JIDF in JPost: Twitter, Facebook users show solidarity with QassamCount

Jan. 5, 2009
STEPHANIE RUBENSTEIN, Jerusalem Post correspondent, CHICAGO ,

As soon as Operation Cast Lead began to take shape just over a week ago, Dan Peguine started the program QassamCount, a system that updates users' statuses on Facebook with the number of Kassams that hit Israel.

Within the first three days, 10,000 people had donated their statuses to the cause.

Peguine first started a program counting Kassams about a week before the operation in Gaza began. He used Twitter, which sends users' statuses to all their "followers," to help people understand how often rockets hit the South.

"When you live in Tel Aviv and you read at the end of the day, '20 Kassams hit Sderot, Ashkelon,' you do not really understand what it means to live through this," Peguine told The Jerusalem Post. "So by having a feed that pops up every time a Kassam hits, I thought it would be a good way to convey this."

After recognizing the quick success of the Twitter program, to which 600 followers had subscribed in three days, Peguine decided to apply the same form to a larger social network. He partnered with Arik Fraimovich and set up the application on Facebook.

"I think that the Internet is a medium that needs to be used to reach audiences that are not usually aware of the situation in Israel," Peguine said.

"We hope to bring to the world's attention the fact that Hamas fires rockets at Israel daily," he said.

The Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF) is another group that has been active in fighting anti-Semitism and terrorism throughout the Internet.

"When it comes to bias against Israel, it's very easy for our enemies to be on the constant attack," said David, the spokesman for the JIDF, who asked that his last name not be published. He said he had received death threats since beginning his activities.

The JIDF formed in response to the second intifada in 2000 and functioned on a grassroots level, mainly through e-mail campaigns. The group then began operating on various Web sites to spread news about Israel and Jewish issues.

The IDF itself has also begun an Internet effort, making use of YouTube and a blog to post official army videos and information about the situation in Gaza. The site on YouTube had nearly 11,500 subscribers as of Sunday, and its videos had been viewed over 750,000 times.

"Throughout the years, we have tried to help shape public opinion with our own brand of Israel advocacy on-line, and it's very refreshing to see Israel taking an active on-line role," David said. "The videos on YouTube showing secondary explosions have had a major impact, as do the videos and photos of all the humanitarian effort."

Israel and the Jewish People have always faced bias in the media, he said, adding that anti-Semitism and a false perception of Israel as an aggressor have played a role.

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