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Russia is trying to exploit America's divisions over the war in Gaza

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  3 weeks ago  •  20 comments

By:   Dan De Luce

Russia is trying to exploit America's divisions over the war in Gaza
In its information war against the U.S., Russia is seeking to exploit divisions over Israel's offensive in Gaza to aggravate political tensions among Americans.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Russia is seeking to exploit America's divisive debate over Israel's offensive in Gaza through overt and covert propaganda, with the aim of aggravating political tensions in the U.S. and tarnishing Washington's global image, according to two sources familiar with U.S. intelligence on the matter.

In its ongoing information war against the United States, Russia has shifted its focus in recent months to the Israel-Hamas conflict, seeking to inflame existing divisions in the West and to portray Washington as fueling the violence, the sources said.

The effort includes artificial intelligence, fake social media accounts, a long-standing tactic used by Moscow, as well as a spike in propaganda from Russian state media. The sources declined to share examples of Russian-generated bots on social media to avoid revealing U.S. intelligence-gathering methods.

Russia has repeatedly denied accusations it spreads disinformation abroad. A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The campaign is thelatest example of Russia's bid to seize on existing political rifts in America and other NATO countries, according to the sources and independent researchers.

"It's an opportunity, again, to undermine the West," said Bret Schafer, who tracks Russian and other propaganda at the German Marshall Fund of the United States' Alliance for Securing Democracy.

For more on this story, tune in to "NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt" tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT or check your local listings.

The information offensive is also a way for Russia to divert attention from its invasion of Ukraine and portray itself as a champion of the Palestinians, Schafer said. "They have pivoted away from trying to message around their own war to focusing on this one," he said.

Writing about pro-Palestinian protests at American college campuses, the Russian-state run Sputnik recently suggested "the threat of deadly police violence against demonstrators looms over the current protests" and reminded readers that four students were killed during the Vietnam era in an anti-war protest at Ohio's Kent State University.

Another headline from Sputnik's Facebook account questioned how politicians were responding to the campus protests: "'Land of the Free'? How US Lawmakers Restrict Students' Right to Peaceful Protest: US lawmakers have once again demonstrated where their sympathies lie in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by cracking down on student protests against the bloodbath in the Gaza Strip."

In the first seven weeks after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel, posts on Facebook from Russian state media, pro-Russian commentators and Russian diplomats increased dramatically — by 400 percent, according to the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Some of the posts describe dark conspiracies involving Ukraine. Russia's RT outlet, in an Arabic language post, alleged that Ukrainian mercenaries were fighting with Israeli forces in Gaza. Pravda quoted Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president and prime minister, alleging that Hamas militants were using NATO weapons that had been provided to Ukraine.

Moscow is targeting Europe as well in this effort. In November, France accused a Russian-linked network of bots of stoking antisemitism by amplifying images of Stars of David graffiti on buildings in Paris with 2,589 posts on the X social media platform.

"This new operation of Russian digital interference against France testifies to the persistence of an opportunistic and irresponsible strategy aimed at exploiting international crises," the French foreign ministry said, "to sow confusion and create tensions in the public debate in France and in Europe."

Discrediting American democracy


A favorite theme of Russian information operations is to paint America as a failing democratic state, according to U.S. officials and researchers.

At an event last week in Washington, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said Russia works to denigrate America's standing in the world, to undermine democratic institutions and processes and to exploit social, political and economic divisions "in our culture and in our society."

Haines added that the Russians "are quite sophisticated" and are using artificial intelligence tools in their information operations.

U.S. officials and experts say it's important not to overstate the effect of the propaganda effort on the intense debate over Israel's campaign in Gaza, or to imply that demonstrations in the U.S. on either side of the issue are being orchestrated in any way by Moscow.

"I think it would be entirely inaccurate to say that the protests that are happening on college campuses, the divisiveness of the debate in Congress and among the public is a result of anything that Russians have done or could do," Schafer said. "I think it would all be there regardless of whether there were Russian bots and Russian state media messaging."

Emerson Brooking, a senior fellow at the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the Atlantic Council, a think tank, said reports on propaganda efforts by foreign actors over protest movements needed to be treated with caution.

Allegations of foreign influence "can often be used to delegitimize large and authentic democratic movements in the United States," Brooking said, adding that some critics of the Black Lives Matter protests tried that tactic citing foreign adversaries' information operations.

Russia's bid to amplify divisions over Gaza is also designed to attract more readers to other pro-Russian propaganda content on social media, with the aim of shaping attitudes on the war in Ukraine, experts said.

Russia is also spreading disinformation to damage President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats in advance of the U.S. election, using fake online accounts and bots, NBC News has reported.

The attacks on Biden are part of a continuing effort by Moscow to undercut American military aid to Ukraine and U.S. support for NATO, experts said.

Russia is also waging a similar campaign in Europe to undermine support for Ukraine. France, Germany and Poland have accused Russia of launching a barrage of propaganda to try to shape the outcome of the European parliamentary elections in June.


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Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
1  Buzz of the Orient    3 weeks ago

America's growing destructive political divisiveness doesn't need Russia's help - American politicians assisted by an ultra-biased media are doing a bang-up job in making it worse every day.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
1.1  Sparty On  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    3 weeks ago

Only for those who allow themselves to be manipulated by it. Which I agree, is unfortunately a lot of people.[]

 
 
 
Drakkonis
Professor Guide
1.1.1  Drakkonis  replied to  Sparty On @1.1    3 weeks ago
But I submit that it is not as bad as it seems here in hyper partisan NT-land.

[] In actuality, I think it is already pretty bad. The crap they teach in many colleges and universities is already bad enough, but now it's getting insane in the public school system. However bad it is now, I think it's going to be worse a decade from now, unless we can collectively wake up and see that we aren't drifting in the direction we are currently, we're being herded there.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
1.1.2  Sparty On  replied to  Drakkonis @1.1.1    3 weeks ago

I can only speak to the eye test in my sphere of influence.

[] We are still fast friends. They, like I, refuse to be manipulated by parties and media. There is so much more to people than just who they vote for. Here, many will call you an idiot if you vote the wrong person. Ridiculously ignorant.

Haters gonna hate though. That will never change.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
1.1.3  Sparty On  replied to  Sparty On @1.1    3 weeks ago

[]

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
1.1.4  Sparty On  replied to  Sparty On @1.1.3    3 weeks ago

[]

 
 
 
Drakkonis
Professor Guide
1.1.5  Drakkonis  replied to  Drakkonis @1.1.1    3 weeks ago

[From the CoC:]

[Meta comments (comments about the site or its members) are always off-topic.][]
 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
1.1.6  Sparty On  replied to  Drakkonis @1.1.5    3 weeks ago

[]

 
 
 
Drakkonis
Professor Guide
1.1.7  Drakkonis  replied to  Drakkonis @1.1.5    3 weeks ago

[]

 
 
 
Igknorantzruls
Freshman Quiet
1.2  Igknorantzruls  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    3 weeks ago

Yes, the far right media and the GOP are doing a bang up job without help needed from Russian bots, but they are receiving it, and it will only increase the pace and space, of the separation and distance, from far too many from the actual reality they had already been floating away from prior. With the KBG now spelled MTG its pretty easy to see as spread in an attempt to impeach Biden via Russian born lied about evidence is obvious proof of Russian influence through the former Law and Order GOP, who have now become through Trump and the Republicans, influencers directing US apart, and mainly due to one mentally diseased American disgraced individual, Donald Trump

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.2.1  devangelical  replied to  Igknorantzruls @1.2    3 weeks ago

meh, the constitution provides a remedy for those that wish to transform america into a autocracy or theocracy...

 
 
 
MrFrost
Professor Guide
2  MrFrost    3 weeks ago
Russia Is Trying To Exploit America's Divisions Over The War In Gaza

Just the way the GOP likes it. 

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
2.1  devangelical  replied to  MrFrost @2    3 weeks ago

... it works on the low info maga voters every time ...

 
 
 
Gsquared
Professor Principal
3  Gsquared    3 weeks ago

Meanwhile, in Russia:

Russian   authorities have arbitrarily arrested thousands of peaceful protesters at anti-war rallies across Russia, in line with their increasingly brutal crackdown on those who disagree with Russia’s military offensive in   Ukraine .

The police used excessive force against protesters while detaining them and, in several instances, inflicted abuse amounting to torture or inhuman and degrading treatment, on those in custody. According to OVD-Info, the leading human rights project working to protect freedom of assembly in Russia,   13,500 people   have been arbitrarily arrested since Russia started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

“Russian authorities continue to deny people the right to freedom of assembly and stifle the voices of those who disagree with Russia’s war in Ukraine,” said   Hugh Williamson , Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The escalating police violence illustrates the length to which Russian authorities will go to intimidate and silence dissent.”

During mass protests on March 6, police detained   about 5,000   people in 69 cities, according to OVD-Info. On March 8, International Women’s Day, the police detained dozens of protesters at peaceful rallies across the country. That day women across Russia   laid flowers   next to monuments to protest the war.

Since February 24, Russian authorities have vigorously suppressed public expressions of disapproval of the government’s official narrative, including by   blocking   independent media,   criminalizing   independent media reporting and calls to end the war, and by   targeting   peaceful protesters.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1  devangelical  replied to  Gsquared @3    3 weeks ago

just like in russia, it seems maga morons aren't going to be satisfied until they have another kent state happen ...

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
4  Sparty On    3 weeks ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
5  devangelical    3 weeks ago

I'm waiting for putin to announce he and trump's plan for a gated ex-pat maga community in russia ...

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
5.1  devangelical  replied to  devangelical @5    3 weeks ago

... magaville

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
6  Thrawn 31    3 weeks ago

As long as social media is around we are going to be making it easy for those like Putin.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
6.1  devangelical  replied to  Thrawn 31 @6    3 weeks ago

until the biggest fears of rwnj's are fully exploited this bullshit will continue to happen. fear of death and loss of fortune...

 
 

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