What to take from Anonymous’ Attack on Israel

When all is said and done, the ‘big attack’ by members of the internet hacker group Anonymous against Israeli websites was barely a blip on the radar screen, hardly worthy of notice. Some sites were hacked, even government sites. Some sites were victims of Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS, attacks. But in the majority of major or government sites the damage was minor and the sites were up and running again quickly. Competent cyber-warfare should be capable of wreaking unprecedented havoc on a nation’s infrastructure. Anonymous has proven that it is “childish” in its capabilities, in the words of Guy Mizrahi, an employee of the Israeli cyber-security firm Cyberia.

But despite the non-impact of the Anonymous attack, there is one important lesson to take from it.

Anonymous attacked the website of Yad Vashem, Israel’s famous Holocaust Museum, the day before Israel was to commemorate its Holocaust Remembrance Day, as reported by the Jerusalem Post. And this was not an accidental strike on a site that happened to be Israeli, i.e. collateral damage. According to Cyber-attack expert Roni Becher the attack on Yad Vashem was “fairly massive.” Such an effort to bring down the Yad Vashem website can only mean one thing. Yad Vashem was targeted specifically.

In announcing its attack on Israel, Anonymous was careful to avoid using explicitly anti-Semitic language. It justified the attack through ostensible solidarity with the Palestinians and anger over Israeli oppression and violations of international law. But no matter how much they deny it, an attack on the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, timed to occur at the same time as the day of remembrance of the Holocaust, is not a pro-Palestinian or even anti-Israel action. It is the action of bona fide anti-Semites.

It has long been argued to what extent being anti-Israel is a sign of being anti-Semitic. Anonymous has provided us with a prime example of anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism and sympathy with the Palestinians.  The ‘new’ anti-Semitism, in which one does not even have to refer to the Jews at all, but can target Jews by proxy in Israel through Natan Sharansky’s 3D Test of Anti-Semitism, demonization, double standards, delegitimization, is a real phenomenon, and decent people around the world need to acknowledge it and differentiate between true criticism of Israel and disguised anti-Semitism.

Anonymous does not care who it hurts. According to Arutz Sheva it even attacked the site of an Israeli NGO dedicated to helping children with cancer, Larger than Life.  All that mattered to these anti-Semitic criminals is that they hurt Israel, and thereby hurt Jews.

About the Author
Gary Willig is a researcher at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a student of communications at Bar Ilan University