‘Comment is Free’ on the ‘Anonymous’ and “heroic” cyber-attack on Yad Vashem

What ‘progressive’ goal inspired the group calling itself “Anonymous” to make the decision to launch a cyber-attack against the the Jewish state on Holocaust Remembrance Day?

A Palestinian looks at a screenshot depicting the “#Op_Israel” campaign launched by the activist group Anonymous on April 7, 2013. (Said Khatib/AFP/Getty)

I was contemplating the ‘liberal case for Anonymous’ after reading an entry at ‘Comment is Free’, by the Chicago-based journalist Fruzsina Eordoghtitled ‘How Anonymous have become digital culture’s protest heros‘, April 15.  

In her post, Eordogh characterized the ‘hacktivist collective’ as “the white knights of the digital realm”, citing their efforts to seek justice for the now deceased teen victim of a brutal gang-rape in Nova Scotia, an operation they termed  #OpJustice4Rehtaeh.

Whilst Eordogh devotes most of her CiF column to the tragic case of Parsons, she later pivots to an entirely different agenda in the following passage:

Besides #OpJustice4Rehtaeh, in the last week ‘Anonymous’ attacked North Korean social media accounts, then Israeli websites in solidarity with the Palestinians. While both operations apparently caused no substantial impact (North Korea is still a dictatorship, and Israel hasn’t changed its stance on Palestine), they were both highly publicised…

Though ‘Anonymous’ is considered a blanket term for a loosely linked sub-culture of internet hackers without a central decision-making body, they are widely understood to be united in their opposition to internet censorship and surveillance.  Thus, while an attack on the ultra-secretive, repressive regime in Pyongyang makes sense, what is their rationale for targeting Israel – a democratic country which, unlike scores of totalitarian states around the world, does not police its citizens’ internet use?

Further, though Anonymous’s spectacularly unsuccessful cyber-attack on Israel was said to have been motivated, in part, by opposition to Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, it strains credulity to suggest that such a putatively benign goal can be reconciled with their decision to include on their list of targets in the Jewish state on Yom HaShoah, Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the Jewish victims of the Nazis and the world’s largest repository of information on the Holocaust.

yad vashem
A photo of Yad Vashem’s Children’s Memorial

Many words come to mind when contemplating how best to characterize the willful decision by ‘Anonymous’ hackers to target Holocaust memory, but “heroic” is certainly not one of them.

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