Rightist activists - AFP - Feb. 28, 2011
Right-wing activists blocking the Begin Highway in Jerusalem February 28, 2011. Photo by AFP
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Yisrael Sheli is an organization that can react to events quickly. Last Saturday night, the Yesha Council of settlements provided the press photographs of the bodies of members of the Fogel family who had been murdered the night before in the Jewish settlement of Itamar. Within a short time, members of Yisrael Sheli, which is known in English as My Israel, had put together a three-minute video clip based on the photos and began sending them out on the Internet.

Yisrael Sheli, which in recent months has gained an increasingly prominent position in public discourse on web-based social networks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is headed by a former head of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, Ayalet Shaked.

The organization's principles are straightforward: advancing the settlement enterprise and other goals of the right wing through Facebook, through its own website and through e-mail, and reacting immediate to events as they happen. Its Facebook "friends" number in the tens of thousands.

One of its major undertakings over the past year was a boycott of the Mizrahi-Tefahot bank after alleged remarks made by pitchman Dvir Benedek in support of a boycott of Ariel's culutural center. Ultimately it turns out Benedek said no such thing and the organization had to apologize.

The group also called for a boycott of firms supplying materials for the new Palestinian town of Rawabi that had committed not to supply materials originating from the settlements. Activists also edit Wikipedia entries.

Shaked met current Yesha Council Director Naftali Berman while working on Netanyahu's 2006 campaign. Yisrael Sheli was Shaked's and Bennett's idea, in part as an organization to which they could refer people who wanted to volunteer for the cause.

The group presents itself on its website as a national Zionist movement, though it is in effect an arm of the Yesha Council.

Shaked and the organization's other activists lead the group's activities in coordination and at the direction of the heads of the Yesha Council. At first the Yesha Council spokesman even represented the movement, but recently it was decided that the two functions should be separated.

The sources of the group's funding are not public and the group is not listed with the registrar of non-profits. The group's website has no address to which contributions can be sent, but it doesn't require a major budget because almost all its work is done by volunteers.

The group declined to disclose to Haaretz how it is funded and Shaked and Bennett declined to be interviewed for this report.