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Israel to pay students to defend it online

JERUSALEM — Israel is looking to hire university students to post pro-Israel messages on social media networks — without needing to identify themselves as government-linked, officials said Wednesday.

The Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement students on Israeli university campuses would receive full or partial scholarships to combat anti-Semitism and calls to boycott Israel online. It said students’ messages would parallel statements by government officials.

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‘‘This is a groundbreaking project aimed at strengthening Israeli national diplomacy and adapting it to changes in information consumption,’’ the statement said.

An Israeli official said Wednesday that scholarship recipients would be free to decide whether or not to identify themselves as part of the program, which would begin within months.

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