Ex-Mossad Head: Russia Decided Trump Was Their Best Candidate, and Ran Him for President

Russia chose the most advantageous candidate and used cyber bots to catapult Trump to the position of U.S. president, Tamir Pardo says

Refaella Goichman
Refaella Goichman
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Donald Trump meets with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, July 7, 2017
Donald Trump meets with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, July 7, 2017Credit: Evan Vucci / AP
Refaella Goichman
Refaella Goichman

Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo said Monday that Russia deployed tens of thousands of bots to influence the 2016 U.S. elections in favor of Donald Trump, but not because Trump is a great friend of Russia.

Speaking at The Marker's digital conference, Pardo said that it seems to him that the Russians simply chose to support the candidate that would be the most politically advantageous for them.

Haaretz Weekly podcast, Episode 9Credit: Haaretz

>> Kremlin-White House relations 'non-existent' and unlikely to improve, Russian envoy says

Pardo said they took a look at the political map in Washington, "and thought, which candidate would we like to have sitting in the White House? Who will help us achieve our goals? And they chose him. From that moment, they deployed a system [of bots] for the length of the elections, and ran him for president."

Many experts at the conference spoke of the dangers posed by bots, computer programs designed to run automatically and mimic the cyber behavior of a real user.

Is there a business opportunity here for Israel's cyber companies? Not necessarily, Pardo said.

Ex-Mossad chief Tamar Pardo speaks at TheMarker's digital conference, December 24, 2018.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

In an interview with Sami Peretz, the ex-Mossad head said that “what we’ve seen so far with respect to bots and the distortion of information is just the tip of the iceberg. It is the greatest threat of recent years, and it threatens the basic values that we share – democracy and the world order created since World War Two."

The use of bots and fake information on the web is a global issue that Israel must be prepared to handle, Pardo said. On the digital battlefield war is clean, compared to the death and destruction of physical battlefields. But, Pardo noted, they pose real threats to humanity and to Israel on the web, and the democratic nations should act quickly.

Politicians may believe they can use the bots to their advantage, but the consequences will come back to haunt them, Pardo continued. As an example, he said that Trump may think the bots worked in his favor, but it is the same bots that are liable to topple him. Politicians hold the key to stopping the chaos created by the bots, he concluded.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage