|NIF Requests Probe into Prime Minister's Office Regarding Propaganda Activities against NIF|
|Written by Ruby Ong|
As questions mount about government defamation of the social protest movement and the New Israel Fund, NIF has asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to instruct the police and the Civil Service Commissioner to investigate alleged criminal conduct by the Prime Minister's Office.
According to an in-depth report in Israel's largest-circulation newspaper Yediot Ahronot, the Prime Minister's Office is suspected of systematically using public funds, manpower and facilities for political propaganda purposes by flooding websites with talkbacks criticizing NIF and the social protest movement.
Yediot Ahronot began its investigation following a survey by the Yifat media monitoring organization; the survey found that although 87% of the public supports the social protests, only 20% of online comments were supportive of the protest (out of a sample of 4,865 talkbacks), and 48% were extremely hostile towards the protestors. The survey found that the negative talkbacks used the same language and phrasing, suggesting that a small number of people were bombarding the web to delegitimize the social protest movement. According to a firm hired by the newspaper to determine the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) where the comments originated, many of the negative talkbacks were traceable to government offices.
In his letter to the Attorney General, attorney Gilead Sher, representing NIF, said that the findings of the article by Shahar Ginossar entitled "Talk Show" constituted "Defamation and libel, and in certain messages – incitement." He wrote that "It would appear that intensive and even organized activities were conducted from within government ministries on the leading internet news site forums, containing explicit political messages against whole groups, as well as especially offensive messages against our client."
The Attorney General was also asked to investigate charges that government offices worked with right wing political organizations to disseminate these messages and that in the words of Gilead Sher, "This may even amount to conspiracy to commit the above described offenses."