Last week ago I wrote about #OpIsrael the “planned new cyber attack against Israel”. My article ended by noting that “there will be plenty of Israeli geeks looking forward to the challenge – and quite capable of coming out on top”. I also tweeted my article to one of the Iranian backed anti-Israel hacker groups I mentioned and to one of the Anonymous news services. #OpIsrael was tagged as well. So to the anti-Israel hackers, don’t say I didn’t warn you that #OpIsrael was a really bad idea.
Sure enough, as #OpIsrael got underway, the official #OpIsrael site, www.opisrael.com, was hacked and is now playing Hatikvah.
The page was hacked by EhIsR and also contains a 20 point list of arguments in support of Israel (see below). Unlike the simple defacements that have typically targeted Israeli sites, this hack claims to have also destroyed all the data on the targeted server. This makes it a more serious attack, but in EhIsR’s defense this was effectively an attack on an enemy infrastructure in a war like situation where as the attacks on NGOs and civilian infrastructure are more akin to targeting civilians.
EhIsR is not the only pro-Israel hacker, let’s call them Zionist Hackers, having a field day today. Not all are taking such an ethical approach to choosing their targets.
On the Israeli side as well, some hackers are going after soft targets or sites that for humanitarian reasons should be left out of any online war. As part of the pro-Israel response sites like the Palestinian Authority’s Medical Service website and a commercial site in Egypt have been hacked. A group called ‘Israel Elite Force’ claim to have taken down a range of sites in Pakistan. There are no doubt many more, and the day is still young.
While the Israeli hackers clearly have the technical skills that match or surpass those targeting Israel, the public diplomacy skills are still somewhat lacking.
A 20 point list of reasoned arguments shared in a defacement of a site that will be visited by those seeking to attack Israel, is not likely to convince anyone. Anti-Israel defacements typically use images, often fake or from different conflicts entirely, that display blood, guts, and gore and claim Israel is responsible for it. In other words, they use not just a technical means of sharing a message, but also demonization of Israel and a strong dose of victim-hood to spread their message.
The Zionist hackers like EhIsR are responding not with hate but with reason. It’s a shame that for most of the world such an approach is unlikely to be effective.
A better approach may have been to set off code red sirens and pictures of school children rushing for cover. More effective still, ethically more questionable, would have been a focus on the impact of terrorism. Israel avoids the publication of highly graphic images showing the aftermath of violence. An effort is made to get on with life. Perhaps not sharing this side of the conflict is a mistake. It promotes Israel’s toughness and resilience, but in the international community that simply makes Israel a legitimate target for further abuse.
The message that these Zionist hackers are ultimate projecting is the same message Israel has always gives in conventional warfare. The message says, “we’re tougher than you think, and attacking us is a really bad idea”. It may help security, but more is needed to win hearts and minds. For now though, I’m sure they’re celebrating their success… or at least they will be when they are finally done.
Here are EhIsR arguments:
1. Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, two thousand years before the rise of Islam.
2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.
4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 CE lasted no more than 22 years.
5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.
6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.
7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem.
8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem.
9. In 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews. Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.
10. The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution, and slaughter.
11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.
12. Arab refugees were intentionally not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own people’s lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no larger than the state of New Jersey.
13. The Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won.
14. The PLO’s Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them.
15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.
16. The UN Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel.
17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel.
18. The UN was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.
19. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.
20. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like a policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
The attacks against Israel are continuing too, but with lots of claims, few if any significant sites appear to actually be down.
The attacks on significant sites look like they are either being stopped entirely or very quickly reversed with little to no impact. As predicted the hackers are succeeding in taking down multiple soft targets, such as shared hosting sites that get little or no traffic. So far #OpIsrael seems to be doing nothing more than stimulating Israel’s technology industry.
Meantime on twitter, @Op_Israel’s promotion of a meme “Keep Calm and Hack Israel” seems particularly appropriate as news spreads of Israeli raids rounding up OpIsrael hackers. While it would break the meme, perhaps it would have been better put as “Hacked Israel? Now try keeping calm…“.
About the Author: Dr. Andre Oboler is an expert in online public diplomacy and a technology commentator. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from Lancaster University (UK) and was a Post Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science Department at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
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