Far-Right elements target Shin Bet in electronic media war

Activists exploiting Web to circumvent restrictions on exposing security personnel.

Shin Bet 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Shin Bet 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It was a scene unimaginable 10 years ago: the head of the Jewish Division of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) caught on camera – his name and position spelled out at the top of the screen, and seen getting into a vehicle – in a freely available video clip.
It is a criminal offense in Israel to expose Shin Bet employees.
Clause 19 of the Shin Bet Law forbids it. But if video footage of Shin Bet agents or officials is hosted on Internet servers abroad, there is little security forces can do to remove the film.
It is the latest in a series of examples of how activists can circumvent national legislation using global web communications tools.
The footage, shot by an unidentified cameraman, was posted on YouTube last week, and was the latest shot fired in an ongoing media war being waged by far-Right elements against the Shin Bet.
Security personnel believe that they are being harassed and systematically delegitimized by far-Right elements as retribution for enforcing policies that confound their Greater Israel ideology.
Exposing the identity of Shin Bet agents is the latest modus operandi in a long-running campaign that has included demonstrations outside the homes of officials from the Judea and Samaria Police, state prosecutors, and senior IDF officers from Central Command and the Civil Administration, security forces believe.
The demonstrations have often gotten personal and have resulted in the arrest of activists for holding unplanned demonstrations.
Last week, another blow was struck against Shin Bet anonymity, when audio recordings of an alleged Shin Bet agent posing as a far-right extremist and urging alleged Jewish terrorist Haim Pearlman to murder the head of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch, Raed Salah, were aired on Channel 2 news on Thursday night.
The man’s voice was distorted on the Channel 2 broadcast, but a YouTube clip carried the same recording without changing the man’s voice, violating Israeli law.
No one has taken responsibility for the video of the Shin Bet Jewish Division head. But in the right-wing community, which has worked hard to record the enforcement actions of the security forces in the settlements, there is support for publicizing such videos.
Nadia Matar of Women in Green, whose group has participated in demonstrations outside officials’ homes, said when asked about the video of Jewish Division of the Shin Bet that someone was lucky enough to have caught the official on camera.
“He has to know that there is a price to stabbing Jewish brothers in the back. So I am happy that whoever did this, did it.
“Maybe it will make other people think twice,” she said.
“People have to be loyal or bear the consequences.”
Matar added that if she heard her neighbor was harassing people, she would not say hello to him, nor would she invite him for a Shabbat meal.
She recalled that before the 2005 disengagement she had written a letter to the then-head of the Disengagement Authority, Yonatan Bassi, in which she had accused him of being a far more terrible version of the Judenrat.
Increasingly, settlers and right-wing activists are on hand with cameras when security forces disperse right-wing protests or enter settlements and outposts to enforce building regulations.
In many cases, photographs and videos of these actions have been sent by settlers to media outlets and posted on YouTube. In some instances settlers have been able to record acts of violence by security forces against the protesters.
On Monday, the Samaria Citizens’ Committee sent out a press release in which it declared the camera its new weapon. Last week it also posted a short video on YouTube about how the camera is an essential tool in their battle on behalf of the settlements.
For the last three months, the Samaria Citizens’ Committee has held training sessions to help residents of the settlements learn how to use photographs and video to capture any actions against them by the IDF, Border Police and Palestinians.
Committee head Benny Katzover said the Right had something to learn from the Left, which has made effective use of photographs and videos to record IDF abuses against Palestinians.
“The right picture at the right time” can make the point more effectively than any story settlers might tell, Katzover said.
Catching abusive action by the IDF and Border Police on camera will also increase the chances of holding the officers accountable for their actions, said Katzover.