The JIDF Edited Out of the Jewish Chronicle

We were recently interviewed for a piece in the Jewish Chronicle ("JC") of London. They were going to use it and even sent us a copy of what was to appear, but somehow it all got edited out and they didn't end up using any of it. This is fine as it is fully their decision. However, we don't like having our time wasted. The JC seemed to want us to focus on the things we have done against antisemitism and for Israel, but did not want to address what we have done against the promotion of Islamic terrorism. At a time Jews in London should be standing up to the Jihadist threat (rather than banning Geert Wilders, etc.), voices like the JIDF should be heard, and our efforts should be reported. Furthermore, in the past it seems the JC did not respect a verbal agreement with regard to the privacy of one of our activists and also misquoted them. From our understanding, when concerns about privacy and about being misquoted were brought to the JC, they were virtually ignored.

We maintain that very few others have done the quality and quantity of work that we have in this field and believe it was irresponsible for the Jewish Chronicle to edit us out of their article about "Cyberwarriors for Israel" - especially as it does the JC's readers a great disservice.

Here is the interview that was originally used by the writer of the piece (as you will see what was originally to appear in the article) but which was later abandoned:

THE JC: First of all, please could you give me some background on the history of JIDF? How did it come about?

The Jewish Internet Defense Force, (JIDF) is approximately 8 years old as a collective of activists and has operated under the name the "Jewish Internet Defense Force" since the massacre at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem earlier this year. At that point, the JIDF created a website ( http://thejidf.org ) and we went more public with our activities.

However, the JIDF has been many years in the making. There were five important turning points for our organization:

  • The Start of the 2nd Intifada in September 2000
The catalyst to the creation of the JIDF was the Second Intifada. While Jews were being terrorized daily in Israel, the propaganda machine of our enemies resulted in pressure from the U.S. and the international community that forced Israel to enter into unfeasible, unattainable, and impractical concessions of land in exchange for false promises of "peace." This policy of rewarding terrorism with land concessions (Land for "Peace") only encouraged additional attacks and worsened the security situation in Israel. This policy resulted in needless loss of life and inspired the JIDF to begin its email campaigns.
  • 9/11
On this day, it felt that all of us in the USA were living in Israel. As many JIDF members were living in NYC at the time, to say the attack on 9/11 "had an impact" would be an understatement. The JIDF email campaigns continued.
  • The disengagement from Gush Katif (Gaza) in August 2005
With Sharon's announcement of his plans for "unilateral withdrawal" in 2003, we intensified our efforts online. In 2005, many of those involved with the JIDF were outspoken against the disengagement from Gush Katif and rallied Jews and non-Jews to support those that have since been expelled from their homes in Gush Katif and North Samaria. The JIDF launched mass web-based campaigns and JIDF email campaigns continued.
  • The war with Hezbollah in Lebanon in July 2006
During this time, the JIDF continued our activities, which became more organized and urgent--especially as the JIDF began using Myspace as a way to show support for the IDF
  • The massacre at the Mercaz HaRav and the Facebook groups which went up to honor it in March 2008
The massacre at Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Israel and the online response, made us realize the need for more direct action. The JIDF became a more visible entity as the result, but ultimately it was the Facebook groups which sprouted to honor the perpetrator of the massacre that prompted the JIDF to be more brazen. The use of Facebook to blatantly praise acts of terrorism demanded an equally blatant response, as we noticed that many of our complaints to Facebook itself were ignored.

The JIDF began to focus on the internet companies like Facebook, YouTube, WIkipedia, Myspace, and Digg, for violations of Terms of Service as these companies have rules against the promotion of hatred, violence, and terrorism, so we expose those problems and express press our concerns to those companies directly.

THE JC: Please can you tell me a bit about the background of those involved - I know it has to be anon, but what kind of age and sex, where are you roughly based - UK, US, Israel, around the world?

We are internationally based and our members and supporters range in age from grade schoolers to senior citizens, all who share the same concerns.

THE JC: When did/JIDF you start using the internet as a tool for Israeli or Jewish activism?

Please see answer to first question. (September of 2000 with the rise of the Second Intifida)

THE JC: Why did you feel there was a need?

Please see answer to first question.

Also, we noticed a lot of content online which was hateful, promoting violence, or Islamic terrorism. This type of content is against the rules of many internet companies, and sometimes against international law. There are hate laws in many countries as well as laws against the promotion of violence and terrorism. The JIDF believes many of those laws and rules are being broken by many groups and individuals online and it is one of our jobs to expose and fight these problems.

THE JC: What kind of online activity do you do?

The JIDF is involved in mass email campaigns, we work to discuss the issues on many fronts, in various forums. We report our concerns of TOS violations to many companies. We advocate for Israel, and we work to unify our people who share our concerns. We write emails to the media, to the internet companies, to law enforcement, and to the government. We also have a major campaign involving YouTube, where we report hateful videos or videos which are promoting violence or terrorism. We work to keep things neutral on Wikipedia, as there are many anti-Israel and antisemitic contributors there. Wherever there are problems online with regard to Islamic terrorism and antisemitism, we are there facing them and doing everything in our power to address them.

THE JC: Do you ever meet in person? Is it full time work or a "hobby"?

Some of us meet in person. For those of us running the JIDF, it is full time work. Many of our members and supporters are busy students and professionals, so they do what they can, when they can do it.

THE JC: What kind of response have you had - what is the general reaction, what success or failures have you had?


We have had a very strong response. Many people agree with what we do, others do not. We have enjoyed much success as we have continued to expose the online problems to the world. We have also been a leading pro-Israel force online, and the success often comes in the form of inspiring someone new, who eventually becomes a solid soldier in our online army.

THE JC: Do you think there's anything inherently Jewish about this kind of networking?

The bulk of our members and supporters are Jews. However, we have made alliances with many Christians and Hindus who face the same threat. Jews are generally the canaries in the coal mine of civilization. If there are problems facing the Jewish people, it's typically indicative of greater problems facing the world at large. Hashem blesses those who bless the Jewish people and curses those who curse us (Genesis 12:3). Many people in the world are cursing us right now, online and off.

THE JC: Have you been inspired by the success of Obama's internet-based campaign?

No. We were at this long before he came along.

Thank you again for your interest in the JIDF.

Jewish Internet Defense Force
http://www.thejidf.org
Leading the Fight






The following is what the JC representative claimed would appear in the JC about the JIDF:
There’s similar technological know-how from the activists behind the Jewish Internet Defense Force, (JIDF) who felt a “need for more direct action” after the shooting massacre at Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem in March last year.

“We started to see sites like Facebook being used to praise acts of terrorism, and felt that they demanded an equally blatant response,” says 'Daniel', a representative of the JIDF, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity.

“We began to focus on internet companies like Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, MySpace, and Digg, contacting them about violations of Terms of Service. They all have rules against the promotion of hatred, violence, and terrorism, and we expose those problems. On [online video website] YouTube, we report hateful videos or videos which are promoting violence or terrorism. At [online user-generated encyclopaedia] Wikipedia we work to keep things neutral, as there are many anti-Israel and anti-Semitic contributors there. Wherever there are problems online with regard to Islamic terrorism and anti-Semitism, we are there facing them and doing everything in our power to address them.”

The group is staffed by full-time and part-time members worldwide, who range from school kids to OAPs. They refer to themselves in military language with a slogan, “Leading the Fight”, that emphasises the importance of succeeding at the information war which is increasingly based on the internet. “We are leading a pro-Israel force online, and success often comes in the form of inspiring someone new, who eventually becomes a solid soldier in our online army,” says Daniel.

There is plenty to keep the JIDF busy. On their own website, they list a range of groups and sites they are trying to close down. One of their campaigns has already led to 106 Facebook groups being removed. But on most social networking sites, members do not have to look far to find both anti-Semitic stereotype and anti-Zionist sentiment.
Our response:

This looks pretty good. There are some minor issues we hope you can accommodate though:
  • Can it just be "an anonymous spokesperson" ?
  • Minor issues with the following statements:
"One of their campaigns has already led to 106 Facebook groups being removed"
It is important to specify that these groups were in violation of TOS and were promoting hatred, violence, or terrorism. (Also, this was just one 35 day campaign which came and went a while ago, so the use of "already" doesn't seem appropriate as it makes it sound like we just started this, when we have actually had hundreds of groups removed which were against Facebook's TOS.)
"they list a range of groups and sites they are trying to close down"
We list a range of groups and sites so our members can report them to the companies as the content is in violation of terms and service. (We generally try to get the companies to take the needed action themselves.)
"But on most social networking sites, members do not have to look far to find both anti-Semitic stereotype and anti-Zionist sentiment."
We do not have to look far to find hateful antisemitic material or material which promotes violence and Islamic terrorism. ("Anti-Zionist" sentiment is nothing we specifically target.)

Thanks again for the opportunity and for helping to address these issues.

Jewish Internet Defense Force
http://www.thejidf.org
Leading the Fight



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