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Contained in the Professional-Israel Info Struggle

Contained in the Professional-Israel Info Struggle

2023-12-08 12:49:14

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, spokesperson for the Israel Protection Forces, speaks to J-Ventures funding fund on Oct. 10, 2023 in regards to the safety state of affairs in Israel and the way American supporters of Israel can help with lobbying and public relations.

Because the Israel-Hamas struggle started to warmth up in late October, Courtney Carey, a Dublin-based worker of the Israeli web site constructing firm Wix, posted the Irish phrases “SAOIRSE DON PHALAISTIN” — “Freedom for Palestine” — on her LinkedIn web page.

Inside 24 hours of Carey’s LinkedIn put up showing, Alon Ozer, a Miami-based investor, took a screenshot of the put up and shared it with a WhatsApp group of greater than 300 like-minded traders, tech executives, activists, and at the very least one senior Israeli authorities official. Ozer took care to notice that Carey labored for Wix.

Oded Hermoni, a tech journalist-turned-venture capitalist, piped as much as guarantee everybody that Batsheva Moshe, Wix’s normal supervisor for Israel and a member of the group chat, had been “on it since Sat[urday] evening.”

Moshe then chimed in to guarantee her friends that the difficulty with Carey had been “taken care of because it was revealed.”

“I imagine there will likely be an announcement quickly re our response,” she added.

Wix terminated Carey the next day.

Moshe was apparently conscious of Carey’s LinkedIn feedback, which also included a denunciation of the “Zionist ideology which promotes an exclusivist state,” earlier than Ozer flagged them within the WhatsApp group. 

The interplay nonetheless displays the heightened coordination amongst pro-Israel forces in Silicon Valley and the worldwide tech sector.

Following Hamas’ terror assault on Oct. 7, a unfastened community of pro-Israel traders, tech executives, activists, and Israeli authorities officers have stepped up their efforts to fight the slightest deviations from the pro-Israel script.

The WhatsApp group the place Carey’s case got here up serves as a form of switchboard the place the assorted impartial gamers in Silicon Valley’s pro-Israel group swap concepts, establish enemies, and collaborate on methods to defend Israel within the media, academia, and the enterprise world. 

Now we have obtained entry to hundreds of the group’s WhatsApp messages relationship again to mid-October, and an intricate spreadsheet the place group individuals request and declare duties starting from social media responses to IDF assist shipments. Individually, now we have seen a lot of video conferences charting greatest practices for “hasbara” –– an Israeli time period of artwork for “public diplomacy” whose detractors see it as a euphemism for propaganda — that supply a window into Israel’s public-relations struggle that’s not restricted to the tech sector.

J-Ventures Israel Emergency Fund spending [redacted]

309KB ∙ XLSX file


A redaction of the J-Ventures Israel Emergency Fund actions spreadsheet which removes personally-identifiable data of non-government officers. The doc was present as of December 4, 2023.


Struggle On Israel Motion Staff [Redacted]

15.6KB ∙ XLSX file


A replica of the J-Ventures Struggle on Israel Motion Groups, with personally identifiable data redacted.


Along with Moshe, the WhatsApp group contains distinguished Silicon Valley enterprise capitalist Jeff Epstein – a former CFO of Oracle – and Andy David, a diplomat-cum-venture capitalist who additionally serves because the Israeli overseas ministry’s head of innovation, entrepreneurship, and tech.

The WhatsApp group, formally named the “J-Ventures International Kibbutz Group,” is a challenge of J-Ventures, a U.S.-Israeli funding fund that calls itself a “capitalist kibbutz” — a reference to Israel’s historically collectivist farming communities. Hermoni, the WhatsApp group’s founder, is a managing director of J-Ventures, and David, the overseas ministry official, is internally listed by J-Ventures as a member of the “PR/Political Staff” that makes selections on messaging and lobbying. 

The WhatsApp group, spreadsheet, and numerous video discussions provide a uncommon public glimpse of how Israel and its American allies harness Israel’s influential tech sector and tech diaspora to run cowl for the Jewish state because it endures scrutiny over the humanitarian impression of its invasion of Gaza.

Conversations of this type should not uncommon for any essential curiosity group, however they reveal the diploma to which, within the tech-oriented hasbara world, the traces between authorities, the personal sector, and the nonprofit world are blurry at greatest. And the techniques that these rich people, advocates, and teams use — hounding Israel critics on social media; firing pro-Palestine staff and canceling talking engagements; smearing Palestinian journalists; and making an attempt to ship military-grade gear to the IDF — are sometimes heavy-handed and controversial.

“This can be a peek underneath the hood of how U.S. overseas coverage is steered with a purpose to produce coverage outcomes,” mentioned Eli Clifton, a senior advisor to the Quincy Institute for Accountable Statecraft.

Clifton famous that the White Home has strongly communicated an curiosity in limiting civilian casualties throughout the struggle, however seems unable to muster the political sources to alter the IDF’s present route.

“President Biden appears incapable of utilizing the one coverage instrument which will truly produce a change in Israel’s actions which may restrict civilian deaths, which might be to situation navy support that the US offers to Israel,” Clifton added. He partially attributed the shortcoming of the U.S. authorities to rein in Israel’s struggle actions to the “lobbying and advocacy efforts underway.”

Two contiguous screenshots from a Sunday, Oct. 22 dialog within the J-Ventures WhatsApp group relating to the firing of Dublin-based Wix worker Courtney Carey for her pro-Palestinian LinkedIn statements. The final participant is Wix’s Basic Supervisor for Israel, Batsheve Moshe, utilizing a form of Hebrew rebus deal with.

Simply days after the Oct. 7 shock assault on Israel from Hamas, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesperson for Israel Protection Forces, beamed right into a Zoom assembly to transient pro-Israel activists from Silicon Valley. The individuals included main enterprise capitalists and expertise executives, akin to Jordan Blashek, the President of America’s Frontier Fund, a nationwide safety funding agency backed by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. 

“There’s nonetheless combating ongoing in sporadic clashes and assaults by Hamas terrorists in southern Israel,” Conricus mentioned. Since he was chatting with the group on an unencrypted, open line, Conricus cautioned that he couldn’t reveal too many secrets and techniques. However, he added, the struggle would quickly escalate with an Israeli navy response and the individuals on the decision might help.

The IDF spokesman inspired these on the decision to help with “sustaining strain on legislators” in Congress and to work to affect these “in universities or media, or assume tanks, or in elite circles.”

Members of the hasbara-oriented tech world WhatsApp group have eagerly taken up the decision to form public opinion as a part of a bid to win what’s been described because the “second battlefield” and “the data struggle.”

It’s not arduous to see why. On Oct. 7, Hamas murdered an estimated 1,200 Israelis and overseas employees, and kidnapped roughly 240 individuals as hostages. The killing spree was the worst mass slaughter of Jews for the reason that Holocaust and a tragedy that instantly upended Israeli society. 

The bloodbath additionally prompted Israel to embark on an invasion of Gaza that has killed more than 16,000 Palestinians, most of whom are girls and kids and displaced greater than 1 million Gaza residents from their properties. Critics of the invasion argue that Israel is each failing to reduce the invasion’s impression on Palestinian civilians and to acknowledge that it’ll solely obtain safety when Palestinians have hope for a state of their very own. However Israel maintains that it should cease at nothing to eradicate Hamas, which embeds itself in civilian infrastructure.

That’s the place the efforts of J-Ventures’ hasbara WhatsApp group are available. The group, which additionally contains attorneys and people affiliated with the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has tirelessly labored to fireside staff and punish activists for expressing pro-Palestinian views. It has additionally engaged in a successful push to cancel occasions held by distinguished Palestinian voices, together with an Arizona State College speak that includes Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat who’s the one Palestinian-American in Congress. The group has additionally circulated a push-poll suggesting Rep. Tlaib ought to resign from workplace and supplied an automatic technique of thanking Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) for voting to censure her.

In some instances, officers from the IDF and different elements of the Israeli authorities have joined the trouble. David, the Israeli overseas ministry official and an investor in J-Ventures, has shared official speaking factors within the WhatsApp group.

One presentation that David shared made the case that Hamas deliberately stations its navy operations close to civilian websites as a part of its technique of deploying “human shields.” United Nations officers have discovered Hamas rockets hidden in a vacant college up to now, and certainly, the militant group’s huge, underground tunnel community endangers civilians all through the Gaza Strip. But the latest IDF doc makes use of broad classes to establish Hamas navy websites and Israeli targets, together with a “Hamas financial institution” situated subsequent to a Palestinian kindergarten.

An IDF presentation shared by Israeli Ministry of Overseas Affairs official and J-Ventures investor Andy David and dated Oct. 11.

Israeli officers have invested closely in shaping the narrative about its struggle on social media, viewing on-line discourse as a significant space for sustaining public assist. Final month, a spokeswoman for the IDF and the Israel workplace director of Bessemer Enterprise Companions, the enterprise capital agency the place Jeff Epstein is an working accomplice, collectively led a Zoom workshop for “high-tech leaders” on techniques for scoring “victories” within the public discourse on Twitter/X. J-Ventures has additionally raised funds for automated expertise to mass report tweets and for facial recognition expertise for the IDF to establish hostages. In the meantime, different Israeli officers have led comparable webinar classes on technique to form protection in campus newspapers and main media shops. 

J-Ventures has joined the broader U.S. Jewish group in supporting extra standard charity efforts in Israel. One J-Ventures impression report notes that the group raised cash for laptops for Israeli kids evacuated due to the battle and equipped psychological well being providers for these traumatized by the Oct. 7 assault. The chats focus on the pressing have to ship medical provides and funds to Israeli hospitals.

Ruby Chen, the daddy of Itay Chen, a 19-year-old Israeli-American IDF soldier who went lacking on Oct. 7 and is believed to be a hostage of Hamas, can also be a member of WhatsApp chat. The group has coordinated carefully with Chen to advertise his tv appearances.

However J-Ventures has additionally veered into an uncommon form of philanthropy: shipments of navy provides. The group has tried to offer tactical gear to Israel’s equal of the U.S. Navy SEALs, often known as Shayetet-13, and donated to a basis devoted to supporting the IDF’s undercover “Duvdevan” unit, which is understood for infiltrating Palestinian populations. Lots of the shipments supposed for the IDF have been held up at U.S. airports over customs points. 

The web house has been a focus of pro-Israel activism, far past J-Ventures. Lower than two weeks into the battle, the Israeli Overseas Affairs Ministry released 75 completely different on-line advertisements and spent hundreds of thousands of {dollars} buying house on platforms akin to YouTube and Twitter/X. The ministry, which operates a number of extremely lively social media accounts, has additionally reached out on to American allies, serving to information pro-Israel activism on social platforms.

“You guys are our frontline troopers,” mentioned Tamar Schwarzbard, head of Digital Diplomacy on the Israeli Overseas Ministry, on an October Zoom name posted on-line by Hasbara Fellowships, a nonprofit group that works carefully with the Israeli authorities to coach pro-Israel activists within the U.S. and Canada. She famous that the federal government wanted assist reframing the Gaza struggle and the general public messaging over the battle with Hamas.

“Let’s say you see some form of newspaper article in your campus information website displaying assist or solidarity with the Palestinians and never talking out in opposition to what is going on on within the Gaza envelope and in Israel,” she mentioned. “So that you need to make sure that, attempt to tag, as an instance, the president of the college on the put up you are placing out condemning that article.”

“Hamas does actually good PR,” continued Schwarzbard. “We have to change the narrative.” She implored the group to make use of targeted language. “We want individuals to see this is not only a run-of-the-mill resistance, freedom fighter group. That is one thing equal of ISIS.”

Schwarzbard instructed individuals on the decision to make use of sure hashtags when discussing the battle, akin to #HamasIsISIS, #IStandwithIsrael, and #IsraelUnderAttack. The technique would increase engagement and produce a big viewers to the pro-Israel trigger, she defined.

She additionally targeted on the anticipated public relations challenges posed by the struggle. Israel would quickly lose worldwide assist as its navy response in Gaza kills extra Palestinian civilians, famous Schwarzbad, who confused the necessity to refocus consideration on Israeli civilian deaths. “Attempt to use names and ages at any time when you possibly can,” she mentioned. Don’t seek advice from statistics of the useless, use tales. “Say one thing like, ‘Noah, age 26, was celebrating together with her associates at a music pageant on the holiest day of the week, Shabbat. Think about in case your daughter was at Coachella.’”

As with the efforts to punish staff and activists, senior figures in each Silicon Valley and the Israeli tech hall work carefully with the Israeli authorities to disseminate pro-Israel narratives on social media. On Nov. 22, Adam Fisher, the top of the Israel workplace of Bessemer Enterprise Companions, gave a presentation on how U.S. “high-tech leaders, traders, and entrepreneurs,” akin to himself, might assist the Israel Protection Forces win the “data struggle” on social media. IDF spokesperson Major Libby Weiss, who previously labored as the top of the IDF’s worldwide social media and because the official spokesperson to American and Canadian journalists, introduced in navy uniform to the group simply moments earlier than Fisher.

All through quite a few presentation slides full of screenshots of his personal tweets – regularly with the variety of likes and retweets circled in purple – Fisher gave examples of his methods for “criticizing and ridiculing” distinguished Twitter/X customers who have been sympathetic to Palestinians. On a slide entitled, “Ridicule works,” Fisher’s “ridicule” examples ranged from Rep. Rashida Tlaib, to Palestinian-American coverage analyst Mariam Barghouti and Silicon Valley enterprise capitalist Paul Graham. Fisher additionally claimed credit score for on-line criticism resulting in the resignation of Paddy Cosgrave as CEO of the expertise convention Internet Summit.

Slides from a Nov. 22 presentation given by Adam Fisher, the Israel nation supervisor of Bessemer Enterprise Companions, which defined to “excessive tech leaders” and an in-uniform spokesperson of the Israel Protection Forces how he successfully “ridicules” pro-Palestinian influencers on Twitter/X, together with Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and enterprise capitalist Paul Graham.

However Fisher additionally emphasised the significance of an occasional tender contact on social media that’s acceptable for defusing extra delicate critics and harnessing potential allies. The enterprise capitalist provided broad rhetorical methods for pro-Israel voices to interact on social media, figuring out three kinds of individuals price cultivating on-line. 

The primary group is what he dubbed “the impressionables,” who’re “usually younger individuals, they reflexively assist the weak, oppose the oppressor,” however “should not actually educated.” For this class of individuals, the aim is to not “persuade them of something,” however to “present them that it is way more sophisticated than it appears.” Seeding doubt, he mentioned, would make sure audiences assume twice earlier than attending a protest. “So it is actually about creating some form of confusion,” Fisher continued, “however actually, simply to make it clear to them that it is actually much more sophisticated.”

A second class, Fisher defined, is the “uncomfortable sympathizer,” a gaggle that “needs to assist Israel — they’re usually extra liberal,” however opposes the present authorities led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These sorts will be received over, Fisher mentioned, by stating “that we’re a multi-ethnic, various, democratic liberal society with rotten apples.”

The ultimate group consists of those that are “reflexively pro-Israel, form of ‘Israel, proper or incorrect.’” Members of this group “should not truly very educated,” in order that they wanted to be geared up with the suitable details to make them “more practical in advocating for Israel,” Fisher mentioned.

Fisher repeatedly famous the necessity to provide correct and nuanced data to rebut critics of Israel’s actions. But at instances, he provided his personal misinformation, akin to his declare that “anti-Israel” human rights organizations like Amnesty Worldwide and Human Rights Watch “did not condemn the October seventh bloodbath.”

Actually, Amnesty had condemned Hamas’ assault a couple of days after it occurred, detailing a long list of atrocities dedicated by the Palestinian militia and allied teams. “Hamas and different Palestinian armed teams flagrantly violated worldwide legislation and displayed a chilling disregard for human life,” Amnesty stated in its Oct. 12 report. Equally, Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed a dispatch on Oct. 10 that condemned the Hamas assault on Israel, noting that intentionally “killing civilians is a struggle crime, as is hostage taking.”

The efforts to discredit HRW stem instantly from its outspoken criticism of Israel’s file within the occupied territories and its navy conduct. An HRW report launched the identical day as Fisher’s remarks cited the World Well being Group’s conclusion that the IDF had killed roughly one little one in Gaza each 10 minutes for the reason that outbreak of violence in October.

Different efforts to defend Israel coming from Silicon Valley contain technological makes an attempt to censor critics and promote a pro-Israel message to form opinions in regards to the struggle. 

Gadi Hutt, senior director of enterprise improvement at Amazon-owned subsidiary Annapurna Labs, has helped the J-Ventures staff strain the Amazon on-line market to take away t-shirts and different merchandise that function the slogan, “From the river to the ocean, Palestine will likely be free” – a marketing campaign that was finally profitable, he introduced to the WhatsApp group.

Hutt additionally knowledgeable the WhatsApp group that he was main “a gaggle of technologists to implement a number of tasks aiding the struggle effort.” One of many J-Ventures paperwork lists Hutt as the purpose particular person for Canary Mission, a controversial group that blacklists pro-Palestinian figures on faculty campuses, to assist the group practice “AI fashions to categorise antisemitic posts from Twitter.”

Earlier this week, members of the J-Ventures group chat additionally internally circulated a petition for Netflix to take away the award-winning Jordanian movie ‘Farha,’ claiming that its portrayal of the actions of IDF troopers throughout the 1948 displacement of Palestinians constituted “blood libel,” whereas one other mentioned the movie was primarily based “antisemitism and lies.”

Final yr, the Israeli authorities revoked funding for a theater in Jaffa for screening the movie, whereas authorities figures known as for different repercussions to Netflix for streaming it.

Within the WhatsApp group, demand confronted some pushback. One member famous that regardless of the controversy over a scene within the movie during which Israeli troopers execute a Palestinian household, Israeli historians have documented that “such actions have certainly occurred.” The critique was rejected by different members of the group, who mentioned the movie constituted “incitement” in opposition to Jews.

J-Ventures paperwork and affiliated WhatsApp discussions additionally present assist for quite a lot of automated makes an attempt to take away pro-Palestinian content material on social media. In a single occasion, J-Ventures donated $19,531 to, an initiative that promotes itself as a web-based model of Israel’s Iron Dome missile protection system, promising that “offensive and malicious content material is intercepted right here.” Hermoni and Rami Lipman, an investor in Israel, are listed because the factors of contact for the contribution.

An Oct. 25 posting within the J-Ventures WhatsApp channel asserted that DigitalDome’s “latest achievements” included the censorship of Hamas’ channels on the Telegram communications platform utilizing Android telephones, allegedly because of Telegram being pressured to adjust to Google Play’s pointers. DigitalDome likewise touts numerous efforts to take away pro-Palestinian content material from Instagram and Twitter/X. In a single case, the positioning claims it had efficiently reported an account to a European Union authorized physique for posting movies with Hamas fighters.

The little-known web site is labeled by J-Ventures as a part of its hasbara, or pro-Israel public relations efforts, and is run in partnership with the Israeli fact-checking web site FakeReporter, which was based by Achiya Schatz, a veteran of the IDF’s undercover commando unit, Duvdevan. Schatz has had a curious profession trajectory, nonetheless; previous to founding FakeReporter, he served as communications director for the left-wing Israeli group Breaking the Silence. Breaking the Silence paperwork the tales of IDF veterans who really feel responsible about what they see as immoral practices during which they have been complicit throughout their navy service, and now advocate for peaceable decision of the Israel-Palestine battle. 

​When reached for remark, Schatz said that he began FakeReporter out of a real concern in regards to the impression of misinformation on the general public discourse. The nonprofit group is “dedicated to fact-based dialog, anti-hate speech, anti-violence … as a result of I imagine that the democratic house has shrunk to a spot that dialog nearly would not even matter anymore,” he mentioned.

Schatz vehemently denied the suggestion that his group is a part of the hasbara ecosystem or in any other case goals to assist Israel form its public picture.  “Perhaps individuals … assume I am doing it for various [reasons], and even to battle pro-Palestinian activists,” he mentioned. “I don’t.”

Within the WhatsApp group, J-Ventures additionally promoted IronTruthBot, a bot that automates the method of eradicating “inflammatory, false, and defamatory posts in opposition to Israel from all platforms.” The challenge was described as being developed by a gaggle of volunteers, receiving 700 reviews a day and succeeding in eradicating “a whole lot of inappropriate posts.”

During the last two months, dozens of people have been fired for expressing opinions associated to the struggle in Gaza and Israel. Most have been dismissed for expressing pro-Palestinian views, together with a writer for PhillyVoice, the editor of ArtForum, an apprentice at German publishing big Axel Springer, and Michael Eisen, the editor-in-chief of eLife, a distinguished science journal. Eisen’s offense was a tweet sharing a satirical article from The Onion seen as sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

The WhatsApp chats present a uncommon have a look at the organizing efforts behind the broad push to fireside critics of Israel and suppress public occasions that includes critics of the Israeli authorities. The scope is surprisingly broad, starting from investigating the funding sources of scholar organizations akin to Model Arab League, to monitoring an organizing toolkit of a Palestine Solidarity Working Group – “They’re verrrry effectively organized”, one member exclaimed – to working instantly with high-level tech executives to fireside pro-Palestinian staff. 

Generally it’s unclear whether or not the group’s members even have elite IDF and Israeli authorities connections, or are merely participating in idle bluster. Saar Gillai, chair of Liquid Devices and board member to a number of different tech corporations, mentioned he had handed the Palestinian solidarity organizing doc “to ‘associates’ in locations s tarting [sic] with 8….,” an obvious reference to Israeli navy intelligence Unit 8200. Unit 8200 is each an enormous communications interception operation — Israel’s tough equal to the U.S. Nationwide Safety Company — and an elite intelligence evaluation and cybersecurity unit that has change into a springboard for Israel’s booming tech startup sector. Gillai served within the IDF’s Army Intelligence Directorate, the dad or mum group of Unit 8200, from 1985 to 1992, in line with his LinkedIn page.

Batsheva Moshe, the Wix govt who organized the firing of Ms. Carey, moderated the Zoom name with Fisher and Main Weiss, and promoted the occasion inside the WhatsApp group run by Mr. Hermoni, the managing accomplice of J-Ventures

Ms. Moshe didn’t reply to a request for remark.

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The organized firing of Carey was one many makes an attempt by tech executives and different individuals within the WhatsApp logs to penalize pro-Palestinian speech. J-Ventures equally mobilized efforts amongst its staff to position strain on a number of college campuses in opposition to student-led occasions. On Oct. 16, a WhatsApp member Daniel A. Bock, an Arizona-based expertise lawyer, forwarded a message calling consideration to Rep. Tlaib’s scheduled look at Arizona State College for an occasion with Arizona Palestine Community, a pro-Palestine advocacy group. “Let’s name ASU and get this factor cancelled [sic]. Can we do that in someday?” Bock wrote, alongside contact data for ASU officers and the Scottsdale, Ariz. mayor’s workplace.

A number of members chimed in with approval for the trouble. One participant even instructed that they enchantment to the college’s “woke” aversion to exposing college students to uncomfortable concepts.   The participant drafted a pattern letter claiming that Tlaib’s look threatened ASU’s “dedication to a protected and inclusive surroundings.” The next day, ASU formally canceled the Tlaib occasion, citing “procedural points.” The WhatsApp group shared the information and celebrated the choice.

The WhatsApp group mustered comparable efforts in opposition to pro-Palestinian activists and writers. Lior Netzer, a enterprise marketing consultant primarily based in Massachusetts, and a member of the J-Ventures WhatsApp group, requested assist pressuring the College of Vermont to cancel a lecture with Mohammed El-Kurd, a Palestinian author for The Nation journal. Netzer shared a pattern script that alleged that El-Kurd had engaged in anti-Semitic speech up to now.

The hassle additionally appeared to achieve success. Shortly after the letter-writing marketing campaign, UVM canceled the speak, citing security considerations.

The professional-Israel organizing efforts to silence pro-Palestinian speech raises considerations with some observers of the battle.

“You’ll be able to disagree with critics of Israel, you possibly can oppose what they’re saying,” famous the Quincy Institute’s Clifton. “However that is an effort to constrain the talk in an underhanded method.”

The Basis for Particular person Rights and Expression, a civil libertarian group that has lengthy defended controversial speech on campus, likewise expressed its disapproval.

“FIRE is deeply involved by cancellations of talking occasions and retaliation in opposition to people for his or her speech in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian battle,” Aaron Terr, FIRE’s director of public advocacy, mentioned in a press release. “This censorship raises First Modification points when perpetrated by authorities actors like state schools.”

“In instances like these, with political tensions working excessive, it’s particularly essential that schools and different establishments whose very objective is to foster free expression facilitate dialogue as a substitute of shutting it down,” Terr added.

The WhatsApp group maintained a particular give attention to elite universities and white-collar skilled positions. Group members not solely circulated a number of petitions to fireside professors and blacklist college students from working at main legislation companies for allegedly participating in extremist rhetoric, however a J-Ventures spreadsheet lists particular process drive groups to “get professors eliminated who educate falcehoods [sic] to their college students.” The checklist contains teachers at Cornell College, the College of California, Davis, and NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus, amongst others.

Lots of the messages within the group targeted on methods during which to form scholar life at Stanford College, together with assist for pro-Israel activists. The tried interventions into campus life at instances hinged on the absurd. Shortly after comic Amy Schumer posted a now-deleted satirical cartoon lampooning pro-Palestinian protesters as supporters of rape and beheadings, Epstein, the working accomplice at Bessemer Enterprise Companions and member of the J-Ventures WhatsApp group, requested, “How can we get this political cartoon revealed within the Stanford Day by day?” Although Epstein famous, “I don’t know who created it or owns the copyright.”

On Saturday, Oct. 28, Jeff Epstein, an working accomplice at Bessemer Enterprise Companions who was beforehand the Chief Monetary Officer of Oracle and Google’s DoubleClick, requested the greater than 300 member WhatsApp group of the J-Ventures “capitalist kibbutz” how the group can get the coed newspaper of Stanford College to publish an anti-Palestinian political cartoon.

Neither Adam Fisher nor Jeff Epstein responded to requests for remark.

The highly effective roster of J-Ventures’ staff helped the group attain a far-flung viewers. Within the midst of its pro-Israel advocacy, the agency’s management reminded the WhatsApp group of their high-profile ties. The funding fund touted the truth that two of its portfolio corporations have been the one two start-ups to be included within the APEC CEO Summit in San Francisco with President Joe Biden and Chinese language President Xi Jinping. The CEO of one in every of these two start-ups, Adam Tartakovsky of Epic Cleantec, was additionally broadly described as the first lobbying connection between J-Ventures and California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The affect prolonged past the enterprise and tech world and into politics. The J-Ventures staff contains advocates with probably the most highly effective pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, higher often known as AIPAC. Officers within the J-Ventures group embody investor David Wagonfeld, whose biography states he’s “main AIPAC Silicon Valley;” Tartakovsky, listed as “AIPAC Political Chair;” Adam Milstein, an actual property govt and main AIPAC donor; and AIPAC-affiliated activists Drs. Kathy Fields and Garry Rayant. Kenneth Baer, a former White Home advisor to President Barack Obama and communications counsel to the Anti-Defamation League, can also be an lively member of the group.

Members of the group who’re concerned with AIPAC helped advise different group members on tips on how to strategy Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) a few assembly. Though the lawmaker was initially scheduled to handle the group over Zoom, J-Ventures repeatedly rescheduled, and finally canceled the occasion after members of the WhatsApp group objected to Khanna’s ties to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whom Saar Gillai, chair of Liquid Devices, known as “the final word anti Israel Jew.” Regardless of the group assembly by no means going down, as confirmed by Rep. Khanna, Hermoni shared a photograph with the group on Nov. 6 of the 2 having lunch exterior of an Italian restaurant in Los Altos, Calif.

J-Ventures additionally needed to cancel a deliberate Oct. 30 assembly with former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the founder of a multimillion-dollar tech startup. The in-person assembly with Bennett had been scheduled lengthy earlier than the Oct. 7 terror assaults, after which Bennett was not out there.

Reached for remark, Rep. Khanna confirmed that he met with Hermoni, however that the scheduled J-Ventures Zoom name was canceled. The congressman famous that he enjoys broad assist from the tech group. “Some have commented on my robust stance in opposition to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and appreciated that,” he mentioned. “I’ve tried to carry individuals in my district collectively and foster civil dialogue.”

A photograph of U.S. Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) and J-Ventures managing accomplice Oded Hermoni sitting exterior of The American Italian Delicatessen at 139 Important Avenue in Los Altos, Calif. Mr. Hermoni shared the image with the J-Ventures WhatsApp group on November 6, 2023.

The intensive donor community of J-Ventures additionally helped bankroll high-priced advocacy efforts. The group raised cash for 84 billboards in Toronto, Canada, a digital billboard in Las Vegas, and, “in key areas akin to Instances Sq. in New York and throughout London,” in line with their planning paperwork. One of many greatest coups by the J-Ventures staff was a profitable effort to safe funding to air a particular tv commercial on the Tonight Present, MSNBC, Fox Information, and CNN calling for the discharge of the hostages taken by Hamas.

Different fundraising efforts from J-Ventures included an emergency fund to offer direct assist for IDF models, together with the naval commando unit Shayetet-13. The leaked planning doc additionally uncovers makes an attempt to provide the largely feminine Caracal Battalion with grenade pouches and to donate M16 rifle scope mounts, “FN MAG” machine gun service vests, and drones to unnamed IDF models. In response to the planning doc, customs enforcement boundaries have stranded most of the packages destined for the IDF in Montana and Colorado.

We reached out to Hermoni with an in depth request for remark about J-Ventures and the WhatsApp group’s targets, together with the navy materiel shipments; the extent of Andy David’s involvement within the initiative; and what he sees because the group’s greatest accomplishments so far. 

Hermoni didn’t reply instantly. As a substitute, the morning after being reached for remark, Hermoni warned the WhatsApp group in opposition to cooperating with our inquiries. “Two journalists … try to have an anti semi[tic] portrait of our exercise to assist israel and reaching out to members,” he wrote. “Please ignore them and don’t cooperate.” he suggested. Shortly thereafter, we have been kicked out of the group.

A screenshot of J-Ventures managing accomplice Oded Hermoni’s warning to the members of the agency’s community after he was reached for remark.

A number of well-funded pro-Israel teams have led campaigns to strain main media shops to current pleasant protection of Israel over the course of the struggle in Gaza. 

The Britain Israel Communications and Analysis Centre, often known as BICOM, a distinguished NGO in the UK funded by Poju Zabludowicz, an actual property investor whose father based a distinguished Israeli weapons firm, has launched a number of media-focused campaigns. 

One present effort contains a letter-writing marketing campaign to UK lawmakers, demanding that they rein in protection of the battle by the BBC. An automatic kind letter supplied by the group denounces the BBC for, amongst different issues, using a journalist who “writes of casualties in Gaza” and blames “Western media for being complicit in Israel’s assault.” One other BICOM marketing campaign encourages residents of the UK to write down to Ofcom, the media regulator, to complain of anti-Israel bias in British media.

The J-Ventures group pooled efforts to information reporters from ABC Information and different main stations. In its checklist of motion objects, the group famous that “NPR is in search of private tales of how the ‘Mideast disaster’ is affecting individuals within the US” and known as for help with finding faculty college students to reply.

And at instances, the boundaries between journalism and advocacy have considerably blurred since Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault. One notable group is HonestReporting, a nonprofit that describes itself as a journalism watchdog dedicated to “reality, integrity and equity, and to fight ideological prejudice in journalism and the media, because it impacts Israel.” The web site for the group touts its “objectivity” and academic sources designed to filter out what it sees as anti-Israel media bias.

HonestReporting produced a report in November alleging that Palestinian photojournalists who captured footage of Hamas fighters throughout the Oct. 7 assault had coordinated with the fear group, making the journalists reputable targets for the IDF. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s workplace agreed, writing on X, “These journalists have been accomplices in crimes in opposition to humanity; their actions have been opposite to skilled ethics.” And Danny Danon, an Israeli cupboard minister, promised on X to “hunt them down along with the terrorists.”

HonestReporting drew some blood. CNN and AP minimize ties with Gaza-based freelance photographer Hasan Eslaiah after HonestReporting launched its report, and later, posted a photograph of Eslaiah getting a kiss from Yahya Sinwar, the top of Hamas in Gaza.

However the advocacy group’s “simply asking questions”-style report largely backfired. Reuters, AP, the New York Times, and CNN denied any prior information of Eslaiah or different freelancers coordinating with Hamas. A few of the shops went additional, condemning HonestReporting’s work for jeopardizing the protection of freelance journalists working in a struggle zone. The New York Instances, for instance, said in a statement, “We’re gravely involved that unsupported accusations and threats to freelancers endangers them and undermines work that serves the general public curiosity.” 

HonestReporting ended up on the defensive. Moderately than apologize although, the lead writer of the report, Gil Hoffman, a former Jerusalem Put up reporter who’s now govt director of HonestReporting, deflected criticism by asserting that his group had “raised questions” with out offering definitive solutions. Hoffman told Reuters that he accepted the information organizations’ denials and was “so relieved” to listen to them. He additionally condemned Israeli authorities officers for what he noticed as taking liberties with the report. 

When chatting with an viewers of fellow hasbara warriors although, Hoffman was extra celebratory, touting the report as an unadulterated success. In a Nov. 15 speak he gave to the Hasbara Fellowships as a part of its management briefing collection, Hoffman defined that his exposé “attracted consideration all around the globe” and made “the world keep in mind October 7, which that they had forgotten.” The discharge of the HonestReporting report suggesting that Palestinian journalists are literally Hamas operatives, Hoffman continued, shifted consideration away from the IDF struggle in Gaza and forged doubt on the reliability of reviews from inside Gaza. “You’ll be able to’t belief the journalists that come out of Gaza,” Hoffman argued. “They may have saved lives and as a substitute took footage that highlighted the achievements of Hamas.”

Chatting with the Hasbara Fellowships viewers, Hoffman additionally characterised himself as a foot soldier in a wider struggle on behalf of Israel, quite than a media watchdog primarily involved with combating bias, as its website suggests. “There are three battles happening proper now for Israel’s existence,” he mentioned. These battles, he defined, happen on the navy battlefield, on faculty campuses, and the one during which HonestReporting engages, “the media battlefield.”

Victory on the “media battlefield,” Hoffman concluded, “eases strain on IDF to go faster, to wrap up” and “goes a protracted option to deciding how a lot time Israel has to finish an operation.”

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