Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Iranian Facebook plot

Meir Weinstein, leader of the Canadian branch of the extremist Jewish Defence League, isn't happy.

A recent post of mine revealed a Facebook friendship between our new junior foreign minister, Peter Kent, and Meir Weinstein, the leader of the Canadian branch of the extremist Jewish Defence League. Weinstein's Facebook site indicated that he was a member of a Facebook group charmingly called מוות לערבים--Death to Arabs (screenshot here). The story was picked up by Rabble and then, without attribution, by
NOW Magazine (scroll down).

Almost immediately, Kent de-friended Weinstein. And now Weinstein is trying to de-friend Death to Arabs.

It's quite a tale, so listen up, but keep your tinfoil handy. And hold your nose: we're going to visit the public forum section of the Canadian Coalition for Democracies, another extremist organization upon whose executive board Peter Kent sits--or sat. (We can't say for sure whether Kent stepped down after his recent election, because CCD has disabled its "who we are" page.)

Weinstein has just caught wind of all this. Here's what he's posted over at CCD:

I am in Israel right now. I arrived on Friday. I just learned about the different write up concerning Peter Kent. Let me state the facts. I live in his riding and I voted for him. It seems Haters of Jews do not think I have the right to vote or have access to my MP. I do have that right.

Collecting himself, he posted a second message:

I just sent an complaint to the editor of Rabble and I will speak to my lawyers. It has just come to my attention that facebook allows heads of groups on facebook to change the name of their group at will with out your knowledge. This was done in my case with a specific intention. And that intention is to plant 'evidence' that I somehow just hate Arabs. This is a LIE most likely fabricated by those that serve the interest of Radical Iran as proxie [sic] agents. I have never ever uttered a racist comment about anyone. I will find the source of this fabrication.

Now, I am frankly impressed that Iran has the capacity to micromanage on a global scale to the point that its "proxie agents" have been assigned to smear a fairly obscure Canadian JDL leader by suggesting that he is anti-Arab--the nerve!--but I am even more impressed by its abilities to manipulate Facebook to its ends.

What Weinstein is suggesting happened is this:

First, some Iranian agents cleverly set a trap for him, by creating a fake Facebook group, called Never Again! or something similar, and sending him an invitation to join. The fly ventured into the spider's parlour, and signed up.

Snap! The trap was sprung. The "proxie agents" immediately re-named the group "Death to Arabs," in Hebrew, to make Weinstein look bad. And Weinstein's own Facebook page was altered as well,
somehow without his noticing.

Then a Jewish peace activist, who has made no secret of his dislike for Weinstein and the JDL, was alerted, no doubt by the "proxie agents." He got in touch with me--or maybe it was those "proxie agents" all along--and I was duped into putting up a post (or possibly I'm a "proxie agent" too). The rest is history. With possible litigation to follow.

Now there are, as it happens, several Facebook groups with the Death to Arabs theme. Perhaps they're all snares set by the Iranians; perhaps they all had different, innocuous names to begin with. The one at the top of the list, by the way, uses the JDL logo. It's a closed group--no public access. (It may not be the one that showed up on Weinstein's page, though, because its name is in English, not Hebrew. Who knows?*)

So how about that Facebook group name-change trick, which alters the name on your own Facebook page too, without you even being aware of it! Just think of the possibilities. "Kathy Shaidle Fan Club" becomes, overnight, a fetish group called "Nazis in Naugahyde." "Stephen Harper Is My Leader" is transmogrified into "Hitler Was Way Cool." Not that I would for a moment suggest such Internet abuse, even in fun.

The endless possibilities for net-japery suggested here, however, may be a mere pipedream. A commenter named David posts at CCD:

How exactly do you change the name of a facebook group Meir? I've looked and there's no function that allows you to do that. You actually cannot change the name of a facebook group. I know because I tried to do it a few months ago for a group whose real world name had changed. I even messaged Facebook administration and you know what they said back in December?

"Facebook no longer accepts requests for group name changes. The name changes were confusing to people and sometimes caused individuals to be in groups that they would have never signed up for. If you would like to have a different name for your group, you can create a new group from the Groups page. Before you do this, please be sure to delete the original group so we don't have duplicates. To do that, remove all members of the group and then remove yourself. Let me know if you have any further questions.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

User Operations

Sorry Meir, but you'll have to come up with a better lie.

Darn. All I have to look forward to now is Weinstein's Statement of Claim.

*UPDATE: I am now informed that this is the Facebook group in question, which Weinstein joined on January 18.


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