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Netanyahu: Soros behind Likud libel

27

The black hand strikes again. The criticism of the antisemitic left’s biggest funder is met with cries of “antisemitism,” which is despicable. George Soros has long said he grew up in an antisemitic household. He was weaned on Jew-hatred — that media depiction of him as Jewish is a vile deceit.

Netanyahu: Soros behind report of Likud sponsored bot network

A report on Monday revealed a vast network of fake social media accounts meant to promote Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied Monday’s report about his Likud party funding a network of fake social media accounts during the election campaign, accusing Hungarian Jewish billionaire George Soros and Blue & White alliance of being behind the “bot libel”.

“Today they outdid themselves…(with) the bot libel. Boldly, with interminable arrogance, they lie, they say you people speaking online aren’t real,” Netanyahu said before introducing one of the people behind the alleged fake accounts.

“I thought it was an April Fool’s joke, but it’s not. They say I don’t have support from real people, just from robots. They can’t accept that you, citizens of Israel, support me,” the prime minister added.

Netanyahu’s comments were directed at a report by New York Times and Yedihot Ahronot on Monday, which revealed that an Israeli watchdog group has discovered a network of hundreds of fake social media accounts used to wage an online smear campaign against his political rivals.

“It’s a fake investigation by a left-wing organization supported by (George) Soros. A million Likud voters are not bots,” Netanyahu continued.

Netanyahu has previously lashed out at Soros, accusing him of “continuously undermining Israel’s democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.”

Likud, Netanyahu continued at Monday’s press conference, is “almost the only party” not to run fake accounts, while Blue & White has “bots (working for it) in the media…(and) an army of bots online. They’re running the most deceitful campaign ever.”

Blue & White responded to Netanyahu after his press conference, saying “Never has there been a prime minister who lied and slandered so much.”

“He should explain where the millions of shekels that funded his [online] network of lies came from. And how did he pay without reporting it?” it added.

While Netanyahu was not directly linked to the network, the report said Twitter and Facebook messages promoting the premier and slamming his rivals were often reposted by leading Likud campaign officials as well as the Israeli premier’s son, Yair Netanyahu.

The network operates through manipulations, slander, lies and spreading rumors,” the report stated. “On its busiest days, the network sends out thousands of tweets a day.”

Since early elections for Israel’s parliament were called in December, the watchdog said the network’s activity intensified five-fold.

The profiles further ramped up their smear campaigns at times of scandal and other significant political events.

The network “is mobilized at climactic moments for Netanyahu, such as the announcement of the indictment against him,” the watchdog found.

The network appears to work in collaboration with one another; when one user posts a false rumor, a number of other users swiftly repost the lie.

Lies spread through the network about the ex-general include claims he sexually harassed an American woman– a rumor which surfaced the same day the Israeli attorney general was to announce his intention to indict Netanyahu in three separate cases on corruption and bribery charges.

Over 130,000 posts have been published by the network– all in Hebrew– and collectively have accrued over 2.5 million hits according to report estimates.

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