Mondoweiss / March 11, 2022
Act.IL, the pro-Israel app at least partially funded by the country’s government, has been deactivated. It has existed since 2017.
“Keeping up with the evolving trends of social media, Act-IL is decommissioning the App, and will continue working with all of our other social medial platforms and community channels,” reads an email to the app’s users. “We are not going anywhere! I invite you to remain active, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and all our other channels where we will continue to share daily calls to action and impactful educational content.”
“I want to personally thank all of you who have been engaging with our app over the years. It was a wonderful tool in its day, and we are excited to explore new innovative community platforms with you in an ever-changing digital world!,” it continues.
The social network service enabled its users to earn prizes by defending Israel online and attacking the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. For instance, a number of recent “missions” involve denouncing Amnesty International’s report on Israeli apartheid.
The app was mainly developed and operated by pro-Israel civil society groups, but it also received funding from the Israeli government. A 2019 report from The Electronic Intifada found that the campaign was operating with a budget of over a $1 million.
The campaign was first unveiled in 2017 by Gilad Erdan, Israel’s former strategic affairs minister and the current Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations. At a Manhattan party Erdan declared that the country was launching an “Iron Dome of Truth” to combat online criticism of the country.
“The State of Israel is under constant attack by delegitimizers working to demonize Israel online and undermine our legitimacy as the nation-state of the Jewish people,” said Erdan. “For this reason I am initiating an international effort to unite Israel’s supporters around the globe and provide them with a platform that strengthens their activities, with tools that will help all of us fight hatred together, and with resources to spread the truth.”
Michael Bueckert, vice president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, has followed the app since its creation and started a Twitter account tracking its missions.
“I’m surprised that the app lasted this long. Its content was always embarrassingly amateurish, and its missions rarely seemed to have made an impact. In my view, the de-activation of the app just confirms that this project was a failure from the start,” Bueckert told Mondoweiss. “It was destined to fail because the problem facing Israel today is not the result of misinformation or lies, but of a growing awareness of the reality of Israeli apartheid itself – and this is something that an app is incapable of solving.”
Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss