he problem with this image, as Ali Abunimah documented in a very detailed post at Electronic Intifada, is that no such mall exists in Gaza. The picture is actually of the Suria KLCC mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As Abunimah further showed, the image is routinely posted in islamophobic websites and Facebook groups, including one associated with Geert Wilders, and always to make the same basic point: that the Palestinians in Gaza are living the high life. Now the IDF is admitting to the fabrication, and calling it ‘an honest mistake’, which begs the obvious question of why the Israeli army feels the need to source its information from islamophobic and neofascist sites. It’s a question that is likely to remain unanswered.
In the second story, information leaked to Haaretz revealed the existence of a government scheme whereby Israeli students will receive scholarships in exchange for posting pro-Israel Facebook posts and tweets targeted at foreign nationals. The scheme is administered directly by the office of Prime Minister Netanyahu – which confirmed its existence to the press – and expressly requires the students to conceal the link between their targeted social media activity and the state propaganda machine that pays for their studies. This is not to say that the structure of the scheme is informal, however: the students are to be organised in units led by a chief-coordinator (receiving the highest level of funding), who will in turn oversee the work of three desk coordinators and a number of so-called ‘activists’ forming the base of the hierarchical structure. As for the official rationale, it is to ‘strengthen Israeli diplomacy and make it fit the changes in the means of information consumption.’