarely do you fail to live up to the reverse-Wiesenthal self-parody you perfected during the Iraq war, when you'd explain at length why the great majority of anti-Bush anti-war American Jews were actually colluding with Cheney, that notorious Hebrew. How many articles have been published in the past 3 years, in international-affairs weeklies as well as Conde Nast clifestyle mags, about the Water Army and the 50c Party? I'm gonna guess in the low hundreds; journalists love taking on any cultural phenomenon that seems to undercut their own bloviation franchise, however slightly. And yet when an Israeli biz reports on local interest in the same strategy previously mined by Media Matters and Justin Bieber fans, the guy can't contain his own fevered reflex response and rushes to breathlessly detail the scheming race's latest "innovation" and its various defects that his steel-trap Congressman-debating cranium has immediately discerned. You're the last great goy hope--how would we know about the nefarious plots that they publish in English at their online ad-supported newspaper sites? The deliberations of the monolithic Zionist C2 are just so arcane, like an SAT-squashing bank/college/music/alcoholic beverage-dominating version of Raymond Shaw but with millions of 'em. No one else notices these things, they're just not said! I'm out of order? The whole freaking system is out of order!

Anonymous said...

Norman Podhoretz did not spend 27 years of his life and Irving Kristol did not spend 36 years of his life critiquing liberal social policy because they were Jedi mind tricked by Richard Nixon and Daniel Patrick Moynihan (who got off the bus in 1981, btw).

They did it because they and their friends were getting mugged in NYC-and sometimes DC.

Anonymous said...

"Jews acting clandestinely to further their own interests"

How clandestine is it, if it is even on this website?

Since it is Israeli, not US Jewish, then you can really expect a spirited defense of (a) border fences, (b) desert concentration camps for the indefinite detainment of "refugees" (infiltrators), and c) paying desert banditos to intercept "refugees" before they even get into one's country.

So all good.