By Mary La Rosa
In spite of constant reassurances about the term ``democracy'' one is rarely allowed to criticize the country of Israel without suffering some punishing consequence for it. If you are a Jew you may survive the accusations of anti-Semitism but if you consistently express yourself online in any dissidence about Israel's current politick, you will probably not be immune to cyber attack.
Israeli peace groups that I have contact with suffer from cyber attack collectively and individually and at the very least, receive massive spamming. One group that I have a particular association with is New Profile. New Profile is an organization in pursuit and practice of a more civil, less militarized society in Israel, with specific support being given to conscientious objectors who, in good conscience, can not and will not be part of the present IDF's agenda of terrorizing civilians in the Occupied Territories in order to collectively punish the past and combat the future crimes of suicide bombers, while at the same time grabbing more land for settlements.
One such famous conscientious objector noted for his pacifism and also his relationship to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is his nephew, Yoni Ben Artzi. While Yoni, a brilliant physics and math student who could better serve Israel at University, was being shuffled back and forth between military courts that seem to have real problems understanding the term, ``pacifism'', there was another Israeli teen calling attention to himself via computer crime.
His name is Ehud Tenenbaum. Ehud Tenenbaum is a young man who Benjamin Netanyahu noticed and noted at the time of Tenenbaum's arrest in 1998, as ``damn good ``. The rest of the quote has sometimes been edited but in this case needs completion. Netanyahu said of Ehud Tenebaum that he was was ``damn good .........and very dangerous''. (CNN Interactive: March 19, 1998)
Ehud was indeed a dangerous variable in our security system just prior to 9-11.
As U.S. troops, combated aircraft and warships gathered in the Persian Gulf February of 1998, Ehud Tenenbaum was about to be arrested for hacking into the Pentagon in what then US Deputy Defence Secretary John Hamre called, ``the most organized and systematic attack to date'' on US military systems. The attacks were played down and somewhat negligently reported in the media which seems to reflect the general negligence which allowed the attacks in the first place. The attacks exploited a well known vulnerability in the Solaris system, for which there had been a patch available for months. Hamre admitted grave concerns that the computer attacks and vulnerabilities ``might'' be related.
This case in the Israeli judicial system continued over the next few years and according to the reporting of Kevin Poulsen, ``The hacker known as `The Analyzer' was sentenced Thursday in Israel to six months of community service for a series of intrusions into the U.S. Defense Department computers that triggered America's first full-blown infowar false alarm'' (Security Focus, June 15 2001)Ehud Tenenbaum, then 22, also received one year of probation and a two-year suspended prison sentence that could be enforced if he committed another computer crime within three years. Additionally, the hacker was fined 75,000 New Israeli Sheqalim; about $18,000 U.S. dollars.
Another person arrested that year was Calldan Levi Coffman, of Carson, Washington who was the suspected leader of a group of computer hackers who broke into a network of NASA labs. US officials claimed that the attacks were serious, but that no classified information had been compromised. This conjecture, meant as a reassurance? Was mostly based upon there having been no indication of any organized campaign against the state and country.
According to a CNN report at the time of the crime, ``The Analyzer'' and his online companions, claimed not to have seriously been looking for secrets, but only wanting to prove weaknesses. He and his online buddies in computer crime, proved weaknesses in M.I.T.'s plasma energy labs and break-ins were then reported in a variety of military locations, including the Naval Undersea Warfare Center as well as NASA and various universities throughout the country. Tenenbaum had been mentoring two other teen hackers from California and the NASA investigators further linked Coffman as the leader of the group called ``ViRii'' which had taken control of a Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. After being apprehended, Ehud was inducted into Israeli military service, just like any other high school graduate.
Two years later, while awaiting various pleas and bargaining ,Tenenbaum was making busy as a consultant for the company 2Xs which further cooperated with an anonymous organization called, The Israeli Internet Underground. This company seemed to provide patriotic? service by convincing other companies in Israel how vulnerable you and your computer are while at the same time, offering you the protection your need in order to survive the attacks.
Later, BBC News (February 1, 1999) reported another teen with similar politics who was lauded for sending a virus to www.iraq.com under the pretense of being a Palestinian with a computer virus for Israeli sites! According to the BBC Online Network, Nir Zigdon had read about alleged anti-Semitic sites in a PC magazine and told authorities,
``I destroyed the site because it contained lies about the US and Israel and propaganda against the Jews''.
Nir claimed to have received 100's of congratulatory phone calls for his vigilante work.
Perhaps, if one is an Israeli Knesset member one can feel ``safely'' afforded the opportunity to speak out directly against Israeli government policies via ``democracy''. As an American citizen who does not wish her tax dollars going abroad in support of such pursuits as house demolitions and the illegal use of administrative detentions, I have been hated and spammed and recently, placed in a position where my pc could have been either damaged or hauled off as evidence for complaining.
In order to keep my computer, I have probably traded off my privacy.
Sound like exaggeration? or paranoia? Besides living in a country where government surveillance seems to know no distinction between terror and patriotism under the umbrella of an oddly called, ``Patriot Act'', there continues to exist groups of computer hackers and spammers intent upon vicious response to public outrage and political comment concerning Israel's occupation of Palestine.
Michael Gillespie in an article published by Media Monitors called, ``Israeli Computer Hackers Foiled, Exposed'' (September 2, 2002) wrote of Israeli cyber warfare professionals who target human rights and anti-war activists across the USA. In late July and August of 2002, they temporarily disrupted communications, harassing hundreds of computer users, and annoying thousands more. Some of the email aggressively connected to a web site that takes control of computers, turns the screen white, and makes it necessary to shut down and re-start. Some peace activists also reported that their e-mail addresses had been ``spoofed'' and their on-line identities appropriated for distribution of racist and ugly messages sent out in their name.
A year earlier in The Nation (October 10, 2001) Abby Aguirre wrote an article called, ``Palestine Activism Spammed'' and related current cyber techniques used to thwart any and all criticism about Israel . This article reported that most well known peace activists thought to be pro-Palestinian are routinely targeted along with their contacts. MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky, is one of the more recognized names.
Noam Chomsky's name is also associated with a small and clever program on the computer that generates random sentences to sound very academic but which actually make no sense at all. This has been termed a Chomskybot and it has evolved into a device used in one of the types of spam I have been receiving lately. My latest spam appears to be a Chomskybot spinoff.
With scripted and ``foggy'' cloning, Chomskybot is able to get through the usual spamming blocks. As far as I can fathom in my limited knowledge of Geek, Chomskybot is made generically and lets you specify the number of sentences in a paragraph to accept any ammount of phrase files. Chomskybot has in its potential, not only the ability to get through spam guards, but the ability to embed all types of messages which can (and does) distract a pc owner with fear and paranoia.
Much of my latest spam, has had Chomskybot style messages embedded with oddball phrases directly related to quotes from Jules Verne, HG Wells, and Charles Darwin which have nothing at all to do with the product being overtly advertised. Some of my spam appeared to be phrased with geographical IPS locations. While this appears more refined than actual cursing and virus attachments that I have received in the past for daring to write an article about the conscientious objectors, or Israeli nuclear objector Mordechai Vanunu, or the illegal use of administartive detentions, it is still disconcerting as an American citizen to receive this spam and be confronted and conflicted by an obligation to tell someone or be culpable or be set up as culpable. Privacy and credibility aside, we are presently at war and I do not take lightly any of the men and women who serve under US military command. Therefore, I was more concerned about the nature of this spam, more than the other spam I have received. And it has made me angry and upset.
This form of collective cyber punishment is a waste of everyone's time and energies. It is yet another bully tactic that has been going on for some time and the fact that it can elicit similar hateful responses from hackers outside of Israel, does not make me any less angry about it. Collective punishment and mass retaliations seem to be the Israeli standard for cyber warfare as well as ground warfare. Why must it be a standard for everyone? And what consideration is there in the energy spent on all of this being rerouted towards creative solutions re: the hideous situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories?
Last year much of the Israeli cyber wars were curtailed because of the concerted efforts of a computer administrator (and detective) from Iowa named Dr. Bassam Shehadeh. Soon after a cyber attack to his university in Iowa, Shehadeh tracked hackers to a West Bank ISP and, finally, to an Israeli phone number, while other computer professionals in the USA, along with some of the targeted activists themselves, quietly contacted management representatives at various IP addresses around the globe and notified them that their facilities were being abused.
I followed in example of this technique and sent my most unusual spam to Sun Technologies with regards to its ownership of iPlanetMessagingHotFix. I received answer but went further and sent it to individual computer scientists whose job at Sun is computer security. I also used my skills as a librarian and discovered that all of the spam phrases and quotations originated from four websites. Three of the four websites that I found ranked were sometimes the only reference, originating from online libraries that collect user information and the fourth, was a private website located in Israel.
All of this certainly distracted me. But it also succeeded in recharging my efforts with energies based upon the response to being bullied. I suggest that all effort be made to continue to get real truth to America and the international community at large. Besides the advantage that the internet gives us as, we need to further apply direct pressure to news medias who display slant or who ignore one group for another and also by making a more concerted effort through all medias to investigate violations into human rights issues in the Occupied Territories. Until such time as Israel makes good its ``good will'' especially re: a military that operates outside of legal jurisprudence and that victimizes civilians in such a way as to constitute what Amnesty International has most recently termed ``War Crimes'', we as Americans must stop funding terror.
Some really dedicated Israeli dissenters are my example and inspiration.
Devorah Brous is a diligent grass roots peace activist who frequently complains about being subjected to the continuous effort her government makes in order to suppress the truth that there are many in Israel who wish to make a sincere and lasting peace effort and in doing so are in direct conflict of their present government. Her computer and her daily coming and going have been constantly interrupted, especially against her most recent political effort, educating the public about the 100 Bedouin homes demolished this year by the IDF.
The bullying principle, whether cyber or in person, produces not just an individual outrage but a connection with others in their outrage. It is that connection that shares the higher value beyond anger and retaliation. That connection studies a situation and brings it forth into the light for all to see. Imagine if the efforts spent on suppression could be better spent in gestures of good will?
One interesting study that has come to me because of all this spam is my retrospective upon Israeli leadership and party ideals in Israel's government. I am very interested in that period when, by elected agreement, the leadership of Israel was ``shared'' . Do you suppose an Al Gore could possibly have shared an office with a George Bush, the way Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir shared? What better way to study the direct cause and effects of government policies as applied by the leadership of two distinctly different men.
For instance, not since the reign of Yitzhak Shamir has there been such an increase and obvious jump in Israeli casualties AND causalities with relationship to ....home demolitions of the Palestinian people:
Year Houses Demolished Israeli Palestinian Casualties Casualties 2000 0 4 5 2001 9+1 (partial) 102 9 2002 234+1 230 29
If there seems to be no actual intelligence in present authority that can look at such figures and consider the relationship of the one upon the other and the grave consequences upon two people.... then it is time for a change! Israel! Wake up!
Ethnic cleansings and continued abuses against human rights has PROVEN to not make for a safer or better Israel. Neither will a wall nor barrier protect those who live within the barrier while represented by those who would inflict terror upon Palestinian civilians. The statistics provided by B'tselem make it obvious and clear that the Oslo Accord and Rapprochement plans made for a direction towards a lasting peace. Since then, that peace plan has been discarded and replaced with a RoadMap going Nowhere, but taking everyone on a horrible and endless detour..
As an American citizen I wish to remove my monetary support at such a time when America needs my dollars and Israel needs to prove it worthiness and its good will and intentions towards the Peace Process.
Others like myself join with the growing minority in Israel who wish to live without fear from the reprisals of a bellicose nationalism enacted by the present IDF. As an American citizen, I am horrified by my country's lack of foresight in entering Iraq and I am not reconciled to the consequences and expendabilities which my government consciously elected to choose in its occupation of another country. In this way, I feel very much in empathy with Israeli peace activists.
Israeli peace activists are a presence and role model to everyday folk everywhere working daily towards a better means of existence and government; who do not wish to live within the repetitive cycle of violence and terrorism.
Imagine, again, if all of the effort and money spent on aggression and suppression was better spent in gestures of good will. There does not need to be a RoadMap or any map at all about Good Will:
Releasing political prisoners held with out charges under administrative detentions , especially children is such a gesture of Good Will.
Rebuilding 100 Bedouin homes is also such a gesture of Good Will.
Our voices will not be suppressed by hackers. Internet bullying no doubt causes distress and harm and can temporarily be disruptive as well. But it also represents how much we are really feared by those who would keep us quiet. That fear is a powerful worm, stronger than any computer worm or virus. It produces a greater and longer lasting harm unto itself and the Bully...and as a result...a virulent, more powerful ``worm'' is created and when cut up or separated, will regenerate itself and will attract more consideration of better values and concerns about Human Rights issues from more people.
Yoni Ben Artzi is a young man of courage and honor. He respects his heritage by properly addressing his dissidence. His mother and father and uncle and generations to come can be proud of him and of his commitment towards a better Israel. History will prove the worth and value of one such young man over the misconduct of others.