Activist posts private numbers of Israeli president, Cabinet members

Aug 19, 2018

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The phone numbers of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and other prominent politicians were posted to Facebook over the weekend, leading to condemnation from across the political spectrum. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The phones of Israeli politicians across the political spectrum began ringing off the hook this weekend after a list of their private numbers was published online.

President Reuven Rivlin, Ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked and opposition leader Tzipi Livni were among those whose numbers were on the list, which rapidly spread across the country via WhatsApp.

Barak Cohen, the attorney and political activist who compiled the list, explained in a Facebook post that he believed that his actions were a “public service” and urged his social media followers to distribute the numbers “so that every citizen can benefit from accessible communications with his [public] servants.”

Cohen’s post is an example of doxxing, the practice of publishing people’s personal details, such as addresses and phone numbers, on the internet, often for purposes of harassment. In his case, Cohen insisted that he was making Israel’s elected representatives more accessible to their constituents.

Not all of those on the list appreciated the public service, however.

Likud MK Sharren Haskel said that while she has always tried to be open and accomodating to the public, following the leak she would no longer answer phone calls from unidentified numbers.

Tzipi Livni noted that the number posted as hers actually belonged to someone else and requested that people not harass her.

Oren Hazan, a Likud MK known for stunts such as breaking diplomatic protocol in order to take a selfie with U.S. President Donald Trump, had a different take. In a tweet, he wrote that he wanted to thank Cohen.

“Thanks to him I was privileged to discover again how much love and sympathy I have from Dan to Eilat and to gather a huge crowd of supporters who joined my path,” he wrote, thanking the “thousands” who called him with words of encouragement.

“I’m here for you, feel free to call.”

 

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