Hebrew University professor Elia Bnay Simon, who runs a blog containing scoops on Israel’s security – including recent ‘death’ of Mossad chief Dagan, is actually a pro-Syrian Lebanese reporter who disseminates black propaganda on Web
YNET News, Nir Boms, Niv Lillian
“Mossad chief Meir Dagan has been killed,” a number of Arab media outlets reported several months ago. According to the false reports, Dagan was killed in a mysterious car crash during a visit to Jordan.
The blog responsible for spreading this rumor, which made top headlines in several Arab countries, is called Filkka Israel and is run by Dr. Elia Bnay Simon.
Bnay Simon of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem is a highly esteemed academic and political analyst with excellent sources, especially on sensitive issues concerning espionage, top secret diplomatic initiatives, and facts concealed by the authorities and not reported by the mainstream media.
A quick glance at his blog reveals, for instance, the allegedly true number of Israeli soldiers killed during the military operation in Gaza, which – contrary to official figures – stands at hundreds.
Bnay Simon’s commentaries are regularly published and quoted by the Arab networks. In June 2008, his site published a scoop which revealed presidential candidate’s John McCain’s plan for a Mideast peace. According to Filkka Israel, the proposal, promoted by one of the directors of the Carnegie Institute of Science. Prof. Robert Magen, called for a Palestinian state to be established in Jordan.
The story was soon widely published throughout the Arab world, and Jordan’s state-sponsored newspaper al-Rai even printed a harsh editorial against the American proposal.
The man behind the legend
If you are wondering how come you have never heard of the famous doctor before, this is probably because he does not exist, and the Hebrew University has no one by that name on its faculty.
Robert Magen was also surprised when asked to comment on his “diplomatic initiative,” which obviously never existed, and denied having any relation to the notions it reportedly contained.
However, in Lebanon the doctor is well-known, albeit by another name: Bnay Simon is apparently a pseudonym for Khodor Awarkeh, who is a regular contributor to the pro-Syrian news websites Aksalser and Champress. Lebanese sources have already associated him with the Syrian Social Nationalist Party .
The Filkka Israel blog
Lebanese journalist Hussain Abdul-Hussain asserted that the Filkka Israel blog is part of a black propaganda campaign operated by a Lebanese-Syrian intelligence network. Awarkeh also gets a hand in spreading his ideas online from his Kuwaiti friend and administrator of Aldiwan site, Abdul-Hamid Abbas Dashti, a Kuwaiti Shiite linked by marriage to a senior Syrian intelligence officer
Black propaganda refers to the spreading of false material that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side.
Black propaganda is not a novelty in the electronic media, and has been in use since World War II, and possibly even before.
But while in the past, black propaganda required relatively complicated and expensive electronic equipment in order to be disseminated, such as high voltage radio transmitters, these days it is a very simple matter: All one needs to do is to purchase web storage space, register a domain, install a blog software and start publishing provocative materials. The rumors will soon take a life of their own and begin circling across the web.
This technique has already been adopted by states and organization that recognize the power of the electronic media.
Iran, who already censors hundreds of thousands of websites, has also succeeded in creating some new sites of its own, which claim to be run by sources in the opposition, in an attempt to confuse and embarrass the opposition in the country. In this fashion, Marze Por Gohar, an Iranian student opposition group that has its main base in the US, was surprised to wake up last month to find that a very similar website was set up with an almost identical name but in Teheran.
If there is a lesson that can be learn from all of this – it is that we need to be careful when we read; know our sources are and not jump to quick conclusions. But if you happen to find Elia, please do say hi!