Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz, IDF Spokesperson, Israel
Introduction: The session was part of the ICT's 16th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism: "Unpuzzling Terrorism". Brig. Gen. Almoz described lessons learned from the recent wave of terror in Israel: the need for the use of force in conjunction with intelligence and preventative work, social media serves as a platform for inflammatory comments and those who have yet to turn to terrorism can be prevented from doing do, reliability is more important than speed, the need for an in-depth understanding of the Palestinian society and the need for learning and investigating as the event unfolds.
In his address, Brig. Gen. Almoz discussed the recent wave of terrorism in Israel. He began with describing four recent phenomena that have arisen amidst this wave of terrorism. First, Almoz argues, in today's world there is what he calls the "media push". While in the past citizens needed to be the ones to "pull" the news- to turn on the radio or television and actively procure the news, today the media pushes the information to the citizens- providing them with information and news without the citizens having control over what and when it is received. Almoz notes that oftentimes, the media publishes the news without full knowledge of, or authenticating, the information. A second modern phenomenon that Almoz distinguishes is the disparity between the mediums through which people receive their information, a difference that overlaps with a generational gap. While young people receive their news from social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter, the older generation receives information from newspapers. This indicates not only a difference in the information being acquired, but also in the immediacy of the news, with newspapers being considerably slower than social media sites. A third phenomenon is the lack of exclusivity, and thus reliability, over the information being acquired. When citizens are flooded with information from various channels and sources, they are unable to ascertain the reliability of the information. The fact that the news is not exclusively presented by a small number of sources, blurs the reliability of the information. Finally, Almoz highlights the fact that in today's world, everyone is a photographer. Given the prominence of ready-to-use cameras, everything is constantly being photographed. These photos allow for scoops and headlines; presenting the bottom line without an abundance of information or details. These photos, mostly uploaded and spread on the internet, all tell a meaningful and significant story. However, as they do so, they also circumvent the need to fact-check and provide in-depth information.
In the second part of his presentation, Brig. Gen. Almoz presented four lessons learned from the recent wave of terror is Israel. The first lesson refers to the use of force. Almoz argues that there should be no discussion in regards to the use of force against detainees and suspects of terror. He claims that the strong use of force in Judea and Samaria has resulted in the recent wave of terrorism dying down. As his second lesson learned from the recent wave of terrorism in Israel, Brig. Gen. Almoz highlighted the importance of reliable information. He noted that social media can serve as a platform akin to a contagious disease, with everyone exposed to the inflammatory comments and liable to be influenced by them. Given the stream of information available online, on social media platforms, Almoz highlights the need for the public to hear and be explained the truth regarding events and their consequences. He takes care to note that reliability must not be pushed aside in the race for timeliness. However, one cannot waste time and refrain from providing information. If a critical amount of time has passed and no information has been released, the most up-to-date information must be publicized. The third lesson Brig. Gen. Almoz described is the need for an in-depth understanding of the Palestinian society. One must understand that what appears on the surface is not necessarily what drives the society. Recognizing, acknowledging and interpreting the intricate relationships between groups and organizations in the core of the Palestinian society are critical to understanding terrorism. Lastly, the fourth lesson Brig. Gen. Almoz imparted is the need to analyze and study as events unfold. An effective analysis system as the event unfolds creates an efficient "lessons learned" mechanism, with very relevant conclusions and critiques.
Brig. Gen. Almoz concluded his lecture by analyzing what he thinks ISIS has learned from its campaign in the past few years. Almoz argues that the violent pictures and videos ISIS has published in the last few years have had a great media effect. However, Almoz also claims that even ISIS would note that the battle cannot be won simply by use of the media; battles are won by operational activity on the ground.