Meet the spies injecting Israeli propaganda into your news feed

Asa Winstanley — Electronic Intifada Sept 24, 2018

Sima Vaknin-Gil, now in charge of running Israel’s anti-BDS ministry, was once chief military censor. Click to enlarge

Sima Vaknin-Gil, now in charge of running Israel’s anti-BDS ministry, was once chief military censor. Click to enlarge

When Sima Vaknin-Gil took over as director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs at the start of 2016, a crucial fact went largely unnoticed.

For years, she had been a high-ranking officer with an Israeli spy agency.

This means that for the last two years a former intelligence officer has been running Israel’s global war against BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Her ministerial boss is Gilad Erdan, a key ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

They were last month revealed to have spent huge sums creating anti-BDS propaganda targeting social media and news media.

It should be a big wake up call to all defenders of free speech and human rights when a peaceful civil society campaign is targeted by spy agencies responsible for hacking, torture, kidnapping and murder in Palestine and around the world.

Military intelligence

While hardly a secret, Vaknin-Gil’s background was barely remarked upon in the media coverage following her appointment, which focused on her previous role as Israel’s chief censor.

An extensive search turned up just one article – a December 2015 interview with arms industry magazine Israel Defense – discussing her career in intelligence.

That interview was on the eve of her appointment as the top civil servant in what is effectively Israel’s anti-BDS ministry. It revealed she had spent more than 20 years as a spy in Israeli air force intelligence, rising to the rank of brigadier general – a position she still holds as a reservist.

During that time, the magazine stated, she worked “closely with US officials and the highest ranking officers of Israeli intelligence.”

In 2005, she started her decade-long run as chief military censor, a role that required regular coordination with Israel’s top spies and military leaders, including the head of military intelligence, the chief of Mossad and the chief of the army’s general staff.

“Flood the internet”

“I want to create a community of fighters,” Vaknin-Gil said soon after her appointment to the strategic affairs ministry.

She said she planned to “flood the internet” with Israeli propaganda that would be publicly distanced from the government.

 

 

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