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November 25, 2015 / 13 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘social media’

The Epidemic of Arab Terror and its Cure

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

When everyone began trying to understand the waves of Arab violence and terror hitting Israel, all sorts of explanations were proposed.

Personally, I’m sticking with simple bloodlust, as I’ve pointed out before.

Yes, there is the Islamic and Arab cultural baggage that fuels their fervor, but it’s always been bloodlust that sends them over the edge, moving from slogans to concrete actions.

But the other question is, what ignites this Sudden Jihad Syndrome, where repeatedly, a middle-class Arab from Jerusalem or other Israeli cities, wakes up and decides to stab a Jew or run him or her over?

I’m pointing out that the terrorists are middle-class Arabs for a reason.

The Arab scholar Bassam Tawil began looking into the family lives of these terrorists. He visited their homes and discovered that they didn’t live in poverty, they weren’t uneducated people, they weren’t jobless.

In Tawil’s words, they were “leading comfortable lives, with unlimited access to education and work.” They were from normative, middle class Arab homes.

Most were educated, popular, good-looking, had jobs, and their families are stable and financially secure members of their communities.

So what drives a normal, middle-class Arab young man or woman to suddenly wake up, take a knife out of his mother’s kitchen and get in his car to go kill Jews?

Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” has been on my mind for a while now (I don’t have a copy in front of me, someone borrowed it and didn’t return it). Gladwell talks about “epidemics” and what makes them happen – what is the impetus that “jolts” a stable situation out of equilibrium – in our case, a low level of violence, to almost daily stabbings and vehicular attacks by a particular kind of person, who might otherwise sit next to you on the bus or light rail on the way to work, or serve you in the store or restaurant you frequent.

What triggered my memory is a story Gladwell tells in his book of a suicide epidemic that hit Micronesia, also known as the Werther effect. It is a spike and cluster of suicides in a community that follow a well-publicized suicide.

Wikipedia describe it as:

The Werther effect not only predicts an increase in suicide, but the majority of the suicides will take place in the same or a similar way as the one publicized. The more similar the person in the publicized suicide is to the people exposed to the information about it, the more likely the age group or demographic is to die by suicide. The increase generally happens only in areas where the suicide story was highly publicized. Upon learning of someone else’s suicide, many people decide that action is appropriate for them as well, especially if the publicized suicide was of someone in a similar situation as them.

There’s another similar epidemic, now called the Columbine effect, where the killers idealize the original massacre, try to duplicate it, and more so, try to improve upon it to reach it’s idealized form as they imagine it.

I can’t imagine a more fitting description for what we are facing in Israel.

An Arab runs some Jews over, gets out of the car and then tries to stab the Jews, the Arab terrorist is then shot and killed, or alternatively, an Arab takes his mother’s knife, walks around, stabs a Jew, the terrorist is then shot and killed. The story gets elaborated on, that the Jews planted the knife, or the breaks failed. The video/photo/story is then posted to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Attack. Kill. Post. Watch. Repeat.

One of the proposed solutions in communities where these suicide epidemics hit, is for the local media to stop reporting the incidents, and that helps end the epidemic. Of course, in the age of social media, that’s damn near impossible, so the situation just feeds on itself, until some other factor changes, and it peters out.

Gladwell discusses three possible areas of change: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.

The Law of the Few: These are the trend-setters that first start an idea and the social connectors who get the idea out to their wider group of friends and followers.

The Stickiness Factor: This is the slogan. A contagious message connected to the act that keeps the act in mind. It could be some minor tweak to a well-worn message that suddenly gives it impact and for some reason turns it into an earworm that won’t get out of your head.

The Power of Context: This is what you see around you. People act and react based on the physical and social environmental cues around them. Our current situation fits this formula (and the previous waves fit similar formulas).

The Arabs see cool, middle-class Arabs suddenly getting up and killing a Jew using one of two easy methods, the youth gets killed, it gets posted on the internet by key social media connectors, and then widely distributed and watched – the Law of the Few.

The Arabs link the attacks to a slogan – in this wave’s case, the Jews are changing the status quo (which every time Netanyahu says that he isn’t, but uses those words, he triggers them even more). A second message has also developed which is “the Jews planted the knife” – The Stickiness Factor.

And finally, the Arab community hears repeatedly from their imams and in their mosques, on social media and at home, how the Jews are executing innocent Arabs and planting knives near their bodies, and they must defend Al Aqsa which the Jews are destroying. The returned bodies get a hero’s funerals. Other terrorists get streets and schools named after them by the PA government, and their jailed terrorists get healthy salaries. Those are the constant environmental cues around them, telling them that Arabs must take action against the Jews, and it’s OK and even heroic to do so – the Power of Context.

These three rules defining what pushes an act over the tipping point, turning it into an epidemic, can perhaps also provide clues on how to end the epidemic.

The Law of the Few: We have four “guilty parties” in this case, the people videoing the events, the people posting the videos to the “right” groups and pages, the social media platforms and the newspapers. You can’t have newspapers not report the latest terrorist attack, but perhaps they could be less gruesome about their reporting. Similarly, the popular social media platforms and video sharing platforms could be told to block and remove the videos. But alternative social-sharing platforms will just pop-up or become popular, if the current ones start restricting usage.

One could go after the people making and posting the videos, but again, it’s a widespread phenomena.

So we may be stuck with limited ability to affect this rule, but it’s worth looking into, nonetheless.

The Stickiness Factor: The message is the message. Proving it false clearly doesn’t work, and in fact even antagonizes them more, perhaps due to the cognitive dissonance it evinces.

We may be stuck with no ability to change their message, and the best move is to not even discuss it, or try to react to it – Netanyahu should not have even talked about the status quo or the Temple Mount.

The Power of Context: The environment is something we actually can change and affect.

If no terrorist bodies are returned, they can’t hold public celebrations.

If imams are inciting hatred and publicly repeating the message then isolate and arrest them.

If the messages are being transferred through social media and video sharing platforms, then identify those audiences most likely to be affected and temporarily shut down access, ranging from WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube, to internet and cellular access in specific neighborhoods and phones until things calm down.

When Israel put up the temporary wall in Jeruslaem and threatened to revoke residency rights from the terrorists and their families, that changed the environment, and caused those who understood what that meant for their lives to influence and control those family members more susceptible to the terror meme.

Israel disrupted the environment.

Israel non-violently forced the families to change the conversation. They still hate Jews, and they aren’t any less scared of dying, but the conversation now also says there’s too high a price to pay for heroically acting on the terror, and the rest of the family would suffer unacceptably.

A comparable price tag can be found for the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, which would similarly disrupt the conversational environment that provides positive context for the attacks.

We’re facing an epidemic of terror.

But now that we understand it, we have the tools to control it and keep it in check, if we’re prepared to use them.

Cabinet to Talk on Dealing with Radical Muslim Groups

Saturday, October 10th, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will discuss with the Cabinet Sunday on how to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Movement in an effort to restore calm and end the violence that has spread deep into the urban areas of Israel.

(An earlier version of this article incorrectly state that the Prime Minister would meet with radical Islamic leaders.)

Hundreds of policemen have been deployed through the country to prevent violence, Hundreds of Arabs from Kalkilya, adjacent to the Tel Aviv metropolitan city of Kfar Saba, approached the high-speed highway 6 (Kvish 6), where motorists were pelted by rocks this week.

The police closed the road for several minutes before restoring order. Part of Highway 444 near Netanya was closed after Arabs from the city of Taybeh rioted for at least the second time this week.

The repaid escalation of violence beyond eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria has clearly alarmed the country.

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced Saturday night that in addition to his attempt to deal with radicla Islamic violence, 250 reserve Border Police have been mobilized.

He stated: The three companies will reinforce the Israel Police in Jerusalem and throughout the country. An increased presence is a primary preventive and deterrent measure.

Security forces also are increasing surveillance over social media, which is being used as it was in the Arab Spring revolutions to promote violence.

The officer of the Prime Minister also said that the Prime Minister told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday that “he expects the Palestinian Authority to stop its wild and mendacious incitement, which is causing the current wave of terrorism.

The statement added:

Kerry said he is aware of the fact that it is Israel’s policy to maintain the status quo and not change it.

ISIS Threatens ‘Countdown to Terror’ in Rome

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

The Da’esh (ISIS) terror organization said Wednesday it has begun its “countdown” to terror in Rome.

The radical Islamist group organization posted photographs to ISIS-linked accounts on the Twitter social networking site, saying “waiting for the zero hour.”

The photos are taken in the streets of Rome with a paper bearing the message with the hashtag “ #Islamic State in Rome “ held up to the camera. Some are handwritten in Arabic, some are in Italian, saying, “We are in your streets,” the RT news site reported Wednesday. A number of messages on Twitter were posted in English as well.

One of the photos appears to have been taken at the Colosseum in Rome; others seem to have been taken in Milan. Some Italian Twitter users are claiming the tweets are fake and the photos are as well.

The Italian government, meanwhile, is taking no chances and has increased security around Rome, particularly at strategic sites and landmarks that could be targeted by the group. Security officials established a counter-terrorism task force months ago with Albania, following the “Charlie Hebdo” and Hyper Cacher massacres in Paris this past January.

Obama Rolls Red Carpet for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Run

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama appears to be rolling out the red carpet for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to launch her campaign for the presidency on the Democratic ticket in 2016.

Obama told reporters in Panama during a news conference at the Summit of the Americas on Saturday, “I think she would be an excellent president.”

The former first lady was a “formidable candidate” against him when they were both running for the Democratic nomination in 2008, he noted. The president added that Clinton will have strong messages to deliver if she decides to run.

Which she has.

Media have already been informed the official campaign announcement is to be made some time today (Sunday, April 12) with the release of an online video via social media – a “new type of campaign launch,” as Fox News noted – to be followed with a handful of small-group events in Iowa.

On Saturday, Clinton’s campaign team circulated a memo entitled “We Are Hillary For America” to her supporters listing guiding principles. The memo explains the aim of the campaign is to “give every family, every small business, and every American a path to lasting prosperity by electing Hillary Clinton the next President of the United States. This campaign is not about Hillary Clinton and not about us – it’s about the everyday Americans who are trying to build a better life for themselves and their families,” the memo reads.

It ends by telling supporters, “We are guided by Hillary’s bedrock values of hard work, service, fairness, and faith in the American Dream.”

That last is a statement that will undoubtedly face intense scrutiny from countless op-ed writers, bloggers and other columnists who have long memories of Clinton’s track record in other arenas.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is also expected to announce his intention to run for the GOP nomination next week, most probably on Monday.

Social Media War against ISIS

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

The U.S. State Dept. is using more than 300 of its social media accounts to monitor and try to counter the use of Twitter, Facebook and other sites to recruit people, mostly youth, into radical Islam and jihad.

“There are 90,000 pro-ISIL tweets or other social media responses every day,” State Dept. spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

“We’re definitely beaten by volume, but we don’t believe that ISIL is an invincible force on social media,” she added. “So what we’re working on now is aggregating and curating and amplifying existing content, so that means utilizing the 300-plus State Department social media accounts run by embassies, consulates, and individuals. It means also coordinating that with the social media accounts of other government agencies. It means expanding and giving more tools to the CSCC.

“We have a new head of CSCC who will be leading this effort to continue to improve our coordination and make sure we’re approaching this in the smartest, most strategic way. And as you mentioned, there are obviously best practices that we can learn from other countries. And part of this is not only sharing that but also determining who the right voices are.”

The good news from Foggy Bottom is that the experts understand they cannot use an American approach to counter a Middle East mentality.  Psaki said, “We certainly are not under the illusion that the United States is the best voice in many of these cases.”

If they had taken that approach towards the “peace process” long ago they would look a lot less dumb today.

Islamic State Recruitment of Americans Brings War to Home Front

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

More than 150 Americans have joined 20,000 others fighting for the Islamic State (ISIS) and pose a clear and present danger of terrorist attacks in the United States.

The threat of violence in the United States from ISIS recruits could be carried out by less than a dozen “uncoordinated and unsophisticated” attacks, National Counter Terrorism Center director Nicholas Rasmussen said at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday.

The Islamic State on which President Barack Obama wants Congress to declare war has grown into a monster that finally prompted the president on Wednesday to ask Congress to give him the power that he already has under the Constitution to unilaterally declare war.

Obama wants broad support, and his decision not to use the power under the Constitution and instead turn to Congress for support could make it difficult for future presidents to declare war at a time of emergency.

He has ordered Air Force strikes on ISIS by relying on a general Congressional authorization from 2002 for military operations against Al Qaeda and other terrorist threats, but the ISIS’ success in working through social media in the United States has brought the threat of war to the shores of the United States.

US-led global task force raids have killed and wounded thousands of ISIS fighters, and it seems that for every one that dies, 10 new ones show up for the funeral.

“The number of those seeking to go to Iraq and Syria is going up,” Counterterrorism Director Nicholas Rasmussen testified at the hearing.

He added:

We assess that at least 3,400 of these fighters are from Western countries, and that number includes also over 150 U.S. persons who’ve either traveled to the conflict zone or attempted to do so.

Homeland Committee Chairman Michael T. McCaul, a Republican from Texas, said the Islamic State “now controls an area equal to the size of Belgium” despite US-led aerial bombings, and “governs millions of people, draws on billions of dollars in revenue and commands tens of thousands of foot soldiers.”

“This evolving Islamic terrorist landscape has given rise to the dual threats of foreign fighters returning to the United States and homegrown terrorism,” he added.

McCaul cited ISIS social media for “inciting their followers and potential recruits to wage war…in their home countries, and it’s working.

“ISIS social media also gives step-by-step instructions on how to get to the fight and how to return,” he said.

The committee investigated profiles of American who have traveled or have tried to travel to join the ISIS and sis covered that they come various backgrounds without a single stereotype.

The list includes six teenagers from Chicago and Denver who were recruited online.

McCaul said he was “worried about our ability to combat this threat abroad, but also here at home.”

Facebook Appoints CEO for Israeli Operations

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Facebook has announced that it has appointed Adi Soffer-Teeni as the company’s CEO in Israel.

The current executive chairman of the grammar and spell-checking program Ginger Software, Soffer-Teeni will head Facebook’s commercial operations in Israel and help clients and agencies develop their marketing strategies at the social network. She will focus on building up the company’s team at its Ramat Gan offices, adjacent to Tel Aviv, and will work closely with Facebook’s Israeli team in Dublin.

“I am very excited to join Facebook and lead the company’s development in Israel. Millions of people in Israel use our services daily, connect with one another and share what’s important to them,” said Soffer-Teeni, 42.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/facebook-appoints-ceo-for-israeli-operations/2014/03/18/

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