NSA, Israel, GVEs, Hasbara, and Gun Massacres in the USA and Beyond
Why would US leaders, lawmakers, intelligence and law enforcement agency administrators allow foreign intelligence and espionage agencies and their front companies unfettered, unexamined, long-term access to vast audiences of American children and young adults? And does not that question represent legitimate and vital concerns regarding privacy, public health, public safety, and national security?
It is a matter of public record that, through its intelligence agencies and their spin-offs and many front companies, Israel is actively and deeply involved with the NSA in collecting and organizing data on Americans. The information thus collected by the NSA is shared with Britain, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand as well as Israel, but Israel is the major threat to legitimate US interests. Israel’s equivalent of the NSA, Unit 8200, or Israel SIGINT National Unit (ISNU), is notorious for its spin-off companies that become private intelligence gathering and espionage operations under Israeli control, in much the same way that Mossad has long been known to use front companies for its operations. In 2010, the investigation of a Mossad assassination team that used fraudulently obtained and falsified European and Australian passports and funding provided via US-issued bank cards revealed that the corporation that arranged the funding of the kidon team, Payoneer, was itself funded by venture capital firms linked to Israeli intelligence organizations.
One of the firms, Greylock Partners, founded in 1965, “operates in a number of global centers of innovation, including Boston, China (Beijing), India (Bangalore), Israel (Herzliya) and Silicon Valley. … Current Greylock portfolio companies include Data Robotics, Digg, Facebook, Imperva, LinkedIn, Palo Alto Networks, Pandora, Picarro, Redfin, Workday and ZipCar,” according to the firm’s website. Greylock’s investment activities in Israel were launched in 2002 by partner Moshe Mor, who “served six years in the Israeli Army as a Captain in the Military Intelligence branch.” Unlike the CIA, which has an unfortunate history of ineffective and failed business operation covers, Mossad- and Unit 8200-controlled business operations are known for lucrative success.
That record is not unblemished. According to numerous published reports, one of Mossad’s most important early software trap-door sales operatives, Robert Maxwell, a media magnate who owned several major Mossad-controlled media outlets, came to a rather spectacularly embarrassing bad end when a Mossad kidon team assassinated him on his yacht off the Canary Islands on October 31, 1991. More recently, one Israeli spy working on US soil, Hollywood movie producer Arnon Milchan, is reported to have run as many as “30 companies in 17 countries on behalf of Israel” at one point. That Milchan was actively involved in espionage and arms dealing appears to have been an open secret in Hollywood, according to his own public statements.
A 2007 NSA secret report published by the Guardian (UK) on September 11, 2013, noted NSA’s “only true Third Party [counter-terrorism] relationship being driven almost totally by the needs of the partner [Israel].” The same Guardian article reported on a 2007 NSA document quoting a senior NSA official: “One of NSA’s biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like Israel. There are parameters on what NSA shares with them, but the exchange is so robust, we sometimes share more than we intended.”
If restrictions placed on the NSA negatively impact US counter-intelligence operations directed against foreign intelligence agencies, like Israel’s, those agencies will be quick to take advantage of any void created by those restrictions or by the withdrawal of US intelligence assets. Experienced observers and analysts have seen this happen before, and not so very long ago, when the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) became a front organization for Israel’s Mossad and began funneling confidential information about Americans to the Israeli government.
“After COINTELPRO, a still-controversial FBI operation to destabilize black nationalist and other groups in the ’60s and ’70s, the FBI, state and local law enforcement authorities were ordered out of the business of gathering information about legitimate political activity by American citizens. But in some major American cities, law enforcement files relating to legitimate and Constitutionally protected political activities that had been ordered destroyed instead found their way to the offices of the ADL, which quickly became a clearinghouse for such illegally obtained and illegally retained information.
“The absence of the FBI, state, and local police investigators in the field created a void the ADL rushed to fill, with remarkable success, by increasing its in-house ‘fact-finding’ assets and capabilities and developing enhanced working relationships with ‘official friends’—government officials, investigators, and intelligence officers. … The ADL favored many of its ‘official friends’ with expense-paid trips to Israel, where they met with and were entertained by friendly officers of Israel’s espionage and counter-intelligence organizations, Mossad and Shin Bet, thus creating a major conduit for the flow of sensitive and useful U.S. domestic political intelligence to Israel’s spymasters in Tel Aviv,” wrote this reporter in a Special Report published by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in December 1999.
Because broadcast media news outlets in the USA seldom if ever mention Israeli espionage in their news coverage or in their ever more rare investigative reports related to matters of public interest, most Americans are unaware of and unconcerned about Israel as an espionage threat. Nevertheless, Israel has long been at or near the top of the list of nations with active and robust intelligence and espionage programs aimed at the USA and is by far the single worst offender among nations with propaganda campaigns directed at American audiences. Israel calls its public diplomacy efforts hasbara, and it is well-nigh impossible to overstate the influence of Israeli propaganda on American audiences. Likewise, because Israeli leaders and their political and media operatives exercise truly extraordinary influence over them, the vast majority of US elected officials seldom if ever mention the Israeli espionage threat or criticize Israel in any way. Rather, currying favor with Israeli leaders, media operatives, and spies is seen by many as a fast lane to success in government service and longevity of tenure in Congress. The grilling of former Republican senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska by Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who filibustered his nomination in February 2013 is illustrative. Hagel, who “volunteered to join the United States Army during the Vietnam War, rejecting a draft board recommendation that he go to college instead,” received two Purple Hearts among other commendations during his service in Vietnam. The filibuster of a nominee for Secretary of Defense was unprecedented in American history. Hagel was eventually confirmed by a vote of 58 to 41. His nomination was controversial only because he was viewed by Israeli leaders and their political and media operatives in the USA, their lobby, as being insufficiently subservient to Israel and, on rare occasions, publicly unenthusiastic about pro-Israel US policy and legislation.
Few Americans recognize the breadth, depth, and scope of Israel’s hasbara or propaganda campaign directed at Americans through media corporations, their products, and media outlets. Newsweek‘s Jeff Stein reported in a December article titled, “Former NSA Boss Michael Hayden Can’t Stop Talking” on the close relationship between Michael Hayden, former Director of the NSA (1999-2005) and former Director of the CIA (2006-2009), and former Mossad chief Maer Dagan, writing that, “They were so close when Hayden ran the CIA, a well-placed source says, that the Israelis were afforded the unique privilege of bringing cell phones and laptops into the spy agency’s headquarters. Nobody but nobody gets to do that.”
Today, reports Stein, Hayden is, “comfortable in his expansive corner office in downtown Washington, with big windows overlooking a busy intersection only a few blocks from the White House. Along with other big guns at the Chertoff Group, the consulting firm headed by another all-everything, Michael Chertoff, the former homeland security secretary, he’s cashing in and having a ball.”
How should Americans evaluate their government’s counter-intelligence efforts against such an insidious, pervasive Israeli threat? Files released by whistle blower Edward Snowden have shed new light on a particularly troubling and under-explored aspect of that question. Among those files is an NSA document titled, “Exploiting Terrorists Use of Games and Virtual Environments” dated “20070108” but described by the Guardian (UK) as having been “written in 2008.” The document, published on December 9, 2013, limns a brave new world of espionage in the era of on-line video gaming. Taking the document at face value, it appears that seven years ago someone in or closely associated with the NSA became concerned that terrorists could exploit and were exploiting on-line video games and virtual environments (GVEs) that allow like-minded individuals to gather and communicate privately on-line. The unnamed author notes that video games offer “realistic weapons training (what weapon to use against what target, what ranges can be achieved, even aiming and firing), military operations and tactics, photorealistic land navigation and terrain familiarization, and leadership skills”; that GVE’s can “reinforce prejudices and cultural stereotypes while imparting a targeted message or a lesson,” and that, “one cannot discount the ‘fun factor’ involved – it is important to hold your target audience’s attention – and makes ingesting the message not even noticeable”.
The great danger inherent in such technologies, of course, and the aspect of these technologies that makes them so valuable to intelligence/espionage organizations, is their usefulness as means of covert messaging and manipulation of the behavior of individuals and groups of individuals who can be tracked and targeted on-line over time for espionage purposes, including the creation and direction of unwitting or Manchurian Candidate operatives and assassins. Think operant conditioning on steroids or behavior modification perverted by intelligence/espionage agency psychological operations (psy-ops) teams and taken to the deepest, darkest corners of the human psyche. This is work for which spook shop psy-ops teams once relied on short-range, low power FM radio broadcasts in order to covertly transmit programming created to manipulate their mentally unstable targets, work in which first-person-shooter video games represent a major technological advancement.
The author of the 2007 NSA paper on GVEs wrote, “We know that terrorists use many feature-rich Internet communications media for operational purposes such as email, VoIP, chat, proxies, and web forums, and it is highly likely they will be making wide use of the many communications features offered by Games and Visual Environments (GVE) by 2010,” and warned that the “NSA can’t even recognize the traffic, and therefore it is impossible to even say what percentage of the environment is GVE; let alone how targets are using the communications features of GVEs. However, GVEs offer a SIGINT/HUMINT opportunity space and more research is needed to figure out effective exploitation.”
Readers conversant with the history of video game technology will know that the technologies in use in today’s first-person-shooter video games, games that many mass murderers have used as training aids, have been in development since the 1990s. “By the late 1990s most [real time strategy] RTS games had native Internet support, allowing players from all over the globe to play with each other.” This, of course, puts the NSA document’s revelations regarding the NSA’s posture and policies regarding GVEs in a rather embarrassing light that should raise some serious questions about Gen. Michael Hayden’s leadership at the NSA. Apparently, Gen. Hayden was not much interested and perhaps not even aware of a need to be interested in GVEs while he was the Director of NSA, the primary producer and manager of signals intelligence (SIGINT) for the US government. Given that in 2007, NSA could not recognize the traffic, determine what percentage of internet traffic was devoted to GVEs, or see how [NSA] targets – terrorists or other intelligence/espionage agencies or their front companies – were utilizing the communications features of GVEs, Hayden’s and his successor Gen. Keith Alexander’s apparent indifference and ignorance with regard to these technologies prior to 2007 would appear to be well-nigh incomprehensible.
One might also ask why, today, Hayden is so popular among major broadcast and print news organizations as explainer- and defender-in-chief of the NSA. The answer, of course, is that currying favor with Israeli leaders, media operatives, and spooks in the USA is a fast track to success in the defense and security industries and associated media outlets following a career in government service – for those who view public service as a casino and retirement as an opportunity to cash in their chips and have a ball.
It is noteworthy that the NSA did not block the Guardian’s release of the GVE document, which Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman’s subsequent comments suggest it might have done on national security grounds. With regard to their government’s relationship with Israel, there is much about which their elected representatives and the vast majority of honest bureaucrats are unable to speak to the American people directly and plainly for fear of reprisal by Israeli leaders and their political and media operatives, aka the pro-Israel lobby. Those US officials who have been thoroughly corrupted by the powerful and influential pro-Israel machine, and many of those who might be described as duped and co-opted, are, of course, committed to keeping their own secrets as well as Israel’s secrets by adhering to a public narrative that is distinctly Israel-friendly.
So uncharacteristic of former CIA and NSA chiefs is Hayden’s media act that in his December Newsweek article Stein characterized Hayden’s public post-government-service defense of the NSA as, “So very un-spook-like.” Obviously, Hayden feels he has “a lot of ‘splainin to do.” Is the former NSA and CIA director worried that, should the truth become known, he might come to be widely viewed as the most feckless spy chief in American history, a figure of fun and ridicule, the Pillsbury Doughboy of espionage?
More information about on-line video games came to Americans courtesy of National Public Radio (NPR) on October 29, 2013, in an All Tech Considered segment, “How Video Games are Getting Inside Your Head – and Your Wallet,” by Steve Henn.
While the author of the 2007 NSA secret report on GVEs was concerned about terrorists who exploit video game technologies, Henn, who won an Edward R. Murrow Award for national investigative reporting on his way to becoming NPR’s technology correspondent, focuses on the effects of today’s video game technology on American children and their parents.
Henn writes, “… being connected to the internet … means that kids … can play with people spread across the globe. It also means that gaming companies can analyze how gamers play — each and every decision they make.
So when kids sit down with a game, they are actually sitting across a screen from adults who are studying them — and, in some cases, trying to influence their behavior in powerful ways.
Researchers in game companies tweak games to get players to stay on longer, or to encourage them to spend money on digital goods. They study gamers’ reactions. It’s become a science. And parents … often feel out-gunned.
In millions of families, video games are a source of intense love and intense hate because they can be so incredibly compelling. You might not believe that if you don’t play them, but you can get lost in a great game. They make you feel good.
And it’s no accident, says Ramin Shokrizade, the game economist for Wargaming America.
“The technology for this has gotten quite sophisticated,” says Shokrizade, who began his career in neuroscience and behavioral economics. “At this point, every major gaming company worldwide either has in place a fully developed business intelligence unit, or they’re in the process of building one.”
Today’s game design is dominated by research, he says. As we play games, game developers are tracking every click, running tests and analyzing data.
They are trying to find out: What can they tweak to make us play just a bit longer? What would make the game more fun? What can get us to spend some money inside a game and buy something?
“So as millions of people play, designers introduce little changes and get answers to all of these questions in real time [covertly, without the gamer’s knowledge – emphasis supplied]. And games evolve,” wrote Henn.
This reporter, who does not allow his son to play violent video games for the same reasons he would not hand any child a loaded revolver with the suggestion that he play Russian roulette, is astonished that so many American parents are apparently willing to allow their children to play violent video games widely known to have been used by gun massacre murderers for training purposes. Does not the enormous popularity of first-person-shooter video games, in and of itself, serve as compelling evidence that the flood of violent media product sluicing through screens large and small, a raging river of murder and mayhem, has desensitized large numbers of Americans to violence? Moreover, is the frantic, paranoid zealotry that so often characterizes the reactions of many American gun enthusiasts to proposals for background checks and restrictions on the sale of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines not persuasive evidence of a dangerous gun mania abroad in the land, yet another of the many negative effects of the surfeit of violent media product?
Here, one might pause to speculate that the media corporations responsible for creating and mass marketing GVEs knew in 2007 and, still today, know far more about the capabilities of their products than does the NSA. It would seem to be in the public interest for Americans and their elected officials to look closely at those corporations, take note who owns them, and to examine where their owners’ and managers’ political loyalties lie. We are, after all, talking about the most significant and alarming technological developments in the field of covert behavior modification and behavior manipulation in human history, the most lucrative — video games now generate more profits than do motion pictures — and the most dangerous of such technological developments. Are many of these companies using technologies developed by Israel’s spook shops? Might many of these companies be spin-offs of Israel’s Unit 8200 or Mossad front companies? Among the hundreds of gun massacres carried out by apparently deranged adolescents and young adult men in recent decades, is it possible to differentiate between those in which an obsession with violent media product was incidentally causal and those in which intelligence/espionage organizations covertly tracked and targeted individual gamers and influenced their behavior using GVEs for political purposes, such as inciting fear and animosity across political, social, racial, and religious dividing lines? Or instilling and maintaining in a significant number of Americans a pervasive sense of anxiety, fear, and anger? Should not every politically-related shooting by a mentally-ill individual be thoroughly scrutinized with regard to the shooter’s on-line GVE use? Why would US leaders, legislators, intelligence and law enforcement agency administrators allow foreign intelligence and espionage agencies and their front companies unfettered, unexamined, long-term access to vast audiences of American young people? And does not that question represent legitimate and vitally important concerns about privacy as well as public health, public safety, and national security?
Though few are asking publicly, these would seem to be important questions. To fail to ask and answer them would represent a grave counter-intelligence lapse, given that just one particular series of violent video games, Call of Duty, is reported by news organizations to have been used for training by at least three mass murders. Mohamed Merah, who shot dead seven people in France in March 2012; Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway in August 2012; and Adam Lanza, who gunned down 20 first-graders and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in December 2012, all trained for their killing sprees using Call of Duty series video games.
The casual observer might have assumed that Merah acted out of political, religious, or racial animus, given his background and his choice of targets, four of whom were Jews, including three children, but his wife told investigators that he was obsessed with violent video games rather than politics or religion.
“Miriam, who was married to Merah for 17 days before his death, said: ‘We had many religious conversations, but we spent our time playing PlayStation, including ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Need for Speed,’” reported Richard Hartley-Parkinson, in an article published by the Daily Mail Online (UK) on December 15, 2012.
Breivik testified in open court at his trial that his motives were political, and he told the court that he trained for his killing spree with first-person-shooter video games.
“Breivik said he spent up to 16 hours a day playing the game in preparation for the attack. He said he became a deadly marksman by honing his gun skills on the Modern Warfare part of the [Call of Duty] series. He even bought a special gun sight used on the game, attaching it to the hunting rifle he used for his deadly rampage…” wrote Hartley-Parkinson.
Lanza’s mental health issues have been documented and widely reported along with his obsessive use of violent video games. A March 17, 2013 New York Daily News article by Mike Lupica draws heavily on an officer’s comments about a presentation by Col. Danny Stebbins of the Connecticut State Police at an April 2013 conference of International Association of Police Chiefs and Colonels in New Orleans.
Stebbins spoke for a long time about the morning of Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary. Those in the room were told of first responders in Newtown who have since quit their jobs, so shattered were they by what they found when they got to the school that morning, when they saw dead teachers with their arms wrapped around the children they had tried in vain to save.
“The man to whom I spoke, a tough career cop who did not wish to see his name in the newspaper, was in the room when the state cop from Connecticut spoke,” said the man was well into his presentation when he began to talk of the spreadsheets that had been found at “the shooter’s” home.
“They don’t believe this was just a spreadsheet. They believe it was a score sheet,” he continued. “This was the work of a video gamer, and that it was his intent to put his own name at the very top of that list. They believe that he picked an elementary school because he felt it was a point of least resistance, where he could rack up the greatest number of kills. That’s what (the Connecticut police) believe.”
The man paused and said, “They believe that (Lanza) believed that it was the way to pick up the easiest points. It’s why he didn’t want to be killed by law enforcement. In the code of a gamer, even a deranged gamer like this little bastard, if somebody else kills you, they get your points. They believe that’s why he killed himself.” …
The fascination (Lanza) had with this subject matter, the complete and total concentration. There really was no other subject matter inside his head. Just this: Kill, kill, kill. It really was like he was lost in one of his own sick games. That’s what we heard. That he learned something from his game that you learn in (police) school, about how if you’re moving from room to room — the way he was in that school — you have to reload before you get to the next room. Maybe he has a 30-round magazine clip, and he’s only used half of it. But he’s willing to dump 15 rounds and have a new clip before he arrives in the next room.
The career law enforcement veteran paused again, and when he started speaking again his voice was shaking, like a wind had blown through it.
They believe he learned the principles of this — the tactical reload — from his game. Reload before you’re completely out. Keep going. When the strap broke on his first weapon (the AR-15), he went to his handgun at the end. Classic police training. Or something you learn playing [first-person-shooter video] kill games.
Despite the impressions of the Connecticut officers, the voluminous final, official report identified no particular motive for Lanza’s actions, according to a November 25, 2013 article in the New York Times, a publication that has long claimed to be the nation’s newspaper of record, but one which did not find it necessary to publish a news article about revelations that the NSA shares intelligence data on Americans with Israeli spy agencies. That news was not “surprising” enough to cover, in the opinion of the editors and publisher of the New York Times.
In a September 2013 interview, Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, which publishes and mass markets Call of Duty and other first-person-shooter video games, told Rob Crossley that he was pleased with a business strategy that the nation’s most accomplished consumer protection advocate, Ralph Nader, has accurately if bluntly described as electronic child molestation.
Yeah I don’t see that strategy changing, it’s been one we’ve had for a while and I think our slate has always been relatively small and narrower than most of our competitors. We’re getting good results with this strategy too, and I think that kind of focus is good for us creatively. It allows us to focus on the choices we make very carefully, and to ensure you’re working with the best development talent, and you’re making the right investments from a marketing standpoint in order to succeed.
I look at the continued momentum of Call of Duty, the explosive success of Skylanders, the potential of Destiny and I see this as the right strategy for us.
Asked by Crossley if his strategy lacked diversity and he was, perhaps, relying too heavily on first-person-shooter games, Hirshberg responded:
First-person-shooters have been stable for a number of generations now, and I don’t think that just because Destiny and Call of Duty are in the same genre that they are not diverse. I think they couldn’t be more different from one another. One is a deep, mythological sci-fi epic opera in space, the other is a gritty action movie that’s come to life. The games are very different from a pacing and design standpoint too, so I think there is diversity there, you just might not see it at face value.
Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Hirshberg’s Activision hired a high-powered Washington, DC lobbying firm to counter a potential legislative response to its lucrative business strategy and socially-destabilizing, violence-inciting products.
There can be no doubt that gun massacres and other violence attendant upon the widespread availability and use of violent, first-person-shooter video games as entertainment represent, at the very least, a major public safety challenge, one that US intelligence and law enforcement agencies and lawmakers have failed to identify for what it is and are apparently powerless to address effectively. Whether the larger entertainment industry and its subsidiary news organizations are complicit in the continuing epidemic of gun massacres across the USA is not a question – they are. The question is, What can be done to reduce the deluge of violent media product these industries pump into American popular culture with criminal abandon?
In two countries, Venezuela and Switzerland, governments have acted to ban completely the sale and distribution of violent video games on the basis of violent content posing an unacceptable threat to public health and safety. With regard to gun violence and crime, Venezuela and Switzerland are a study in contrasts. Venezuela experiences high rates of crime and gun violence, while Switzerland, despite the Swiss owning more assault rifles per capita than, for instance, Americans, and competitive marksmanship being the national sport, enjoys remarkably low rates of both crime and gun violence. Many other countries have banned some games, most for violent content but also for a variety to other causes including pornographic content. It is noteworthy that video game industry flaks and gamer site writers typically sneer at bans on violent content and blatantly misrepresent the nature of the problem that violent video games represent.
In the USA, those who attempt to start or encourage a substantive public discussion in television news venues about the horrific effects of violent media product find themselves silenced in short order. Less than 48 hours after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge raised the issue on NBC’s Sunday morning news program, Meet the Press. Ridge, a former Secretary of Homeland Security and a member of the panel that investigated the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech gun massacre, the nation’s worst, which left 32 victims dead and 17 wounded, is eminently well-qualified to speak on these matters. That did not prevent well-heeled corporate media operatives David Gregory and David Brooks shutting Ridge down almost immediately and dismissing his concerns. Brooks, taking on the role of propagandist for the video game industry, in defiance of decades of social science research flatly contradicted Ridge’s observation that young and impressionable viewers are put at serious risk by exposure to “the corrosive influence of a violence-oriented world, TV, video games, shoot-to-kill video games,” causative factors in gun massacres.
Attempts to restrict the manufacture, sale, and distribution of violent video games that all too frequently incite children, typically boys, young men, and mentally unstable adults to devastating acts of gun violence have been unsuccessful. In 2011, a California law was nixed by the US Supreme Court on free speech grounds .
“Leland Yee, a California state senator who wrote the law, said in a statement that ‘the Supreme Court once again put the interests of corporate America before the interests of our children,’ adding: ‘It is simply wrong that the video game industry can be allowed to put their profit margins over the rights of parents and the well-being of children,’” reported Adam Liptak for the New York Times on June 27, 2011.
“The video game industry, with annual domestic sales of more than $10 billion, welcomed Monday’s ruling,” wrote Liptak.
In the months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the entertainment industry fought back against a small number of news stories apparently crafted to persuade Americans that some in Hollywood recognize a sense of responsibility for the violence their products all too frequently incite. To address the potentially problematic public awareness of the entertainment industry’s causative role in gun massacres, Variety, the entertainment industry’s major trade publication since its founding in 1905, published a special edition titled Special Report: Violence & Entertainment (Winter Edition, Vol. 429, No. 10). The visually-impressive, glossy, 79-page report attempts to put an industry-friendly spin on violent media product and to place it in a larger, violent, but seemingly disconnected social context so as to effectively absolve Hollywood’s media moguls of culpability in societal violence.
Perhaps the report’s single most interesting and unintentionally revealing article is one authored by Variety’s Israel correspondent, Debra Kamin.
“Israel, well versed in terror attacks, has never had a U.S.-style mass shooting,” writes Kamin.
Apparently Kamin does not consider American-born Israeli physician and mass murderer Baruch Goldstein’s February 25, 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron to be a “U.S.-style mass shooting.” Goldstein, who used his Israeli government-issued, IMI Galil assault rifle to commit the murders, was an admirer of Rabbi Meir Kahane and active in the Israeli far-right political party founded by Kahane, Kach, a group classified by the United States and Israeli governments as a terrorist organization.
Kamin quotes an Israeli-American writer, editor, and cultural commentator, David Hazony, at some length. Hazony, too, is at pains to differentiate American and Israeli attitudes about guns, gun violence, and media violence.
“Israelis,” declares Hazony, “draw a very sharp line between cartoonish, U.S.-made TV violence and reality.”
But just who is responsible for most if not all of that “cartoonish, U.S.-made TV violence”? There is no mention in Variety’s Special Report: Violence & Entertainment that, according to a widely-respected Jewish-American author who among his many other accomplishments served as “a sharpshooter with the Israeli Border Police Civil Guard,” the industries that create, produce, market, advertise, promote, and defend lucrative, socially-destabilizing, violent US media product are heavily influenced or largely controlled by Jews.
It is true that Jews are represented in the media in numbers far out of proportion to their share of the population. … they make up one-fourth or more of the writers, editors, and producers in America’s ‘elite media,’ including network news divisions, top news weeklies and the four leading daily newspapers (New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal).
In the fast-moving world of media mega-corporations, Jews are even more numerous. In an October 1994 Vanity Fair [magazine] feature profiling the kingpins of the new media elite, titled ‘The New Establishment,’ just under half of the two dozen entrepreneurs profiled were Jews. In the view of the magazine’s editors, these are America’s true power elite, ‘men and women from the entertainment, communications, and computer industries whose ambitions and influence have made America the one true superpower of the Information Age.’
“And in a few key sectors of the media, notably among Hollywood studio executives, Jews are so numerically dominant that calling these businesses Jewish-controlled is little more than a statistical observation,” wrote JJ Goldberg, in his book, Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1996).
Variety is, after all, a propaganda organ for a much larger propaganda organ, an industry that year after year lavished its most prestigious awards and award nominations on 24, a long-running popular prime time American television series that ever so persistently attempted to “normalize torture in the public consciousness.” That particular effort by Hollywood producers to legitimize torture was so successful that, “in February 2007, the New Yorker magazine reported that U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan (dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point), accompanied by three of the most experienced military and FBI interrogators in the country, met with the producers of 24 to criticize the show for misrepresenting the effectiveness of torture as an interrogation technique, saying it encouraged soldiers to see torture as a useful and justified tactic in the War on Terror, and damaged the international image of the United States.”
Violent media product and its many various and well-documented pernicious effects on vast audiences, particularly young, naïve, and impressionable viewers, across human society represent an increasingly serious public health and public safety challenge. Research studies indicate that first-person-shooter video games are likely the worst offenders. There was gun violence in an American school every two weeks on average in 2013. And, on September 16, 2013, a shotgun-wielding video game addict entered the Washington Navy Yard, a restricted access military facility in the nation’s capital, where he gunned down 15 people, killing 12. This year has already seen three shootings in American schools. An eleven-year old boy firing a shotgun injured two fellow students on January 14 at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, NM. Two students were wounded in a shooting on January 17 at Delaware Valley Charter High School in Philadelphia, PA. A teaching assistant was shot dead on January 21 at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. Also on January 21, a student was shot while sitting in a car near the Widener University athletic center in Chester, PA.
America’s continuing epidemic of gun violence and gun massacres, a result in part of a massive counter-intelligence failure, is but the tip of an iceberg of espionage-related-and-facilitated, socially-destabilizing gun violence, death, and destruction, violence that is attendant upon and to some extent caused by the U.S. entertainment industry’s lucrative obsession with violent media product. The entertainment industry’s deadly focus on violent media product, much of it freighted with political and social messaging crafted to further the social, economic, political, and military agendas of industry moguls and Israeli leaders, is in large part a function of Israel’s robust overt hasbara and covert psychological operations campaigns aimed directly at credulous US audiences.
Israel’s long history of espionage against the United States government on Unites States soil, Israel’s long history of spying on Americans and listening in on Americans’ private conversations – even the communications of FBI counter-intelligence units and the telephone conversations of president of the United States – is largely absent from the thus distorted but crucial public debate about the NSA’s overreaching surveillance programs only because Israel-friendly US politicians and media organizations typically cover up or down play those crimes.
As long as the Israeli political and media machine wields such wildly inordinate and inappropriate influence over US politicians, political institutions, and what passes for popular culture and a public discussion in America, it is very difficult to imagine that the NSA, CIA, FBI and other US law enforcement agencies will find the guidance and political support necessary to address effectively these increasingly problematic espionage-related-and-driven public health, public safety, and national security challenges.
The single greatest danger in restricting the ability of the National Security Administration (NSA) to collect information broadly is that no foreign intelligence agency will necessarily be similarly impacted by such restrictions. Foreign intelligence agencies, especially Israeli intelligence and espionage agencies and their front companies, may well find their ability to act against the USA and its interests, and to act with impunity, substantially enhanced by restrictions placed on US intelligence agencies.
Michael Gillespie, in addition to his regular freelance work for Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, is also a contributing editor and the Des Moines, IA correspondent for The Independent Monitor, the national newspaper of Arab Americans, published by Sami Mashney in Anaheim, CA.