The April 13, 2022 issue of The Jewish Post & News carried my article, “Conversations with a Friend in Russia,” about the war in Ukraine.
My friend and I have continued to exchange messages about the ongoing illegal war of aggression by Russia via a secure network.
Here is an edited version of a recent long letter my friend asked me to send via email to Russian dissident émigré Mark Feygin.
Feygin is a former Russian lawyer and human rights activist. He also served from January 1994 to December 1995 as a deputy of the State Duma and was the vice mayor of Samara, notes Wikipedia.
In 2011 and 2012, Feygin was active in opposition to President Vladimir Putin, and announced that he was forming an opposition party. Since the February 24, 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, he has gained a following on YouTube, hosting daily discussions with Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych on his channel. I have made some minor grammatical and syntactical corrections to the letter.
“I hope my letter will not only reach you, but you will find time to read it. I considered it important to share with you the following considerations. I developed them as a result of a long – since February 24, and continuing all the time – following the course of Putin’s war against Ukraine.
‘“… this (Putin’s lies) is not obvious to the Russian layman …”’ These were your words in the New Year’s Eve stream at Zhdanov’s. That’s exactly what it is – for the main contingent, from which Putin’s occupying army is replenished, Putin’s lie is not obvious! This category of citizens has their brains blocked by many years of Putin’s propaganda. But it is necessary to make sure that Putin’s lies, his real war crimes and crimes against his own people become obvious even to the most recent idiots in this country! We need replacement drivers in their primitive and zombied brains.
“Why is it important to do this now, and not wait until Putin is somehow demolished and his accomplices, remaining in power, begin to explain to the masses that the dwarf ‘turned out to be not a father, but a bitch’ (as Andrey Piontkovsky voiced this scenario).
“This must be done now, in the midst of the war; because the doubts sown in the brains of marginals deformed by Putin’s propaganda is a real mechanism for influencing their motivation. This is a real mechanism to reduce the ranks of creatures ready to become consumables in Putin’s occupying army. The more degenerates join the ranks of the occupying army, the longer the war will last, the longer the torment of Ukrainians will continue, the more destruction there will be in Ukraine, the longer the maniac will be able to continue his terrorist activities. Therefore, it is important to reduce their ranks and change their motivation.
“The human psyche is a plastic material, an easily induced substance, but in order to reorient it, it must be acted upon. Putin’s propagandists, for their part, make an active direct impact on the brains of this redneck mass (and very effectively), but there is no counter-influence on this contingent.
“Clever verbose analytical streams of opposition bloggers and experts do not solve the problem of suppressing the drivers operating in the heads of this category of the population. They do not hear and do not listen to these clever arguments.
Here, Kiriyenko calls on the masses to make this real terrorist war the people’s war…. And, who is calling the Russian layman to the people’s war against Putin and his occupation regime?
Some of the citizens come to understand the realities themselves. But the majority in this demographic cohort won’t make it on its own. If such appeals are heard, then (it must be done) in the verbose context of analytical reasoning and assessments.
“But in this format, these appeals will not pierce the brains of idiots. They must be broken through with short and sharply directed formulations – directly calling Putin the only enemy of their homeland, of their nation.
“Cattlemass, which includes representatives of all social categories of citizens, does not care about the suffering of Ukrainians. On the contrary, they rejoice at this because they have already had hammered into their heads that their enemies have settled in Ukraine, and Putin is their protector. These deformed brains cannot be reoriented by clever reasoning and revelations.
“They need to briefly and clearly drive other formulas into their minds: that Putin is an enemy of the Russian (their) people; that Putin has plundered their country and is now finally destroying it; that Putin is an enemy of Russia, destroying the population of their country, exterminating them; that Putin is depriving their children and grandchildren of a future in this country; that each of their volleys in Ukraine is a volley that destroys their own country; that those who serve Putin are traitors to their country and there will be punishment for this; that Putin in power in Russia is Hitler’s revenge for the defeat in the Second World War, etc. – that Putin must be destroyed in order to save Russia and restore a normal life in their country for themselves.
“Your own shirt is closer to the body” and this should be emphasized in the information war. For them, these formulas should sound short, repeated and continuous. Otherwise, the majority will not reach.
“The lamentations of some well-known anti-Putin and anti-Russian bloggers-journalists that ‘Russians are genetically predetermined slaves’ are not just stupid and unfair (remember how the people rose in Khabarovsk, at least) – they are harmful, because they only help Putin’s mafia to consolidate the rednecks around Putin and use them as an instrument of his crimes.
“For the benefit of the cause of victory over Putin’s evil, it is necessary to reprogram these deformers as far as possible, in all possible ways, right now. Seeds of doubt can only germinate if they are thrown into the ground. Otherwise no.
“There is such a formula: “If a person is told every day that he is a donkey, he will soon scream like a donkey!’
“This is how the human psyche works. Putin’s propaganda actively and aggressively uses this principle, it is built on this. And it gives results, as we all see. And yet there is no effective counteraction to this in the information war! The situation in the information field is similar to the situation in the real war on the combat front, where the defenders of Ukraine are forced (so far) to respond to massive shelling by the occupiers only by shooting down missiles in their skies and destroying the occupiers within their own territory.
“In the information war, Putin’s people are persecuting lies, but by a method that affects simple brains. They aggressively stigmatize the victims of their aggression as ‘Nazis’, attribute all their own crimes to the victims, inspire their inhabitants that this is a holy war for the ‘defense of the Russian world’, etc. In the brains of Russian inhabitants (in very many) induced by Putin’s propaganda, there was a merger of retrospective images of the Second World War with their perception of the current acts of Putin’s occupiers as the war against enemies. And, in response to that from the so-called opposition on the information field, only wordy explanations of the depth of the maniac’s mental deformation, endless exposure and ridicule of his paranoid delirium, repeated discussions of his health and the vile tricks of his lackeys, etc.
“This also needs to be voiced, of course, but this is absolutely not enough to achieve a result. Where are the active direct accusations and calls for a people’s war against the occupiers? The information war on the part of the anti-Putin forces should change from debatable and explanatory to offensive and accusatory, calling for resistance.
“Moreover, now the long-winded and repeatedly repeated arguments of anti-Putin bloggers also come with oppositionists (true and pseudo) attacking each other and their mutual denials. I do not give examples, they are well known. Well, what result should be expected from such an ‘information war’? Oppositionists cease to be trusted. The opposition seems to be there, well, at least this, but the result? In the current format, these moans of the opposition can last forever.
“To achieve success on the field of “information warfare” an active, aggressive counter-action is needed. We need a consolidation of all forces, and not neurotic outbursts and mutual pecking. If there is real resistance, it will objectively work to sow doubts in the zombie brains of the bulk of the Russian layman, reprogram them – point them to their real enemy, urge them not to become accomplices in the destruction of their own country. Moreover, it will be pure truth, reinforced for them by what they experience every day in their own skin. They experience, but endure and do not think about the reasons, because they are under hypnosis. There is no anti-hypnosis. There is no massive ‘trench agitation’. (It is all the more strange that it does not exist in a country with such historical experience – let us recall what successes the Bolsheviks achieved with their “trench agitation”).
“Orcs can only be changed by driving other motivating blocks into their minds – that their real enemy is the one they currently serve. There are still surprisingly few examples of such active offensive work on the information front (as Arestovich said – “little, bad, not enough” – that’s exactly the case here!)
“A positive example of how this should be done is the New Year’s address of the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Reznikov. Everything is on point, strong and concise. It is all the more strange that “trench propaganda” is not used by anti-Putin informationists, when a maniac and the actions of his gang provide abundant objective texture for guilty verdicts and calls for a people’s war against a real enemy.
“These accusations and appeals must be made not only on some Telegram channels and (intricate, lengthy, often contradictory) on some YouTube streams, but in 24×7 mode, on all possible channels, briefly, persistently, with conviction and clearly.
“It is necessary to use all available modern technologies in order to convey the necessary messages to the addressee. It is necessary to hack federal TV channels and load them with the necessary content (experience with regional TV has already begun to appear).
“It is necessary to hack the loading of advertising plasmas on the streets of big cities and display the necessary frames and appeals on them. (It is technically possible, because there was a case when an amateur hacker put a porn video on Moscow street plasmas). Well, and so on. Do it now, and not wait until after the victory over Putin’s fascism. Information warfare is important as a direct instrument of real physical warfare, but to be effective it must be carried out with methods that penetrate to the target.
“That’s all for now. But, there’s a lot more to say.
“Good luck and victories in your fight!
The Critical Job Roles in Online Business
More companies than ever are embracing remote working. As of 2023, around 16% of businesses have a fully remote working model, with many more adopting a hybrid one. All of this should come as welcome news to anyone looking for a better work-life balance. As well as saying goodbye to grueling commutes, remote employees can embrace lucrative salary packages, generous benefits, and more. Ready to reap the benefits of online work yourself? Below are just a handful of remote working opportunities to consider.
Whether it’s creating Canadian online slots for real money casinos or an open-world epic, great games need talented developers. Thankfully, this is one sector where the typical rules of the 9-5 don’t apply. In the US, an experienced game developer can expect to take home around $103,000 annually. For a midweight casino games developer, a starting salary of around $65,000 is fairly respectable.
If you have a background in software engineering, you’re in luck. Currently, it’s one of the highest-paid online roles around, with an average salary of $108,000. There’s no one size-fits-all remit for a software engineer, but typical roles include designing applications, testing, and creating system upgrades.
User experience is becoming increasingly important as companies strive to make their digital products more accessible. Unsurprisingly, there’s a high demand for user experience designers, with many positions now advertised as remote-first roles. You’ll need to have sufficient software and development experience to excel here. What’s more, you’ll need to work closely with clients to meet the needs of the consumer. If you think you could do well in a role like this, expect an annual salary in the region of $97,000.
One role you’ll never struggle to find is that of a web designer. It’s a pretty broad field, so expect a lot of disparity when it comes to job remits and starting salaries. At a minimum, a web designer worth their salt should be able to create accessible websites for a wide range of clients. You’ll also need to be familiar with coding languages and testing. Less experienced web designers can expect to command a starting salary of around $43,000. If you’ve been working professionally for more than a few years and have a solid portfolio to back you up, you can easily negotiate twice that amount.
For digital natives, remote working will come as second nature. Don’t have the skills to land a web designer or developer job? Not to worry. There are an increasing number of entry-level remote roles out there.
Customer service roles are readily available, with positions to cater to all experience levels. At the bottom rung of the ladder, you might be tasked with making sales calls or resolving complaints from customers. A customer service agent can comfortably make around $40-50,000 a year. If you operate on a commission basis or can take advantage of a generous bonus scheme, you could easily double this annually.
Even as many businesses encourage workers back to the office, there’s an deniable upward trend in the number of remote and hybrid-only roles on the job market. Video conferencing technology and collaboration tools are making it easier than ever for remote teams to remain connected. Meanwhile, company executives are finding it hard to argue with significantly reduced overheads and increased productivity.
Dangers from the far-right in America explored in new book
By MARTIN ZEILIG “The United States is confronted by a serious domestic terrorist threat in addition to the foreign ones that have commanded our attention for the past two decades,” warn Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) fellows and leading terrorism experts Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware, says a review of “God, Guns, and Sedition: Far-Right Terrorism in America” on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations (January 2, 2024).
“Their new book provides a definitive account of how ‘“violent extremism has woven itself into the fabric of national, state, and local politics,”’ from the tragedy that unfolded at a historic African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015 through the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.”
Bruce Hoffman is the Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service; professor emeritus of terrorism studies at the University of St Andrews; and the George H. Gilmore Senior Fellow at the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. His Columbia University Press books include “Inside Terrorism “(third edition, 2017).
Jacob Ware is a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and at DeSales University. He serves on the editorial boards for the academic journal Studies in Conflict & Terrorism and the Irregular Warfare Initiative at the Modern War Institute at West Point.
Mr. Hoffman agreed to discuss the book in an email interview with The Jewish Post & News.
JP&N: Why did you decide to write this book now?
BH: The idea for this book came to me just a month into the global COVID lockdown. April 2020 was a dark, dangerous, and highly fearful and uncertain time. Odious conspiracy theories, that had been circulating for years, suddenly gained newfound momentum across the internet and social media. Indeed, within days of the lockdown, Jewish people were being blamed and vilified for creating the pandemic in order to profit monetarily from it.
Asians, persons of color, and immigrants, and others, were also being targeted for blame. Only weeks earlier I had been the target of a serious hate crime. Isolated at home, like most of the rest of the world, I had lots of time to think about what was happening and, I quickly reached the conclusion that I needed to return to my analytical roots.
To explain, I had begun my career as a terrorism and counterterrorism analyst in 1981 at the renowned American think-tank, The RAND Corporation. However, by the time that I joined its Security and Subnational Conflict Research Program, all the more prominent left-wing and ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorists active at the time had been taken by other members of the research team.
Surveying the remaining terrorist movements that had not yet been chosen, I decided to focus on the threat posed by neo-Nazi and neo-fascist groups then active in Europe. That in fact was the subject of my first ever professional publication.
Within only a couple of years, I expanded by focus to include their even far more dangerous American counterparts. I therefore studied intently violent, far-right terrorism in the United States from the mid-1980s through the September 11, 2001 attacks. Then, like most other terrorism analysts, my attention was diverted for the next two decades almost exclusively to al Qaeda and then the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL).
Meanwhile, terrorist attacks from violent, far-right extremists both in the United States and elsewhere had suddenly started to increase during the twenty-teens. In 2011, for instance, there were simultaneous, tragic terrorist attacks in Oslo and Utøya, Norway; four years later there was the horrific shootings of worshippers at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina; then in 2018 a gunman stormed into the Jewish Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh killing congregants; and in 2019 the attacks within weeks of one another on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and a Jewish synagogue in Poway, California, and then that summer at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, clearly demonstrated that the same hateful ideology and bloody mindset that had fueled far-right violence during the closing decades of the twentieth-century, when I first began studying this phenomenon, had neither disappeared nor abated.
Accordingly, I approached my friend and colleague at the Council on Foreign Relations and Georgetown University, Jacob Ware, and proposed that we together write this book. And, we immediately began work on it.
JP&N: What is the extent of far-left terrorism in the U.S.A. and elsewhere in the world? Is there a connection between far-right and far-left extremists?
BH: Let me emphasize that politically-motivated violence—that is, terrorism—in the United States is not confined exclusively to the far-right. Indeed, prior to the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building the most serious incident targeted Republication congressmen. In June 2017, a self-proclaimed supporter of progressive, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders opened fire at an early morning practice for the annual congressional charity baseball game. The then-House Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise, was seriously wounded, along with five other persons. If not for the U.S. Capitol Police present as part of Rep. Scalise’s security detail, who killed the gunman, the outcome would likely have been very different. In another incident two years later, a self-professed anarchist tried to firebomb a Tacoma, Washington Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility, before being shot dead by responding officers.
But with the exception of those two very serious incidents and some others of brawling, rioting, arson, and vandalism that occurred during Donald Trump’s 2017 presidential inauguration in Washington, DC, and in Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, and some other cities following the death of George Floyd by police in 2021, the threat of violence from violent, far-left extremists has been less pervasive and less consequential than that from their counterparts on the far-right. Indeed, Professor Cynthia Miller-Idriss in her book, “Hate in the Homeland,” estimates that there were at least 75,000 armed and violently-inclined far-right extremists in the United States as of 2020—a number that likely completely eclipses that of violently-inclined far-left extremists in the United States: many of whom are not armed and lack the training and expertise possessed by those on the far-right fringe.
The only connection between the two is that they both ascribe to the strategy of “accelerationism.” First articulated by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in their 1848 pamphlet, “Manifesto Of The Communist Party,” accelerationism today is embraced by both ends of the ideological spectrum who believe that the modern Western, liberal state is so corrupt and inept that it is beyond redemption and must be destroyed in order to create a new society and way of governance.
JP&N: What are the strategies for combating far-right terrorism?
BH: The book argues that the United States needs a comprehensive, wide-ranging, institutionalized strategy to effectively counter the threat to our democracy from violent, far-right extremism. Measures are required to strengthen American civil society more generally as well as to specifically target violent extremist groups, their activists and supporters, their propagandists and sympathizers, and their recruiters and financiers.
The policy recommendations we propose fall into three categories: short-term measures to create a stronger regulatory framework, with relatively immediate effects; medium-term measures to strengthen civil society, with impacts over the next five to ten years; and, long-term measures to build national unity and strengthen resilience that will benefit future generations and inoculate them against the allure of extremist ideologies.
This comprehensive counterterrorism strategy will require measures to combat extremists’ free reign online, efforts to build and support longer-term initiatives to prevent new radicalization, and the establishment of new laws to counteract the challenges in prosecuting perpetrators of far-right terrorist plots.
“God, Guns, and Sedition: Far-Right Terrorism in America”
(Columbia University Press $28.95 USD)
Israel programs looking for Canadian volunteers
By BERNIE BELLAN Living as Israelis are in a time of unprecedented tension and uncertainty, more than ever volunteers are needed to fill important roles in that country. While there are so many areas of Israeli society that are now in great need of help, we decided to focus on three programs with which we have some familiarity, having written articles about each of them in the past: Leket, Sar-El, and MASA.
Each program offers a completely different experience for volunteers. We contacted the offices of Leket and Sar-El and had previously been in touch with the Canadian representative for MASA.
We received the following information from a representative for Leket in Israel: “I’m pleased to share that over the past three months, Leket Israel has seen a remarkable influx of volunteer participation in all of Leket Israel’s operations. In addition to its usual volunteer opportunities at the Leket Israel Logistics Center in Gan Haim and the fields in Rishon Lezion, Leket has begun matching volunteers with farmers in need of assistance in harvesting their produce.
“In routine times, Leket Israel welcomes around 5,500 volunteers in the Logistics Center and fields to assist in its food rescue activities.
“Over the past 14 weeks, Leket has sent over 27,000 volunteers from Israel and overseas to support over farmers around the country, most of them in the Gaza strip region. Additionally, hundreds of volunteers come every day to help sort and pack produce at the Logistics Center and to harvest produce in the fields in Rishon Lezion.
“Joseph Gitler, Founder and Chairman: The surge of volunteer participation serves as a testament to the unwavering spirit of giving in Israeli society. This collective effort is making a profound difference in the lives of thousands of displaced Israelis throughout the country.”
Sar-El (acronym from the Hebrew Sherut l’Israel)
Sar-El is a program that assigns volunteers to work on Israeli army bases for either two or three week stints. (Stays can be extended with permission.) Programs are open to volunteers of all ages.
Volunteers are expected to be physically fit and already in a physical fitness program before applying. You should be capable of light or heavy lifting, or standing for long periods of time.
According to the Sar-El website volunteers can be expected to perform non-combat civilian support duties such as packing medical supplies, repairing machinery and equipment, packing and checking all kinds of equipment.
Volunteers work Sunday-Thursday and are expected to be able to put in eight hours of work per day. Three kosher meals a day are provided.
Recently we happened to meet a couple who are both going to Israel quite soon to volunteer with Sar-El. They told me that, due to the exceptional circumstances, they will not actually be stationed on an army base, but rather will be living nearby.
masa Israel Journey
masa is a program for 16-40 year-olds that offers a variety of different programs from which to choose. We were recently contacted by a representative of the masa Israel office in response to a question we had about volunteering during wartime. We had received an email that was aimed at American volunteers, so we wanted to make sure that Canadian volunteers were eligible to volunteer on masa programs.
We were told that Canadians are definitely eligible to volunteer: “In regards to your question, yes Canadians are absolutely eligible! The eligibility of the program is 18-40 years old, identify as Jewish, have not received Masa funding in the past / have not spend 4 or more consecutive months in Israel and speak proficient English.”
Currently masa is offering a special wartime program. According to information on the masa website, The purpose of the program is to enable young Jews, ages 18-40, from around the world to volunteer in the State of Israel during wartime. Our unique program is divided into three 2-week segments. The first two weeks, we will be based in a youth village south of Tel Aviv, cooking meals for soldiers. The middle two weeks will be based in Tel Aviv while we volunteer on an army base and the final two weeks we will be based in the beach town of Eilat where we will be planning and implementing activities with evacuees under the age of 18. Interspersed within the six weeks will be agricultural volunteering as well as tours, educational and social events. For more information please register below or email Rina at email@example.com.
We have not given email addresses for any of the three organizations cited here. Simply Google each of their names if you’re interested in finding out more about them and you’ll find out how to contact representatives.