Monday, June 17, 2024

Israel seeking to influence US lawmakers to back Gaza war: Report

In a long-running social media campaign, Israel has been trying to influence legislators of the United States to support Tel Aviv's war on Gaza, according to a report by the New York Times.

Citing unnamed officials and documents, The NY Times reported on Wednesday Israel’s so-called Ministry of Diaspora Affairs has paid at least $2 million for the covert campaign of convincing American lawmakers to back the regime’s atrocities in the war-torn Palestinian territory.

The report added the Israeli ministry has hired the Israeli-based firm STOIC, a political marketing firm in Tel Aviv, to carry out the campaign.

The firm has for months been generating anti-Hamas and pro-Israel content across the Internet.

According to the report, the influence campaign, which started in October and is still ongoing on X (formerly known as Twitter), has used hundreds of fake accounts that posed as real Americans on X, Facebook and Instagram to post pro-Israel comments.

The accounts, the report added, targeted US lawmakers, particularly those who are Black and Democrat, “such as Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the House minority leader from New York, and Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia”, with posts urging them to continue funding Israel’s military.

“ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence-powered chatbot, was used to generate many of the posts. The campaign also created three fake English-language news sites featuring pro-Israel articles,” said the Times, which verified the influence operation with four current and former members of the so-called Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.

“The secretive campaign signals the lengths Israel was willing to go to sway American opinion on the war in Gaza,” it added.

Citing Meta and OpenAI, the report said the influence campaign has failed to generate a widespread impact.

Furthermore, FakeReporter, an Israeli misinformation watchdog, the fake accounts accumulated more than 40,000 followers across X, Facebook and Instagram, but as Meta said, many of those followers may have been bots and did not generate a large audience.

Israel’s bloody war machine has killed over 36,500 Palestinians since October 7, 2023. The vast majority of the fatalities are women and children.

The savage campaign was launched after Hamas carried out its historic Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the usurping entity in retaliation for the regime’s intensified atrocities.

Israel has additionally enforced a comprehensive blockade on the coastal sliver, severing the supply of fuel, electricity, sustenance and water to the population of over two million Palestinians residing there.

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