Foreign Policy Blogs

Repurposing Anonymous’ #OpIsrael


The hacker collective Anonymous this week launched a massive cyber attack against thousands of Israeli webpages–including sites for the Prime Minister’s Office and the Holocaust memorial museum Yad Vashem. Despite the efforts of hackers around the world to deface Israeli websites and the social media accounts of the country’s citizens, the cyber onslaught was largely repelled and any compromised webpages were quickly returned to normal.

Despite the massive failure of Anonymous’ #OpIsrael, the attempted cyber war provides several lessons on activism that both pro-Israel and anti-Israel factions should consider, especially if the United State’s new push for a peace deal gains momentum under the stewardship of Secretary of State John Kerry.

Organizing #OpIsrael required significant interest around the world and a platform for orchestrating the attacks. All that effort, at the end of the day, generated virtually–pardon the pun–no advances to the anti-Israel agenda.

On some level, Israel is benefited by all that energy and resources poured into an ineffective cyber campaign. Conversely, the hate towards Israel could have transformed into terrorist attacks–such as suicide bombers–on Israeli civilians, which would have had far more devastating impacts and repercussions.

But the level of organization and effort begs the question: What if anti-Israel activities were re-purposed to improve Palestinian lives?

To date, anti-Israel groups–including Hamas–spend considerable effort launching rockets at Israeli civilians, smuggling weapons across borders, training children to hate their neighbors, and organizing failed cyber attacks, among other things.

Meanwhile, Palestinians lack the proper infrastructure to improve their lives–including robust internal security, banking, healthcare, and economic systems. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad initially launched a movement to build some of these institutions, but his effort is still relatively nascent and has not progressed to its full potential.

Instead of focusing on terrorizing Israelis through rocket attacks and cyber warfare and in lieu of internal efforts to bread hatred among its population, re-channeling that energy towards constructive programs would have a far greater yield toward improving Palestinian lives.

Some may argue that the focus on destructive actions–such as terrorism–reveals that these organizations care more about hating Israel than helping the Palestinian people. That is assuredly the case with some groups, however other organizations should realize that their true desired outcome is not to harm Israel, but rather improve the health, education, economy, and lives of the Palestinians.

The next time an anti-Israel organization considers launching a rocket or cyber attack, perhaps that group should pause and think whether to embark on a counterproductive campaign to harm Israel or re-purpose that animus toward constructive efforts that will actually improve lives.

For those organizations that realize the value of productive actions, perhaps they will turn their own #OpIsrael into #OpPalestine.



Ben Moscovitch

Ben Moscovitch is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter and has covered Congress, homeland security, and health care. He completed an intensive two-year Master's in Middle Eastern History program at Tel Aviv University, where he wrote his thesis on the roots of Palestinian democratic reforms. Ben graduated from Georgetown University with a BA in English Literature. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. Twitter follow: @benmoscovitch

Areas of Focus:
Middle East; Israel-Palestine; Politics