Tag Archives: Al Jazeera

Support David Miller: fired by Bristol University for resisting Israel’s assault on free speech

Update:

On October 11th, Labour Campaign for Free Speech organised an online meeting to discuss the background to Prof. David Miller’s sacking and how to resist the ongoing Zionist campaign to restrict free speech and academic freedom.

David Miller spoke first, and other speakers included Jewish mathematician, philosopher and socialist activist, Moshé Machover; pro-Palestinian activist, Natalie Strecker, who served as a human rights monitor in Hebron in 2018; rapper and political activist, Lowkey; doctor of medicine, author and academic, Dr Ghada Karmi; and British student, activist and writer with Palestinian and Iraqi heritage, Huda Ammori, who is co-founder of the solidarity group Palestine Action.

Lowkey’s contribution is so well-informed and powerfully expressed that I have cued the video to begin there, however, the discussion is excellent throughout (although there are audio problems in some parts) but in particular I also direct readers to listen to David Miller’s introduction, Huda Ammori’s call for direct action [from 58 mins] and Natalie Strecker’s [from 24 mins] courageous defiance of Labour’s adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-semitism which conflates Judaism with Zionism in assuming that all Jews are Zionists, and that the state of Israel in its current reality embodies the self-determination of all Jews:

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The University of Bristol has fired Professor David Miller, a leading UK critic of Israel and its lobby.

After a years-long campaign of smears by that same lobby, the university said on Friday [Oct 1st] that, “Professor David Miller is no longer employed by the University of Bristol.”

The statement said only that Miller “did not meet the standards of behavior we expect from our staff,” though it did not elaborate.

Miller told The Electronic Intifada he would be appealing and “fighting it all the way.”

From a report written by Asa Winstanley, published by The Electronic Intifada.

It continues:

The university said in its statement that Miller “has a right of internal appeal which he may choose to exercise and nothing in this statement should be taken to prejudge that.”

The university “does not intend to make any further public comment at this time,” it said.

Bristol University further claimed that it was committed to an environment preserving “academic freedom.” But in what seemed a Freudian slip, it also said that “we take any risk to stifle that freedom seriously.”

Adding:

A who’s who of right-wing figures, anti-Palestinian activists and Israel lobbyists made a massive effort to push for Miller to be fired, with even British politicians piling on. […]

These included the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Zionist Federation, the Jewish Labour Movement and the Community Security Trust.

At the end of February, Israel itself also got involved, mobilizing one of its online troll armies to flood social media conversations with calls for Miller to be fired.

Act.IL – which is directed and funded by an Israeli ministry – issued a mission calling for attacks on an opinion piece published by Al Jazeera defending Miller.

However, David Miller has also received a great deal of support including statements of solidarity from filmmaker Ken Loach and comedian Alexei Sayle and many hundreds of academics and relevant others including Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappé, Norman Finkelstein, Ronnie Kasrils and John Pilger who have signed an open letter of support which is reprinted in full below.

On February 20th, Miller wrote in a piece for The Electronic Intifada that:

Britain is in the grip of an assault on its public sphere by the state of Israel and its advocates.

Meaningful conversations about anti-Black racism and Islamophobia have been drowned out by a concerted lobbying campaign targeting universities, political parties, the equalities regulator and public institutions all over the country.

Earlier this month, the newly elected secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Zara Mohammed, was set upon by two of the most energetic Zionist campaigners in British public life (Laura Marks and BBC presenter Emma Barnett) within days of taking up her position.

This month American commentator Nathan J. Robinson revealed how The Guardian fired him as a columnist for a mere tweet referencing US military aid to Israel.

At the same time, the celebrated film director Ken Loach was smeared by Israel lobby groups such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who attempted to prevent him speaking to students at the Oxford college where he studied.

And this week, Israel’s lobby in Britain has trained its guns on me.

Adding:

In February 2019, I delivered a lecture for a course I teach at Bristol explaining the five pillars theory of Islamophobia.

The theory details the mechanisms by which certain states, far-right movements, the neoconservative movement, the Zionist movement and the liberal New Atheist movement promote Islamophobia.

Within weeks, the pro-Israel Community Security Trust complained to Bristol university about the inclusion of the Zionist movement in my teaching.

This was followed by a complaint to university authorities against me drafted by the Union of Jewish Students, a group revealed in an undercover Al Jazeera investigation to be funded by the Israeli embassy in London.

And concluding:

There can be no doubt, too, about the threat Israel’s campaign of censorship poses to Arab and Muslim students, who are silenced from expressing how the racism that targets them actually works.

Bristol university has seen several shocking racist incidents unfold in recent years, including far-right posters plastered over its campus and an event co-hosted by the Zionist Pinsker Centre at which the guest speakers included the proudly Islamophobic former British army colonel, Richard Kemp.

Also speaking was Yossi Kuperwasser, the former “head of research” of Israeli military intelligence and former director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the department in charge of overseeing manufactured anti-Semitism allegations internationally and of targeting pro-Palestinian activists around the world.

The Israel lobby’s attack on me lays bare what is actually going on – a weaponization of bogus anti-Semitism claims to shut down and manipulate discussion of Islamophobia.

But the lobby’s tactics are only so effective because they are rarely challenged. It is time for those who are concerned about Islamophobia, racism and academic freedom to make their voices heard.

Click here to read David Miller’s full article entitled “We must resist Israel’s war on British universities” published by The Electronic Intifada on February 20th.

And here to read Asa Winstanley’s full article published by The Electronic Intifada on October 1st.

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Additional: Educators and researchers in support of Professor Miller

Public intellectuals, educators and researchers speak out against the censorship campaign targeted at Bristol’s David Miller

Professor Hugh Brady

President and Vice-Chancellor

University of Bristol

Re: Academic freedom and the harassment and victimisation of Professor David Miller

Dear Professor Brady,

We wish to express our serious concerns about the unrelenting and concerted efforts to publicly vilify our colleague Professor David Miller.

Professor Miller is an eminent scholar. He is known internationally for exposing the role that powerful actors and well-resourced, co-ordinated networks play in manipulating and stage-managing public debates, including on racism. The impact of his research on the manipulation of narratives by lobby groups has been crucial to deepening public knowledge and discourse in this area.

The attacks on Professor Miller stem from a lecture on Islamophobia that he gave to students at the University of Bristol two years ago. In the most recent instance of this harassment, Professor Miller was approached to provide a statement on Israel-Palestine. When he responded honestly to the query, well-orchestrated efforts were made to misrepresent these responses as evidence of anti-Semitism. A call was then made to the University of Bristol to deprive him of his employment.

We oppose anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism. We also oppose false allegations and the weaponisation of the positive impulses of anti-racism so as to silence anti-racist debate. We do so because such vilification has little to do with defeating the harms caused by racism. Instead, efforts to target, isolate and purge individuals in this manner are aimed at deterring evidence-based research, teaching and debate.

Prolonged harassment of a highly-regarded scholar and attempts to denigrate a lifetime’s scholarship cause significant distress to the individual. Such treatment also has a broader pernicious effect on scholarship and well-informed public discourse. It creates a culture of self-censorship and fear in the wider academic community. Instead of free and open debate, an intimidatory context is created and this can be particularly worrying for those who do not hold positions of seniority, influence or stable employment, particularly in times of job uncertainty and in a sector with high levels of casualised employment. As a result, important scholarship is omitted, and this curtails the public’s and students’ right to learn and to engage in thoughtful debate.

At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has reinvigorated public consciousness about the structural factors entrenching racism, attempts to stifle discourse on Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism are particularly regressive and inconsistent with the values the University of Bristol espouses.

As public intellectuals and academics, we feel duty-bound to express our solidarity with Professor Miller and to oppose such efforts to crush academic freedom. Given your roles within the University and your responsibilities to the wider academic community, we urge you to vigorously defend the principle of academic freedom and the rights to free speech and to evidence-based & research-informed public discourse. We hope that you will uphold the integrity of academic debate.

cc:

Professor Simon Tormey, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Professor Sarah Purdy, Pro VC (Student Experience) 

Professor Tansy Jessop, Pro VC (Education) 

Professor Judith Squires, Provost 

Mr Jack Boyer, Chair, Board of Trustees 

Dr Moira Hamlin, Vice-Chair, Board of Trustees

Ms Jane Bridgwater, Director of Legal Services 

Yours truly

Professor Noam Chomsky, University of Arizona, Linguistics

Dr Ahdaf Soueif, Writer and Retired Professor in English at Cairo University 

Professor Sami Al-Arian, Istanbul Zaim University, Director, Center for Islam and Global Affairs

Professor Ilan Pappé, University of Exeter, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies

Mr John Pilger, Journalist, Author and Filmmaker

Dr Norman G Finkelstein, Political Scientist and Author

Mr Ronnie Kasrils, Author and Former South African Government Minister (1994-2008)

Dr François Burgat, Emeritus Senior Research Fellow at French National Centre for Scientific Research

Professor Deepa Kumar, Rutgers University, Communication and Information

Dr Françoise Vergès, Political Scientist, Historian and Feminist

Professor Emeritus Seamus Deane, University of Notre Dame

Mr Sami Ramadani, London Metropolitan University, Social Sciences (Retired)

Professor Peter Kennard, Royal College of Art, Photography

Professor Salman Sayyid, University of Leeds, Sociology and Social Policy

Professor Augustine John, Coventry University, Office of Teaching & Learning

Professor Emeritus Joseph Oesterlé, Sorbonne University, Paris, Mathematics

Professor Ad Putter, University of Bristol

Professor Alf Nilsen, University of Pretoria, Sociology

Professor Aeron Davis, Victoria University of Wellington, Political Science and International Relations

Professor Ali Rattansi, City, University of London, Sociology

Professor Anand Pillay, University of Notre Dame, Mathematics

Professor Andreas Bieler, University of Nottingham, Politics and International Relations

Professor Anna Gilmore, University of Bath, Health

Professor Bryan McGovern, Kennesaw State University, History

Professor Cahal McLaughlin, Queen’s University Belfast, School of Arts, English and Languages

Professor Chris Knight, University College London, Anthropology

Professor Craig Brandist, University of Sheffield, Languages and Cultures

Professor Cyra Choudhury, Florida International University, Law

Professor Daniel Boyarin, University of California at Berkeley, Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric

Professor Daniel Broudy, Okinawa Christian University, Rhetoric and Applied Linguistics

Professor David H. Price, St Martin’s University, Society and Social Justice

Professor David Randall Roediger, University of Kansas, American Studies

Professor David Whyte, University of Liverpool, Sociology 

Professor Des Freedman, Goldsmiths, University of London, MCCS

Professor Elizabeth Poole, University of Keele, Humanities

Professor Eshragh Motahar, Union College, Schenectady NY, Economics 

Professor Frank García Hernández, Juan Marinello Cuban Institute for Cultural Research

Professor Hagit Borer, QMUL, Fellow of the British Academy

Professor Haim Bresheeth-Zabner, SOAS, Palestine Studies Centre

Professor Hamish Cunningham, University of Sheffield, Computer Science

Professor Hans Klein, Georgia Institute of Technology, Public Policy 

Professor Harry Hemingway, UCL, Institute of Health Informatics

Professor Hatem Bazian, Zaytuna College and University of California, Berkeley, Islamic Law and Theology 

Professor Helen Colhoun, University of Edinburgh, IGMM 

Professor Iain Munro, Newcastle University, Business

Professor Iftikhar H. Malik, Bath Spa University, History 

Professor Izzat Darwazeh, University College London, Engineering

Professor James Dickins, University of Leeds, Languages, Cultures and Societies

Professor Jane Wheelock, Newcastle University, Geography, Politics and Sociology

Professor Janet C.E. Watson, University of Leeds, Languages, Cultures and Societies

Professor Jared Ball, Morgan State University

Professor Jawed IA Siddiqi, Sheffield Hallam University, Computing

Professor Jeff Goodwin, New York University, Sociology 

Professor Jeremy Keenan, Queen Mary University London, Law

Professor John Parkinson, Maastricht University, Philosophy

Professor John Womack Jr, Harvard University, History 

Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson, University of Bristol, Sociology, Politics and International Studies 

Professor Julian Petley, Brunel University London, Social Sciences

Professor Julian Williams, University of Manchester, Education

Professor Kate Alexander, University of Johannesburg, South African Research Chair in Social Change

Professor Kevin O’Neill, Boston College, History

Professor Mario Novelli, University of Sussex, Education

Professor Maurice L. Wade, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, Philosophy

Professor Megan Povey, University of Leeds, Food Science and Nutrition

Professor Michael Rowlinson, University of Exeter, Business

Professor Michael Wayne, Brunel University London, Media

Professor Miguel Martinez Lucio, University of Manchester, Humanities 

Professor Mohan Dutta, Massey University, Culture-Centered Approach to Research & Evaluation

Professor Mujahid Kamran, Former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University

Professor Nacira Guénif, University of Paris VIII, Education Sciences

Professor Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths, Media, Communications and Cultural Studies

Professor Nigel Patrick Thomas, University of Central Lancashire, Social Work, Care and Community

Professor Patrick Bond, University of the Western Cape, Government

Professor Paul McKeigue, University of Edinburgh, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

Professor Penny Green, QMUL, Law

Professor Pilar Garrido Clemente, Murcia University, Arabic and Islamic Studies

Professor Rafik Beekun, University of Nevada, Management and Strategy

Professor Ray Bush, University of Leeds POLIS 

Professor Richard Jackson, University of Otago, New Zealand, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

Professor Salim Vally, University of Johannesburg, Education

Professor Sam Ashman, University of Johannesburg, Economics

Professor Sandra Eldridge, QMUL, Institute of Population Health Sciences

Professor Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, National University of Ireland Galway, Health Promotion

Professor Schneur Zalman, Newfield CUNY, Social Sciences

Professor Siobhan Wills, Ulster University, Law

Professor Steve Tombs, The Open University, Social Policy and Criminology

Professor Susan Newman, The Open University, Economics

Professor Tariq Modood, University of Bristol, Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Professor Tim Hayward, University of Edinburgh, Social and Political Science

Professor T. J. Demos, UC Santa Cruz, History of Art and Visual Culture

Professor Tom Cockburn, Edge Hill University, Social Sciences

Professor Yosefa Loshitzky, SOAS, University of London, Media Studies

Professor Emeritus Alex Callinicos, King’s College London

Professor Emerita Avery F Gordon, UC Santa Barbara, Sociology

Professor Emeritus Bill Rolston, Ulster University, Transitional Justice Institute

Professor Emeritus Chris Roberts, University of Manchester, Health Science

Professor Emeritus Colin Green, University College London, Surgery and Interventional Sciences

Professor Emeritus Colin Webster, Leeds Beckett University, Social Sciences 

Professor Emeritus Daniel Cornford, San Jose State University, History

Professor Emeritus David Emmons, University of Montana, History

Professor Emeritus David Moshman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Educational Psychology

Professor Emeritus Dennis Leech, University of Warwick, Economics

Professor Emeritus G Rex Smith, University of Manchester, History

Professor Emeritus Hartmut Logemann, University of Bath, Mathematical Sciences

Professor Emeritus Henry Maitles, University of the West of Scotland, Education and Social Sciences

Professor Emeritus Jennifer Birkett, University of Birmingham, Modern Languages

Professor Emeritus John Marriott, University of Oxford, History

Professor Emeritus Kerby Miller, University of Missouri, History

Professor Emeritus Laurence Dreyfus, University of Oxford, Faculty of Music

Professor Emeritus Leslie Sklair, London School of Economics, Sociology

Professor Emeritus Mark Duffield University of Bristol, School of Politics and International Studies

Professor Emeritus Mike Gonzalez, University of Glasgow, Latin American Studies

Professor Emeritus Mike Tomlinson, Queen’s University Belfast, Social Sciences, Education and Social Work

Professor Emeritus Moshé Machover, King’s College London, Philosophy (Retired)

Professor Emeritus Oliver Boyd-Barrett, Bowling Green State University, Journalism and Public Relations

Professor Emeritus Paddy Hillyard, Queen’s University Belfast, Sociology

Professor Emeritus Patrick Williams, Nottingham Trent University, Media and Cultural Studies

Professor Emeritus Phil Scraton, Queen’s University Belfast, School of Law

Professor Emeritus Stan Smith, Nottingham Trent University, English

Professor Emeritus Timothy Gorringe, University of Exeter, Theology

Professor Emeritus Vivien Walsh, University of Manchester, Innovation Research

Professor Emeritus William Nolan, University College Dublin, Geography

Adjunct Professor Matthew MacLellan, Mount Saint Vincent University

Associate Professor Anthony J Langlois, Flinders University, Business, Government and Law

Associate Professor Claire Blencowe, University of Warwick, Sociology

Associate Professor Issam Aburaya, Seton Hall University, Religion

Associate Professor Jesús David Rojas Hernández, Universidad Nacional Experimental Simón Rodríguez

Associate Professor Mark Taylor, University of Queensland, Modern Languages

Associate Professor Yusuf Ahmad, University of the West of Bristol England (Retired)

Assistant Professor Tim Kelly, Coventry University, English

Honorary Professor Iain Ferguson, University of the West of Scotland

Former Honorary Visiting Professor Roy Greenslade, City, University of London, Journalism

Click here to read the original letter with the complete list of signatories.

And here to add your own name to support David Miller

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Filed under Britain, campaigns & events, Israel, John Pilger, Noam Chomsky

Occupation is the problem | Jeremy Corbyn

The issue is that the Palestinian people have been under occupation since 1967; that was the year I left secondary school. The whole of my life since becoming an adult so to speak, the Palestinian people have been under occupation, and that is fundamentally what the issue is.

I don’t want anybody killed. I don’t want any bombs. I don’t want any rockets. I want peace. But you’re only going to get that with recognition of the Palestinian people and that means ending the occupation; ending the settlements; removing the settlements; ending the siege of Gaza; and also recommending the rights of Palestinian refugees, who’ve lived their whole lives in Jordan, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq – every country all around The Gulf there are Palestinian refugees, who have lived their whole lives like that.

I went to Sabra and Shantila some years ago with the late Sir Gerald Kaufman, who was then a Labour MP. He was a Jewish man and was actually for much of his life very pro-Israel, and he was more and more disgusted at the treatment by the Israeli forces of the Palestinian people. And we went to the refugee camps in Lebanon together.

I’ve never forgotten meeting an old man whose whole life since being a very small child had been in this refugee camp since 1948: his whole life. And he had this dream that one day he would be able to return to the village he was expelled from in 1948. And so there is a big human story here and I think that has to be said.

But the events of the past week have been unbelievable and extraordinary… there are no rockets being fired from the West Bank [but] people are being killed on the West Bank. The Israeli occupation forces are destroying homes, destroying families, destroying people. The bombing of Gaza is incredible. You have first-world military planes bombing Gaza and destroying those buildings – and that building that was destroyed today which contained the Al Jazeera and Associated Press studios and offices; that was scientifically destroyed by an air raid.

The big building that was destroyed the other day contained many other organisations. I’ve been in those buildings during visits to Gaza in the past. There can be no possible justification under any rules for that.

Israel is in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel is in breach of its obligations as an occupying power. And the world has got to wake up and that means:

  • ending military cooperation with Israel – and I have questioned the British government on the degree of cooperation with Israel.
  • ending all arms supplies and arms imports from Israel. Because what we see is the destruction of the lives of Palestinian people.

Today in London, over one hundred thousand people marched. It was in fact very hard to get to the stage to deliver my speech today because the crowds were so dense, all down Kensington High Street. That was London. There were also demonstrations in Liverpool, in every major city, in Scotland and in mid-Wales, all over Britain. And so a hundred thousand is the London figure, but to that you should add many more.

Why were they there? They were there because they are human beings with sympathy and support and recognition that there has to be a political solution – and that requires the British government to act by recognising unilaterally, unconditionally, totally; recognising the state of Palestine. To do that at the United Nations as many other countries have done, and go through the points I made about settlements, end the siege, and have some regard for the needs and rights of refugees…

The decision to destroy a building containing the offices of two major media organisations – Al Jazeera and Associated Press – that is an attack on those who report was is going on in Gaza.

Now, I’ve been to Gaza on a number of occasions, I’ve met people, I’ve met young people, I’ve met children, visited schools – I’ve been to lots of places in Gaza – and it’s the most educated place in the world. I think two-thirds of the population have university degrees. Unemployment is even higher at 70%.

It’s very strange being [trapped] in this enclave under permanent fear, insufficiency of water, insufficiency of electricity, insufficiency of medical care, lack of covid vaccines, etc, etc… And then, when the power if off, the building you’re in in Gaza, you can look – if you’re in Gaza City to the North – and you see the bright lights of Ashkelon, to the East you see the lights of various villages and so on in Israel. It’s like putting a whole people under prison. It’s got to end.

I’ve done many debates, calls, meetings and so on, with a lot of people in Israel. A lot of people in left organisations, human rights groups and others in Israel, who would agree with every word I’ve said today. They are appalled. They want too to be able to live in that region in peace, with full recognition of the Palestinian people. That fundamentally is what it’s about. But the British government better wake up to what public opinion is now in this country.

You can watch the full 2hr livestream herehttps://youtu.be/85Mwwzfz4hY

Click here to add your name to a petition calling on the UK government to sanction Israel.

Corbyn on the right side of history again, here speaking out against Israel’s occupation at a recent protest in London:

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Filed under campaigns & events, Israel, Palestine

how they brought down Corbyn… and enabled the rise of Johnson

The mini-documentary embedded above “How they brought down Jeremy Corbyn” is a joint collaboration between Asa Winstanley of The Electronic Intifada and Tala Kaddoura of Al Jazeera. It presents us with a concise rundown of how three groups: the establishment media; the Blairite faction within the Labour Party; and the Israel lobby; worked together to undermine the regular democratic process in Britain and finally brought down the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn.

Asa Winstanley writes:

In this new video, I tell the story of how a hostile foreign government helped stop a socialist becoming Britain’s prime minister.

I’ve covered the story of the “anti-Semitism” witch hunt in the Labour Party since 2015. In that time, I’ve written an estimated 150 articles on the topic.

We’ve reported on the propaganda war against Jeremy Corbyn for years, and in detail.

But it can be a lot to take in. And for those who haven’t followed the story all along, it may be hard to know where to start.

So The Electronic Intifada is proud to present this mini-documentary, giving an overview of how Israel and its lobby helped bring down Jeremy Corbyn.

It uses archive video clips and primary documents to bust the media smears about “Labour anti-Semitism.”

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Recent articles by independent journalist Jonathan Cook have approached and investigated the same issue from different angles.

In the first of these, entitled “Labour antisemitism allegations: How Corbyn and Starmer are judged by different standards” published by Middle East Eye on April 17th, Cook writes:

For years, allies of Jeremy Corbyn argued that allegations of antisemitism had been weaponised against the then-Labour leader and his supporters to undermine his socialist programme and stifle criticism of Israel.

Over the same period, pro-Israel lobby groups and Labour’s right-wing officials vociferously disagreed with them. Not only did they categorically deny that antisemitism had been weaponised, but they also accused anyone who suggested this of promoting an antisemitic trope.

But now, the cat appears to be well and truly out of the bag – care of Corbyn’s most prominent opponents, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Labour Movement, and Labour officials loyal to Labour’s new leader, Keir Starmer.

Newly released details of Labour’s disciplinary process indicate that accusations of antisemitism against the party were most likely used for political ends – to help oust Corbyn.

Practices cited as proof by Corbyn’s critics of a supposed Labour “antisemitism problem” have continued under Starmer, as Middle East Eye  reveals today, but he has suffered none of the backlash faced by his predecessor.

The article then presents evidence of double standards that have been exposed thanks to “legal action being pursued by Labour Activists for Justice (LA4J), a group of party members who accuse Labour of failing to follow transparent and fair disciplinary procedures”. Follow the link above and here to read more about the case.

Having set the record straight, Cook continues:

Labour never had an antisemitism problem to begin with, under Corbyn or Starmer, beyond the levels found more generally in British society.

The double standard that has been applied to Corbyn is still evident. This month, the Jewish Chronicle published a new YouGov poll that showed 70 percent of Labour members agree with Corbyn that the “antisemitism problem” in the party was overstated.

The Chronicle cites this as proof that the Labour Party is still beset with antisemitism and its membership is in denial. And yet, it does not blame Starmer for this, even though it constantly berated Corbyn over Labour’s supposed “antisemitism problem”. Instead, it warns Starmer that he has “a mountain to climb” and urges him to step up his efforts “to purge the party”.

Please note the phrase I have highlighted above. As the party flounders and Starmer comes under growing pressure to resign, we are hearing this repeated as an excuse for poor polling and election performance. These complaints of having “mountain to climb” recited alongside another mantra that “the party hasn’t moved quickly enough”, sound like a statement of intent, and the likelihood is that Labour, as the Jewish Chronicle urges, will now step up efforts to purge the party of the left.

Cook continues:

Another glaring problem for Corbyn’s critics concerns the IHRA definition. Labour officials produced the code in 2018 because they found the IHRA and its 11 examples – seven of them relating to Israel – unworkable as a benchmark for judging antisemitism cases.

That is something Starmer’s officials have effectively conceded by continuing to use the 2018 code in secret, while Jewish leadership groups have remained silent at its publication now.

That leaves us with a troubling further implication. The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Labour Movement, aided by newspapers such as the Jewish Chronicle, whipped British Jews into a frenzy of fear about the existential threat posed by Corbyn.

Now, we must conclude either that they deceived the public about Corbyn’s Labour, or that they are indifferent to the continuing, supposed dangers posed by Starmer’s Labour to the Jewish communities they claim to represent. Either way, it is inexcusable.

Click here to read the article in full on Jonathan Cook’s website.

In a more recent piece published by Counterpunch on May 6th, Jonathan Cook shows how the same double standards and hypocrisy have enabled Boris Johnson to get away with shameless and repeated lies, because, as the headline puts it, “the UK’s Political System is More Corrupt Than He Is”.

Cook begins by considering the role played by the corporate media with its belated and feeble criticisms of Johnson compared to its severe and altogether deplorable treatment of Corbyn:

Britain’s corporate media are suddenly awash with stories wondering whether, or to what extent, the UK’s prime minister is dishonest. Predictably in the midst of this, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg is still doing her determined best to act as media bodyguard to Boris Johnson.

In a lengthy article on the BBC’s website over the weekend, she presents a series of soothing alternatives to avoid conceding the self-evident: that Johnson is a serial liar. According to Kuenssberg, or at least those she chooses to quote (those, let us remember, who give her unfettered “access” to the corridors of power), he is a well-intentioned, unpredictable, sometimes hapless, “untamed political animal”. A rough diamond.

In Kuenssberg’s telling, Johnson’s increasingly obvious flaws are actually his strengths:

“Yet what’s suggested time and again is that the prime minister’s attitude to the truth and facts is not based on what is real and what is not, but is driven by what he wants to achieve in that moment – what he desires, rather than what he believes. And there is no question, that approach, coupled with an intense force of personality can be enormously effective.

“In his political career, Boris Johnson has time and again overturned the odds, and that’s a huge part of the reason why.”

The way Kuenssberg tells it, Johnson sounds exactly like someone you would want in your corner in a time of crisis. Not the narcissist creator of those crises, but the Nietzschean “Superman” who can solve them for you through sheer force of will and personality.

Slightly less enamoured with Johnson than the BBC has been the liberal Guardian, Britain’s supposedly chief “opposition” newspaper to the ruling Conservative government. But the Guardian has been surprisingly late to this party too. Typical of its newly aggressive approach to Johnson was a piece published on Saturday by its columnist Jonathan Freedland, titled “Scandal upon scandal: the charge sheet that should have felled Johnson years ago”.

As this article rightly documents, Johnson is an inveterate dissembler, and one whose lies have been visibly piling up since he entered 10 Downing Street. His propensity to lie is not new. It was well-know to anyone who worked with him in his earlier career in journalism or when he was an aspiring politician. It is not the “scandals” that are new, it’s the media’s interest in documenting them that is.

And when the liar-in-chef is also the prime minister, those lies invariably end up masking high-level corruption, the kind of corruption that has the capacity to destroy lives – many lives.

So why are Johnson’s well-known deceptions only becoming a “mainstream” issue now – and why, in particular, is a liberal outlet like the Guardian picking up the baton on this matter so late in the day? As Freedland rightly observes, these scandals have been around for many years, so why wasn’t the Guardian on Johnson’s case from the outset, setting the agenda?

Or put another way, why has the drive to expose Johnson been led not by liberal journalists like Freedland but chiefly by a disillusioned old-school conservative worried about the damage Johnson is doing to his political tradition? Freedland is riding on the coat-tails of former Telegraph journalist Peter Oborne, who wrote a recent book on Johnson’s fabrications, The Assault on Truth. Further, Johnson’s deceptions have gone viral not because of the efforts of the Guardian but because of a video compilation on social media of some of Johnson’s biggest whoppers by lawyer and independent journalist Peter Stefanovic.

Part of the answer, of course, is that until recently the Guardian, along with the rest of the corporate media, had a much more pressing task than holding Britain’s prime minister to account for lies – and the corruption they obscure – that have drained the Treasury of the nation’s wealth, redirecting it towards a bunch of Tory donors, and subsequently contributed to at least a proportion of Covid-19 deaths.

The Guardian was preoccupied with making sure that Johnson was not replaced by an opposition leader who spoke, for the first time in more than a generation, about the need for wealth redistribution and a fairer society.

On the political scales weighing what was most beneficial for the country, it was far more important to the Guardian to keep then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his democratic socialist agenda out of Downing Street than make sure Britain was run in accordance with the rule of law, let alone according to the principles of fairness and decency.

Now with Corbyn long gone, the political conditions to take on Johnson are more favourable. Covid-19 cases in the UK have plummeted, freeing up a little space on front pages for other matters. And Corbyn’s successor, Keir Starmer, has used the past year to prove over and over again to the media that he has been scrupulous about purging socialism from the Labour party.

The trouble is, Cook reminds us, that now Starmer is leader and the BBC and Guardian finally have a man they can trust, the candidate himself is already a busted flush – a point that has been hammered home following Labour’s humiliating defeat in the Hartlepool by-election and their dismal results across the local councils. Results so bad that Starmer felt obliged to make his excuses in advance! This excruciating statement was released the day before polling:

In light this, the very same liberal media outlets that smeared Corbyn relentlessly, dragging his reputation through the mud and reinforcing the view he was ‘unelectable’, while, for the sake of this strategy, they averted public scrutiny from the many skeletons piled up in Johnson’s cupboard, are now anxious to downplay their own role in reshaping the political landscape and eager to shift the blame:

But the problem for the Guardian is that Johnson’s polling figures are remarkably buoyant, despite the growing media criticism of him. He continues to outpoll Starmer. His Midas touch needs explaining. And the Guardian is growing ever more explicit about where the fault is to be found. With us.

Or as Freedland observes:

“Maybe the real scandal lies with us, the electorate, still seduced by a tousled-hair rebel shtick and faux bonhomie that should have palled years ago… For allowing this shameless man to keep riding high, some of the shame is on us.”

Freedland is far from alone in peddling this line. Kuenssberg, in her BBC piece, offers a variant:

“An insider told me: ‘He frequently leaves people with the belief that he has told them one thing, but he has given himself room for manoeuvre,’ believing that, ‘the fewer cast iron positions you hold the better, because you can always change political direction.’

“The verbal flourishes and rhetorical tricks are part of the reason why he has prospered. ‘A lot of his magic has been those off-the-cuff comments, that’s why a lot of the public like him,’ says an ally.”

In other words, we see what we want to see. Johnson is the vessel into which we pour our hopes and dreams, while he has the tough challenge of making our melange of hopes and dreams a tangible, workable reality.

Liberal journalists have been on this “blame the voters” path for a while. When it was Corbyn and his “dangerous” socialism being pitted against the Tories’ crony capitalism, the Guardian enthusiastically joined the smear campaign against Labour. That included evidence-free claims of an “institutional antisemitism” crisis under Corbyn’s leadership.

And yet despite the media’s best endeavours, Corbyn appalled journalists like Freedland at the 2017 general election by winning Labour’s biggest rise in vote share since 1945. Corbyn denied the Conservatives a majority and was a few thousand votes from winning outright – something Starmer can only dream of at the moment, despite Johnson’s exposure as an inveterate liar and conman. And Corbyn achieved this while the Labour party machine, and the entire corporate media, were vehemently against him.

Last night’s C4 News interviewed Jeremy Corbyn about Labour’s election failure and asked him whether he thought Starmer (who oversaw Corbyn’s suspension) should now resign. With characteristic munificence, Corbyn replied “it’s up to him what he decides to do”:

Meanwhile, after waiting all day for the Labour leader to front up and face the public over the party’s historic loss of Hartlepool (which is so significant, it is being reported right around the world today) – Sir Keir Starmer finally appeared on BBC News just after 4pm only to blither and prevaricate in the most embarrassing interview of his lacklustre political career:

Jonathan Cook continues:

The problem is not that most voters have failed to understand that Johnson is corrupt, though given the corrupt nature of the British corporate media – the Guardian very much included – they are hardly well positioned to appreciate the extent of Johnson’s corruption.

It is not even that they know that he is corrupt but do not care.

Rather, the real problem is that significant sections of the electorate have rightly come to the realisation that the wider political system within which Johnson operates is corrupt too. So corrupt, in fact, that it may be impossible to fix. Johnson is simply more open, and honest, about how he exploits the corrupt system. […]

The truly astonishing thing is that those who lied us into the Iraq war, destabilising the Middle East and provoking an exodus from the region that has fuelled a surge in xenophobic politics across Europe; those who broke the financial system through their greed and incompetence and lied their way out of the consequences, forcing the rest of us to foot the bill; and those who lied about the ecological catastrophes unfolding over the past half century so that they could go on lining their own pockets; none of them paid any price at all for their mendacity, for their deceptions, for their corruption. Not only that, but they have grown richer, more powerful, more respected because of the lies.

One only needs to look at the fate of that unapologetic pair of war criminals, Tony Blair and George W Bush. The former has amassed wealth like a black hole sucks in light, and preposterously is still regularly called on by the media to pontificate on ethical issues in British politics. And the latter has been rehabilitated as a once-wayward, now beloved, irreverent uncle to the nation, one whose humanity has supposedly been underscored simply by making sure he was filmed “sneaking” a sweet to his presidential successor’s wife.

Perhaps not so surprisingly, a remedy to Britain’s self-evidently flawed political system was thrown up – in the form of Corbyn. He was a throwback, the very antithesis of the modern politicians who had brought us to the brink of ruin on multiple fronts. He was not venal, nor a narcissist. His concern was improving the lives of ordinary people, not the bank balances of corporate donors. He was against colonial-style wars to grab other countries’ resources. The things that made him a laughing stock with the political elite – his cheap clothes, his simple life, his allotment – made him appealing to large sections of the electorate.

For many, Corbyn was the last gasp for a system they had given up on. He might prove their growing cynicism about politics wrong. His success might demonstrate that the system could be fixed, and that all was not lost.

Except that is not how it played out. The entire political and media class – even the military – turned on Corbyn. They played the man, not the ball – and when it came to the man, any and all character assassination was justified. He had been a Soviet agent. He was a threat to Britain’s security. His IQ was too low to be prime minister. He was a secret antisemite.

The article is an excellent one and I shall leave the rest for you to read by following the links. Except I will add the concluding paragraph, because it sums up everything so beautifully:

Liberals are mystified by this reading of politics. They, after all, are emotionally invested in a supposedly meritocratic system from which they personally benefited for so long. They would rather believe the lie that a good political system is being corrupted by rotten politicians and a stupid electorate than the reality that a corrupt political system is being exploited by those best placed to navigate its corrupt ways.

Click here to read the full article entitled “Boris Johnson’s Lies Don’t Harm Him Because the UK’s Political System is More Corrupt Than He Is” by Jonathan Cook, published in Counterpunch on May 6th.

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Additional: further links recommended by Electronic Intifada

If you want to read more about the issues raised in the mini-documentary “How they brought down Jeremy Corbyn”, here’s a list of useful articles:

Finally, click here to read an extended article detailing the Israel lobby’s campaign to “take down” Corbyn and other prominent MPs based on the four-part Al Jazeera investigative series The Lobby.

And here to read a follow-up piece about the Israel lobby’s tactics in US politics based on Al Jazeera’s documentary sequel The Lobby – USA.

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Filed under analysis & opinion, Britain

one year of Keir Starmer and his open war on the Labour left: my exchange of letters with constituency Labour MP Paul Blomfield

Keir Starmer became Labour leader one year ago today, having comfortably won the leadership race against Rebecca Long-Bailey and Lisa Nandy, gaining an unassailable 56.2% of the vote in the first round of the election. As leader, Starmer has since failed to offer any effective opposition to what has been and continues to be an incompetent, corrupt, reactionary and increasingly authoritarian Tory government.

Moreover, rather than unifying the Labour Party as he pledged to do, under the guise of tackling antisemitism, Starmer set his sights instead on crushing the progressive wing with a series of attacks to undermine those closest to former leader Jeremy Corbyn, promptly sacking Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet. Starmer’s war on the left culminated with his full endorsement of the decision to suspend Corbyn, who is yet to have the whip re-instated and now sits as an independent backbench MP, where even in this diminished capacity he still offers more effective opposition than Sir Keir:

And here is Corbyn speaking out to protect our civil liberties and democratic right to protest at yesterday’s #KillTheBill rally:

On Wednesday 24th February inspired by a short interview featuring the editor of Tribune, Ronan Burtenshaw (embedded below), I penned a quick letter to my local MP Paul Blomfield, the former Shadow Minister for Brexit and EU Negotiations, inviting him to watch the video in question. Reproduced below is the full exchange of letters unabridged and augmented with further links and additional video:

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Dear Paul,

I think you should know how I and many other members of the Labour Party are feeling at this moment. I encourage you therefore to spend just ten minutes watching this short film:

Ronan Burtenshaw speaks for literally hundreds of thousands of us, some of whom have already torn up their membership cards and walked away from the party in disgust.

If the leadership and the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party] continue to act in this way then Labour will lose many more members. Its grassroots base will very likely collapse. And if this isn’t already concerning enough, then I ask you also to consider the broader impact on our democracy once the party is divorced from the people, and the electorate again stops trusting our politicians. Look at the effects in America.

I cannot put my true feelings into words here which is why I very sincerely encourage you to watch the film.

Hope you are well in these difficult times.

Kind regards,

James

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Respectfully he did watch the video and replied to me on Friday 5th March:

Dear James,

Thanks for your email sharing your views about Keir’s leadership of the Labour Party.

I watched the video, but I don’t think it provides a very accurate picture of what’s happening in the party at the moment. I find it extraordinary that it criticises the current party leadership for serving in Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet while disagreeing with some of his policies. It suggests that this is duplicity, where actually it’s loyalty to the Labour cause. We come together in political parties around shared values, with lots of different views; we make our arguments on specific policies but back what is agreed.

I’ve disagreed with every leader of the Labour Party on something, but we should always work positively to engage, not simply look to oppose at every turn which I fear that some in the Party are seeking to do at the moment. You’ll know that Jeremy’s suspension is due to his refusal to apologise for his comments on the EHRC report, not to do with his leadership or any other issue.

I also don’t recognise your characterisation of the huge loss of members during Keir’s tenure either. In November 2019 (the last set of NEC elections during Jeremy’s leadership) there were around 430,000 members. In January this year there were around 459,000.

You’re right that it’s a serious problem for democracy when people stop trusting politicians; and turning to populism – of the right or left – is not the answer. We obviously lost the trust of a significant section of our traditional supporters in recent years, leading us to the worst electoral defeat since 1935. It’s a long haul back, but we have picked up more than 20 points in the polls since last April and Keir is rated as the most popular Labour politician (see more here).

I’m a bit puzzled by your comments about the USA where there has been a troubling polarisation of politics, with the left losing some of its traditional base, but people put their faith in the biggest charlatan in the country’s history. Let’s take comfort from the fact  that Trump lost the Presidential election, and the Biden Administration has used its position to begin to set right some of the most divisive policies – such stopping the ‘building of the wall’, launching a government initiative on racial equality, cancelling the racist ‘Muslim ban’ and rejoining the Paris Climate Accord.

Thanks again for writing and for your good wishes. I hope you’re keeping well too.

With best wishes Paul.

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I then replied to Paul Blomfield the same day but at greater length – supporting links with URL addresses are as in the original but I have also included further links and Youtube clips including the interview with Andrew Feinstein:

Dear Paul,

Thank you for watching the video I sent and for your thoughtful and full reply.

Firstly, I would like to address the issue surrounding membership. Since I do not have access to the Labour database I am forced to rely on what I hear from fellow members and from the most recent newspaper reports. Regarding anecdotal evidence, it is very clear to me that I am not alone. Of the members I know personally or know through social media, many have resigned their membership; countless others feel betrayed and deceived by Keir Starmer’s calls for unity and reconciliation; and the vast majority are now terribly demoralised. As for reliable numbers:

LABOUR has lost over 50,000 members since Keir Starmer became leader, according to the party’s own election records.

UK Labour held its National Executive Committee (NEC) elections this week, which was won by the party’s left-wing faction.

In the NEC election, 495,961 members of the party were listed as eligible to vote.

When Starmer was elected to the leadership position after Jeremy Corbyn stood down, there were 552,835 registered Labour party members.

Those figures mean the party has lost 56,874 members since April

From an article published on November 14th by The National: https://www.thenational.scot/news/18871910.labour-nec-vote-reveals-drop-party-membership-since-keir-starmers-election/

When it comes to Labour’s electoral chances, if this decline is true then, as I wrote before, it will have a devastating effect on doorstep canvassing. The drop in revenue also means that the party will now have to become increasingly reliant on wealthy and corporate donors.

You say that “we obviously lost the trust of a significant section of our traditional supporters in recent years, leading us to the worst electoral defeat since 1935. It’s a long haul back, but we have picked up more than 20 points in the polls since last April and Keir is rated as the most popular Labour politician.”

Labour lost its traditional base once it came to be seen as untrustworthy. This happened when it flip-flopped over Brexit and moved from its successful stance of accepting the referendum vote in 2017 (losing by the tiniest margin of just 2.5%) to its slow adoption of calls for a second vote. Many on the left forecast this repercussion; as you may recall, I was one [see here]. The chief architect of Labour’s Brexit strategy was Keir Starmer, so he must take some of the responsibility for Labour’s dreadful 2019 defeat.

I don’t trust opinion polls very much and I think that constantly relying on them to guide us is a bad habit, and indeed one that smacks of populism. That said, at the time of the last election, the Tories won with short of a 12% lead over Labour whereas the latest opinion poll currently gives them a 13% lead. This evaluation comes after a truly disastrous year when abject incompetence and corruption in the government’s handling of the pandemic has resulted in more than a hundred thousand deaths and will leave millions of people unemployed or otherwise desperate. Of course, Corbyn’s popularity figures remained comparatively low throughout his leadership (for reasons I shall come to), but Starmer’s figures have recently nosedived too and now fallen below Corbyn’s peak. Perhaps the latest report from Yougov is illuminating in this regard:

“Starmer’s main cause for concern is that a quarter (24%) of those who voted Labour in 2019 have an unfavourable view of their party leader, although 60% still hold a favourable opinion. In fact, his personal approval rating is now better amongst 2019 Lib Dem voters, who have a favourable opinion of him by 68% to 19%. He also has the support of one in five (21%) 2019 Conservative voters.”

That he is most favoured today by Lib Dem voters certainly does not support the view that he will begin winning back traditional Labour supporters any time soon.

Keir Starmer’s decline in net satisfaction over first 12 months image

Click here to find the same graphic on page 15 of the Ipsos MORI report from March 2021.

You write that: “I’m a bit puzzled by your comments about the USA where there has been a troubling polarisation of politics, with the left losing some of its traditional base, but people put their faith in the biggest charlatan in the country’s history.” The point – not really my point – is that when people lose faith in democracy they often seem to turn to fascism. And I think we may agree that with the election of Trump, America has already moved to the cusp of turning fascist.

The difference here is that I put no faith in Biden at all because I see no reason to do so. Under Biden I fully anticipate a return to the kinds of policies that we had under Obama and without going into the details of what was wrong with Obama’s domestic and foreign policy, I would simply make the obvious point that Trump’s success followed immediately on the heels of Obama’s two terms in office. Clearly those eight years of “hope and change” left many Americans feeling little more than despair and desperation. After Biden, the same will very likely happen although with still more dangerous consequences because the situation gradually worsens with each cycle of neoliberal failure.

Finally, I shall address the most contentious of the points you have raised. To those on the left of the party the suspension of Corbyn is very evidently a politically-motivated act. In the statement in question, Corbyn said anti-Semitism was “absolutely abhorrent” and “one anti-Semite is one too many” in the party. These views are ones he has consistently upheld and are views that most of us share.

He then went on to say: “The scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.” There are actually two issues here. Firstly, on what grounds is it improper for him to defend the party and himself against perceived smears by political opponents and the media?  Secondly, is his opinion false? What is the available evidence here?

I refer you to Al Jazeera’s undercover investigative series “The Lobby” broadcast in 2017. In light of Al Jazeera’s revelations, then-shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry called on the government to launch an immediate inquiry into “improper interference in our democratic politics”.

She said in parliament: “The exposure of an Israeli embassy official discussing how to bring down or discredit a government minister and other MPs because of their views on the Middle East is extremely disturbing.”

Note that: Thornberry’s statement can also be found on the Labour Party website: https://labour.org.uk/press/reports-of-israeli-embassy-official-discussing-how/

Although this story briefly hit the headlines, the main focus of Al Jazeera’s investigation and its disclosure of a dirty tricks campaign against both pro-Palestinian Labour members and also to subvert Corbyn’s leadership has been quietly buried by the media.

Moreover, in January 2017, BBC Trust felt obliged to issue a retraction and an admission that it breached its own accuracy and impartiality rules during a news report about Jeremy Corbyn’s view on shoot-to-kill policy, writing: “The breach of due accuracy on such a highly contentious political issue meant that the output had not achieved due impartiality.” Here is another indication of the media’s hostility toward Corbyn, and I will add that in response, James Harding, Director of BBC News, remained unapologetic saying (as the BBC itself reported): “While we respect the Trust and the people who work there, we disagree with this finding.”

I remind you that Keir Starmer also sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey merely for retweeting a quote with a link to respectable newspaper article on the grounds that it promoted a “conspiracy theory”.

Below is the first part of Rebecca Long-Bailey’s Twitter thread apology and retraction:

Without wishing to get into the weeds, the claims made in the article in question were untrue only in the specific case of the George Floyd killing, because it irrefutably is the case that police officers in the US are being trained by Israel Defense Forces [as Amnesty International reported in 2016] and that the IDF does use a similar kind of neck restraint against Palestinians [as Jonathan Cook reports here]. As you are no doubt aware, they also routinely shoot at unarmed protesters using live ammunition.

Here is a video report also posted by Amnesty International:

And here is a video showing an IDF soldier using the same neck restraint against a Palestinian man:

Going back to Corbyn’s statement, in my view he is justifiably defending himself against an attack-dog media and those who were actively working within the party to undermine him. But my own central points are actually these: Firstly, that Corbyn is not and has never been a racist. Indeed, even his fiercest opponents have never seriously charged him with racism and that is because his antiracist position is active, long-standing and unimpeachable. Secondly, and more broadly, we must never allow criticism of Israel to be suppressed on the totally spurious charge of antisemitism. I fear that even writing this may put me somehow in breach of the party’s current position, since I fail to understand how Corbyn’s statement is more sanctionable than any of the thoughts expressed here.

Embedded below is an interview with Andrew Feinstein, former South African MP who served under Nelson Mandela and author of “The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade”, discussing Keir Starmer’s ‘New’ New Labour, how the factional and weaponised use of ‘antisemitism’ is used to purge the left from the Labour party:

In this regard I stand with Jewish Voice for Labour who released the following statement:

We are appalled that Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended and had the whip withdrawn. He has a proud record of fighting all forms of racism including antisemitism. We call on Labour Party members to protest against this unjustified outrage in the strongest terms and through all channels available to us. This is an attack not just on Jeremy, but on the party membership. Do not leave, organise and fight back.

You can read their views on the EHRC report here: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/the-ehrc-report-an-interim-response/

Very glad to hear that you are well and I’d like to thank you again for taking the time and trouble to reply to my letter.

Best wishes,

James

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I received a reply from Paul Blomfield on Tuesday 16th March:

Dear James

Thanks for your further email. I just wanted to respond on a couple of your points.

Membership numbers fluctuate and, while the figures showed some decline from the highest-ever level in January 2020, they are still well above the 430,359 in November 2019. Any decline in membership is clearly disappointing, but the increase in public support is encouraging. I don’t know the potential negative affect this might have on canvassing teams. After the mass influx of new members in 2015 and 2016, there was no noticeable increase in campaigning members, so I’m not sure there’s a direct correlation.

You also make the point that Labour is in danger of losing more of its ‘traditional base’ voters, or not winning them back soon. It is a real issue; democratic socialist parties across Europe have faced a gradual loss of this support over at least the last 15 years, and in the UK this far pre-dates Brexit. In 2017, under Jeremy’s leadership, the trend continued and, while we won seats in metropolitan areas, we lost Mansfield, North East Derbyshire and other such ‘traditional Labour’ seats. Bringing together a winning electoral coalition is a complex challenge – but one that we have been considering and working on for a decade. I would also point out that our 2019 Brexit policy was not Keir’s, but one that Jeremy wanted and was secured at Conference with the support of Len McCluskey, who later wrote this piece claiming that it “should be a vote-winner”.

I agree with you that over-reliance on polls outside election periods isn’t always helpful, but as you will recognise, in the days before Keir became leader we were 20 points behind and we’re now in a much stronger position – while Johnson enjoys a current ‘bounce’ from the successful vaccination programme (which is frustrating as it’s the hard-working NHS staff that his Government has denied a fair pay settlement to who are rolling it out!)

With best wishes

Paul

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My final thoughts: Although I reject Paul Blomfield’s contention that “our 2019 Brexit policy was not Keir’s, but one that Jeremy wanted…” I have not replied to him since it seemed that our sequence of correspondence had run its course. I’d like sincerely to thank him again for taking such trouble to reply in fullness to my concerns.

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Additional:

Michael Walker and Aaron Bastani of Novara Media marked the anniversary with their own review on Friday 2nd:

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Filed under analysis & opinion, Britain, campaigns & events, Israel, police state, Uncategorized

WitchHunt: the political lynching of Jackie Walker

“Some of us would say it was mostly a constructed crisis for political ends. I would say there was a crisis of the way that antisemitism is being manipulated and being used by certain parts of, not just the Labour Party but other parties, and the media to discredit Jeremy Corbyn and a number of his supporters. I mean let’s disagree politically: I’m anti-Zionist, they’re pro-Zionist… Let’s have THAT argument. Not this one that’s going on at the moment.” — Jackie Walker 1

Embedded below is the short documentary film WitchHunt by Jon Pullman (duration: 60 mins) in which he puts into wider historical context the ongoing defamation of Labour Party members who have faced investigation for allegations of antisemitism after taking a stance on pro-Palestinian rights.

Released in February, the main focus of the film is the case of Jackie Walker, a black-Jewish political activist since been expelled from the party in March on the spurious charge of “misconduct”:

To provide further context I have also reprinted statements made by Jackie Walker and others writing in support, both in response to her initial suspension, and following her more recent expulsion.

Click here to reach the official website for the documentary.

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Praise for WitchHunt:

“Anyone who speaks or writes in the public domain about antisemitism and the current state of the Labour Party has a duty to see this film and address the issues it raises.” — Avi Shlaim, historian

“This impeccably-executed film exposes with chilling accuracy the terrifying threat that now confronts democracy, and the depressing intractability of the Israel-Palestine situation.” —Mike Leigh

“The case of Jackie Walker is important. This film asks whether her lengthy suspension from the Labour Party and attempts to expel her are fair, or an injustice which should be challenged. She is not the only one in this position. See the film and make up your own mind” — Ken Loach

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In Defence of Jackie Walker

We are Jewish Labour activists who were with Jackie Walker at the training session on antisemitism led by Mike Katz, vice chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) during the Labour Party conference in Liverpool on Monday September 26. Like her, some of us were heckled when we raised questions unpalatable to others in the audience who share the JLM’s bias towards Israel, its coupling of Jewish identity with Zionism and its insistence on the uniqueness of Jewish suffering.

Jackie had every right to question the JLM’s definition of antisemitism and the tendency of mainstream Jewish organisations to focus entirely on the slaughter of Jews when they commemorate the Nazi Holocaust. We share her determination to build greater awareness of other genocides, which are too often forgotten or minimised. Jackie responded appreciatively when one audience member described Holocaust memorial events involving Armenians and others.  She has since issued a statement on this issue, reproduced below.

We were shocked at the way the level of barracking rose as soon as Jackie began to speak. JLM supporters demonstrated contempt for her as a Jewish woman of African heritage who is a lifelong anti-racist advocate for the rights of minorities and a leading Labour Party activist in her Thanet constituency.

We unreservedly condemn allegations of antisemitism made against Jackie Walker. Calls for her to be disowned by the Momentum movement of which she is vice-chair, and for her to be suspended for a second time from the Labour Party, are reprehensible instances of the witch hunt to which she and other Corbyn supporters have been subjected over recent months.

The way Jackie has been treated demonstrates the unfitness of the JLM to deliver training on antisemitism. It is an organisation committed to one, contested strand of Jewish labour tradition to the exclusion of any other; it relies on a definition of antisemitism that conflates Jewish identity with Zionism; and it exploits its interactions with party members to set the limits of political discourse about the Middle East in accordance with its own partisan ideology.

By promoting the witch hunt, the JLM has helped to relegate the vile prejudice of antisemitism to a tool in the armoury of pro-Israel advocates, backed by Corbyn’s enemies in the political and media establishment.

Signed:

Graham Bash, Hackney North CLP
Rica Bird, Wirral South CLP
Leah Levane, Hastings and Rye CLP
Jonathan Rosenhead, Hackney South and Shoreditch CLP
Glyn Secker, Dulwich and West Norwood CLP
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Chingford and Woodford Green CLP

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Original statement by Jackie Walker

“A number of people made comments in a private training session run by the Jewish Labour Movement. As we all know, training sessions are intended to be safe spaces where ideas and questions can be explored. A film of this session was leaked to the press unethically. I did not raise a question on security in Jewish schools. The trainer raised this issue and I asked for clarification, in particular as all London primary schools, to my knowledge, have security and I did not understand the particular point the trainer was making. Having been a victim of racism I would never play down the very real fears the Jewish community have, especially in light of recent attacks in France.

In the session, a number of Jewish people, including me, asked for definitions of antisemitism. This is a subject of much debate in the Jewish community. I support David Schneider’s definition and utterly condemn anti-Semitism.

I would never play down the significance of the Shoah. Working with many Jewish comrades, I continue to seek to bring greater awareness of other genocides, which are too often forgotten or minimised. If offence has been caused, it is the last thing I would want to do and I apologise.”

Click here to read both statements at Free Speech on Israel published in September 2016.

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Press release by Jackie Walker – denied right to speak in her own defence

Today Jackie Walker was forced to withdraw from a Labour Party disciplinary hearing when the panel due to pronounce on her case refused to allow her to make a short opening statement in her defence. This was essential given the party’s refusal last week to deal with urgent questions from her lawyers about alarming last minute additions to the charges against her.

Background

Jackie Walker (a black Jewish Woman) was suspended from the Labour Party 2 ½ years ago for asking a Labour Party antisemitism trainer, at an antisemitism training event, for a definition of antisemitism. Since then she has been the subject of the most appalling and unrelenting racist abuse and threats, including a bomb threat.

Today Jackie Walker attended her long delayed Labour Party disciplinary hearing. She was accompanied by her defence witnesses and legal team; she had submitted over 400 pages of evidence in her defence but had been given no opportunity to respond to extra charges sent to her last week, along with a major revision to the basis on which allegations of antisemitism would be assessed. At the beginning of the hearing, the Chair advised Jackie Walker that this was to be an informal hearing and that she could address him by his first name. The Chair then invited procedural questions. Jackie asked to be allowed to make a brief opening address to the Chair and Panel. The team of Labour Party lawyers objected. The Chair adjourned the meeting to consider Jackie’s request to speak, and then ruled that she must remain silent. Jackie Walker had no alternative other than to withdraw from the hearing, as the panel’s decision demonstrated that she had no chance of a fair hearing in a process that has lacked equity and natural justice from the start.

Jackie Walker said:

“After almost three years of racist abuse and serious threats; of almost three years of being demonised, and now being ambushed by a batch of last minute changes, I was astounded that the Labour Party refused to allow me a few short moments to personally address the disciplinary panel to speak in my own defence. What is so dangerous about my voice that it is not allowed to be heard?”

All I have ever asked for is for equal treatment, due process and natural justice; it seems that this is too much to ask of the Labour Party.”

STATEMENT OF JACKIE WALKER

Today (26 March 2019) I (Jackie Walker) attended the long overdue Labour Party disciplinary hearing, before the Labour Party’s highest disciplinary panel (National Constitutional Committee). I was accompanied by my defence witnesses and legal team; I had submitted over 400 pages of evidence in my defence.

At the beginning of the hearing, the Chair advised me that this was to be an informal hearing and that I could address him by his first name. The Chair then invited procedural questions. Through my lawyer I asked to be allowed to make a brief opening address to the Chair and Panel. The large team of Labour Party lawyers objected. The Chair adjourned the meeting to consider my simple request to speak. Despite repeated requests from my lawyer that I be allowed to speak at the outset of my hearing, the Chair ruled that I remain silent. I therefore had no alternative other than to withdraw from the hearing, as it was clear to me that I would not receive a fair hearing.

Background

It is vital to appreciate the astonishing background of the process that has been applied by the Labour Party apparatus to me.

On 25 September 2016, at the Labour Party (LP) Conference in Liverpool, I attended a LP training event entitled ‘Confronting antisemitism and engaging with Jewish voters’. The training session was co-hosted by the LP with the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), and was presented by the vice-chair of the JLM, Mike Katz. The session was open to all LP members attending the Annual Conference.  As is normal practice the presenter encouraged and engaged in discussion and debate with attendees throughout the hour-long training session.

Towards the end session I put my hand up to speak and was invited by Mr Katz to ask a question/make a comment.

  1. I asked for a “definition of antisemitism”
  2. I commented “wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust day was open to all people who experience holocaust”, and
  3. I asked about security matters relating to the Jewish community.

I was secretly filmed by an unknown person who released the film of my contribution at the meeting to the media and footage of the closed training event was published online by newspapers. On 29 September 2016 the LP suspended me and subsequently charged me that my words were:

  • antisemitic;
  • inappropriate; and
  • undermined Labour’s ability to campaign against racism.

I am black.  I am Jewish. I am a woman.  I have spent my life fighting racism and inequality. My ethnicity, Jewish heritage and gender have brought me into direct conflict with those who abuse and threaten others on the basis of colour of skin, race, religion and gender. I abhor antisemitism. I abhor discrimination against black people. I abhor all discrimination.  I abhor the differential treatment of women. I absolutely and vehemently reject the charges made against me by the LP.  For 2 ½ years I have faced a grossly unfair disciplinary process that has now reached new heights of staggering unfairness.

The increasing instances of serious unfair process have become intolerable in the weeks leading up to this hearing.  Unfair process had infected all aspects of the LP investigation and prosecution.  My fundamental right to a fair hearing has been wholly compromised by the conduct of the LP.

1. LP submission on what constitutes anti-Semitism

The definition of what is antisemitism (as opposed to legitimate criticism of the state of Israel) deserves serious respectful political debate, including controversial debate. It defies all logic, and threatens the essence of free speech, to be accused of antisemitism for simply asking the fundamental question: what is antisemitism?

The recent NEC Code of Conduct on Antisemitism was not in existence at the time of the training session in September 2016.  The endorsement by the LP of the IHRA definition of antisemitism did not take place until after the Conference of 2016.  The endorsement by the LP was the subject of significant debate. The endorsement is “to assist in understanding what constitutes antisemitism”. In fact during the training session Mike Katz referred not to the IHRA definition but to the European Union Monitoring Centre’s definition. The LP now submits that the test to be applied to an allegation of antisemitism against me “does not require the NCC to engage in a debate as to the proper definition of anti-Semitism” but rather whether an ‘ordinary person hearing or reading the comments might reasonably perceive them to be antisemitic’.  That is an extraordinary dilution of the adopted test of “hatred towards Jews” which is a definition of antisemitism with which I wholeheartedly agree.

2. LP relies on racist statements to prosecute me

It is beyond any sense of fair process that in prosecuting me for antisemitism for my asking a training session for a definition of antisemitism in September 2016, that the LP, astonishingly, has submitted racist and discriminatory statements made about my colour, gender, appearance, ethnicity and heritage, to support its misconceived case against me.

The LP relies on anonymous witnesses who have written:

“[JW is] a white middle-aged woman with dreadlocks”

“Walker- who claims to be part Jewish”

And also on the written witness evidence of Mike Katz who states:

“… JW uses her self-identification as a black woman and a Jew as cover to put her beyond criticism…”

There is no conceivable place in a fair disciplinary process for such statements to be allowed in evidence.

As a black person I have long campaigned for the proper recognition and memorialisation of those who died and suffered during the shameful period of the slave trade.  During the training session I was making the point that it would be fitting to include the victims of the slave trade as well as other pre-Nazi genocides in the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations.  In prosecuting me for raising that comment, again astonishingly, the LP relies on an anonymous witness who writes:

​“I am not at all happy regarding her obsession with African genocide and the holocaust

I have repeatedly asked those conducting my disciplinary process for anonymous and racist evidence to be removed from the evidence presented by the LP.  My applications have not been agreed.

That is unfair.

I applied to the Panel to adjourn my case to allow the reliance on racist material by the LP to be referred to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for investigation. My application was rejected.

That is unfair.

3. Other racist and threatening remarks 

I have been subjected to threatening, racist and abusive remarks throughout the time I have had to wait for the LP to carry out its disciplinary process. Some examples of the material sent to me have included:

​“Jackie Walker is as Jewish as a pork pie, stop harassing Jews you f―king Nazi scum”

“Jackie Walker and her defenders can go hang”

“Jackie Walker’s Jewishness is a hastily constructed identity to protect her from the backlash of her antisemitic comments”

“Her father whom she barely knew apparently was Jewish so she isn’t Jewish…nothing to do with her colour”

“We should send people like you to the f―king gas chamber! Palestine does not exist, nor did it ever exist. Israel has been a Jewish homeland for 3,000 years! Moron”

“Was that thunderc―t referring to you wanting to see Corbyn shove Jackie Walker into a burning bin? You didn’t mention ethnicity”

“God, what a f―king anti-Semite black Jewish working class female Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker is! Can’t think why Labour want rid”

[expurgated version]

The above examples were submitted by me as part of my documents in the disciplinary process yet the Panel hearing my case still did not allow my application to remove racist and discriminatory evidence being relied on by the LP.

That is unfair.

4. Secret Panel to hear my case

Until this morning I had not been allowed to know the identities of those who are to sit in judgment on my case despite the LP presenter and the LP legal team being aware of the identities since last year.

Initially the LP claimed that it would not  release details of the Panel to me or my solicitors, because of security concerns. The clear discriminatory inference is that I as a black person am prone to trouble and/or violence; that whenever black people and their supporters gather to object or protest there is a tendency to disorder causing a security risk. This is plain racist discriminatory negative stereotyping.

When pressed, the LP confirmed it has not received any threats relating to my case but still refused to let me know the identities of Panel members.  I could not carry out any background checks on previous statements or connections of the Panel members to assess the risk of bias and lack of independence.

That is unfair.

5. Secret venue

For personal reasons, of which the Panel is aware, I wanted to visit the hearing centre to familiarise myself with the venue.  The LP refused to let me know where the hearing was to take place until 4 working days before the hearing which was too late for me to make a familiarisation visit.

That was unfair.

6. Failing to put intended charges to me

I am also charged with bringing the Party into disrepute for pursing my legal rights against the LP for a serious breach of my personal data held by them.  I am being charged for defending my rights. The charge was never put to me at the lengthy investigatory meeting I had with the LP investigator or at any other time during the almost 2 year long investigation stage of the process.  I was never given an opportunity to explain my position before a one-sided decision was made by the LP to charge me. When I protested that it was a clear breach of natural justice to go straight to a charge without seeking my comment at the investigatory stage I was told by the LP that:

“Natural justice does not require that she [JW] also has the opportunity to respond at an investigatory stage”

Trade Unions built the LP.  It is unthinkable that a trade union would accept a disciplinary process that completely by-passes the investigatory stage and goes straight to a disciplinary charge without any input or comment from the person to be charged.  It is unthinkable that a police investigation would go straight to charge without interviewing the accused to seek comment.

Yet that is what the LP has done to me.

That is unfair.

7. Lack or loss of investigatory records

When I pointed out that some of the evidence to be relied on by the LP at the hearing had never been put to me during the investigation interview, the LP admitted in writing that:

 “The NEC wishes firstly to record that the precise details of the matters put to Ms Walker during the investigatory interview are not known to those now presenting the case, as the interviewer is no longer in post.”

It is incomprehensible that in such a serious case, where charges of antisemitism are being made against me, that an accurate and complete record has not been kept by the LP of their own investigation.

In light of my previous grave concerns about the unlawful handling of my personal data I am extremely concerned that there have been further breaches of Data Protection laws concerning the management by the LP of my personal data.

That is unfair.

8. Late submission of evidence by LP

On 20 March 2019 the LP served more evidence on me that it intends to rely on at the hearing due to start today. I was not given time to consider the fresh evidence, assess the context of that evidence and to counter that evidence.  An application for an adjournment of the hearing to allow me time to deal with the evidence in the nine new documents served so late was not allowed by the Panel.

That is unfair.

9. Prejudicial public statements by Labour MPs

My case has attracted significant public interest and comment in the press, most of which has been ill-informed and biased. However I have also been subjected to significant negative prejudicial statements from Labour MPs making it impossible for me to have a fair hearing within the LP.  I have made complaint of this and was told this would be discussed with the General Secretary however, this behaviour persisted. If this were in another setting the MPs could be found to be in contempt of court.

For example, on 27 February 2019 on House of Commons letterhead thirty-eight MPs, members of Labour Tribune, put their names to a letter written to the General Secretary of the Labour Party wherein I was clearly referred to and where it was said that I was:

​“…someone who has been thrown out of the party for making antisemitic comments”.

Those MPs would have been aware that their letter, which was published online and in the press, would seriously prejudice my hearing due to take place within a month of their letter. They were giving a clear steer and signal to the Panel of what the outcome of my hearing is to be. They wrongly identified me as someone expelled from the LP and wrongly identified me as someone who has been found to be antisemitic by the LP.

On 22 March 2019 the MailOnline published an article entitled “Shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s ‘anti-Semitic’ ally must be expelled, or Labour ‘has no future ’MPs warn”. The article states:

“Her [JW] case will finally come before Labour’s disciplinary panel on Tuesday after two-and-a–half years of delay. Backbenchers said the party must ensure she is expelled- if Labour is to have any chance of proving it is not institutionally anti-Semitic.

Dame Margaret Hodge said: ‘It’s extraordinary that it has taken so long to bring her to an expulsion hearing. Tough action must be taken but one expulsion will not solve a far deeper cultural problem that has infected the party”

Backbenchers, and in particular Dame Margaret Hodge, have directly interfered in my right to a fair hearing. They have prejudiced a fair hearing by making such prejudicial statements only one working day before my hearing. Their aim is obvious. Hodge has given the clearest possible signal to the Panel of the outcome she wants and expects.

The interference in the disciplinary process by these MPs has made it impossible for me to have a fair hearing.

That is unfair.

My decision to withdraw from this hearing

Faced with an inherently racist disciplinary process where the evidence of abusive racists is relied on by the LP to prosecute me; faced with multiple examples of a grossly unfair process in the investigation and prosecution of my case and the conduct of my case at the NEC and NCC Panel stages; faced with the discriminatory secrecy of the Panel appointed by the LP to hear my case; and faced with the prejudicial public statements by Labour MPs preventing my ability to have a fair hearing, I am left with no confidence whatsoever  in the ability of the LP to conduct a fair disciplinary process.

I am expected to appear before an unfair Panel where the LP has ridden roughshod over my rights in its headlong blinkered hankering to expel me from the Party to satisfy the wishes of those who are not involved in the detail of my case but who have judged me unfairly and have already condemned me.

I have spoken of a lynching and a witch hunt.  If I were in a fair, independent and unbiased court I would say “I rest my case”.

In such an unfair and biased process I do not now recognise the ability of the LP disciplinary process to investigate and try my case with the equality and blind fairness everyone should expect of a democratic process that recognises the primary importance of the rule of law and fair due process.

“As a result of the truly astonishing decision this morning to prevent me from even addressing the disciplinary panel at the outset in my own defence, I was left with no option but to withdraw from the disciplinary process”

Jackie Walker

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Click here to read the same press release at Labour Against the Witch Hunt.

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Addendum: The blacklisting of Jackie Walker

The following passages are reprinted in full from an earlier post published on March 1st 2017 entitled “Shai Masot, the Israel lobby, and its part in the ongoing coup against Jeremy Corbyn”.

All quotes are from episodes 2 and 3 of the Al Jazeera documentary series The Lobby, entitled respectively “The Training Session” and “An Antisemitic Trope”, and both episodes are embedded below.

Here is episode 2:

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“I was seeking information and I still haven’t heard a definition of antisemitism that I can work with” — Jackie Walker 2

In episode 2 [of Al Jazeera‘s documentary series The Lobby], undercover reporter ‘Robin’ travels to the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. There he meets up with a sizeable pro-Israel delegation, including Russell Langer, who is the former Campaigns Director at the Union of Jewish Students (UJC) and current Public Affairs Manager with the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), an influential umbrella group of Jewish organisations in Britain.

Langer tells ‘Robin’: “There’s a Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East [event] at 2:30, which I’ll be going to, so I need to charge my phone up so I can get some more recordings.”3 Many others within the pro-Israel delegation also attend the event as ‘spies’ (a shared joke amongst themselves). One is Luke Akehurst, someone Shai Masot describes as “a great campaigner” and “one of the best in the inside… in all the party”, 4 and head of We Believe in Israel, itself an affiliated branch of BICOM. We learn that Akehurst is intending to write a report of the LFPME event.

Later, we see secretly recorded footage from a different scheduled event. It is a ‘training session’ hosted by Mike Katz, the Vice Chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM).

Katz opens his session with a presentation entitled “Antisemitism as a phenomenon across the world” during which he informs the delegates about the worrying trend in statistics collected by the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity set up to monitor levels of antisemitism across Britain: “they recorded 557 antisemitic incidents across the UK in the first six months of 2016. That is an 11% increase in the period in 2015. 2014 was the most antisemitic year on record.”5

Also at the meeting is Labour Party member Christine Tongue who directly challenges the SCT claims saying: “I’m wondering if I’m now going on that list because my MP actually sent a letter to Jeremy Corbyn asking him to bar me from a rally in Ramsgate because I was an example of antisemitism. Because his office had trawled through my facebook page and found an article that I shared by Norman Finkelstein.”6

The son of two Jewish holocaust survivors yet staunchly pro-Palestinian, Finkelstein is the bane of the Israel lobby in America. Apparently, he had jokingly proposed a way of ending the occupation of Palestine by resituating Israel within the territory of the United States.

In reposting Finkelstein’s joke, however, Christine Tongue, certainly in the eyes of the Israel lobby, was deemed guilty of the “new antisemitism”, which, as Katz elucidates during the same session, regards any attacks that delegitimise the state of Israel as antisemitic because: “Israel is an integral part of the vast majority of the Jewish community’s identity”.7 According to this standard, Norman Finkelstein and fellow Jews critical of Israeli policy are likewise denigrated as “self-hating”.

Graham Bash was another Labour Party member who had joined the session. Bash told the audience: “I’m Jewish and I don’t agree with the concept of a Jewish state because it gives me the right to live in Israel whereas a Palestinian who’s been displaced has a lesser right than me. So when you say it’s not appropriate [“to delegitimise the right of Israel to exist”], are you really saying it’s not appropriate for us to have a political discussion?”8

Another outspoken delegate at the same session was Jackie Walker, who along with her partner, is Jewish too. Walker, both a political activist and long-standing anti-racist campaigner, was as then Vice Chair of Momentum. And she responded to Katz as follows:

“If you are saying effectively that Zionism, you know, is not open to debate as a concept, then that is really worrying. Antisemitism, like any form of racism, is deplorable, and my feeling about how to tackle this is for Jews to be standing firmly and squarely alongside our Black comrades, our Muslim comrades, who are much more at the moment the target of racism than thankfully at the moment we are…”9

After delivering her rebuttal, Walker is heard to receive a brief ripple of appreciative applause, and yet soon afterwards she became the centre of a headline-making scandal that would revive allegations of increasing antisemitism within ‘Corbyn’s Labour Party’:

Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker has been suspended from Labour over controversial comments she made at a party training event.

Leaked footage showed the campaigner saying she had not found a definition of antisemitism she could work with. […]

When she was asked whether she had considered resigning given the outrage among some Jewish groups, Walker said: “Some other prominent Jewish groups, of which I’m a member, think a very different thing. What we have to look at when we’re talking about this subject, particularly at the moment, is the political differences that are underlying this as well.”

She said whomever leaked the footage from a Labour party antisemitism training event “had malicious intent in their mind”. She also said she was anti-Zionist rather than antisemitic, adding: “I think Zionism is a political ideology, and like any political ideology, some people will be supportive and some people won’t be supportive of it. That’s a very different thing.” 10

From a report by the Press Association published in the Guardian on September 30th.

Here is an example of the public support she did receive from other Jewish Labour activists but which the mainstream media were determined to overlook:

We are Jewish Labour activists who were with Jackie Walker at the training session on antisemitism led by Mike Katz, vice chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) during the Labour Party conference in Liverpool on Monday September 26. Like her, some of us were heckled when we raised questions unpalatable to others in the audience who share the JLM’s bias towards Israel, its coupling of Jewish identity with Zionism and its insistence on the uniqueness of Jewish suffering.

Jackie had every right to question the JLM’s definition of antisemitism and the tendency of mainstream Jewish organisations to focus entirely on the slaughter of Jews when they commemorate the Nazi Holocaust. We share her determination to build greater awareness of other genocides, which are too often forgotten or minimised. Jackie responded appreciatively when one audience member described Holocaust memorial events involving Armenians and others. She has since issued a statement on this issue, reproduced below.

Click here to read the full statement by Free Speech on Israel [reprinted above].

Meanwhile, The Board of Deputies of British Jews Vice President actually went so far as to call Walker “an unapologetic Jew-baiter”. 11

This is how Walker afterwards described the events that unfolded to Al Jazeera:

“At the start they seemed relatively relaxed. It was simply a training session. I think some of us had gone along there with the idea it was kind of strange, because in some ways this was against what Shami Chakrabarti had actually advised. So we wanted to see what was going on. […]

By the time the row actually broke out I was on my way home. I mean none of us thought anything about this training session. I was in the car and suddenly I started to get these tweets coming through to me. And these phone calls from the BBC.” 12

As it transpired, a secretly recorded clip from the ‘training session’ had been leaked to a news outlet.

Walker continues: “What was actually leaked was certain little segments that would be as controversial as possible.” 13

The decontexturalised sound-bite that most ignited this very heated though totally belated reaction was this one: “In terms of Holocaust Day, I would also like to say wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust Day was open to all peoples who experienced Holocaust…” 14

Out of context, her statement quoted at the top of this section also caused considerable furore: that she hadn’t “heard a definition of antisemitism that I can work with”. Of this, Walker explains: “How it was reported and how it was tweeted was [that] I was basically saying ‘I can’t find anywhere a definition of antisemitism to work with’. That’s total nonsense. I’m an anti-racist trainer. I’ve been an anti-racist trainer for forty years. I’ve been fighting fascists and antisemites on the streets for decades.” 15

Walker concludes: “I’m not just Jewish, I am black. And my ancestry is of African enslavement. Only this year I spoke at Slavery Remembrance Day, and I spoke to a crowd in Trafalgar Square about the African Holocaust. And that is what we call it. You can disagree with me as to whether I should call that a holocaust but it is not antisemitic for me to call what happened to African people in the diaspora, a holocaust. […]

If they accuse anybody of antisemitism, it’s basically as bad as kind of accusing somebody of being a paedophile or a murderer. And it’s really hard to come back from that.16

Later ‘Robin’ speaks with Masot about Jackie Walker. Masot tells him: “Yeah, she is problematic. What can we do…? Do not let it go. That’s all you can do. Do not let it go… that’s the key.”17

Here is episode 3:

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JLM in the campaign against Corbyn

“Some of us would say it was mostly a constructed crisis for political ends. I would say there was a crisis of the way that antisemitism is being manipulated and being used by certain parts of, not just the Labour Party but other parties, and the media to discredit Jeremy Corbyn and a number of his supporters. I mean let’s disagree politically: I’m anti-Zionist, they’re pro-Zionist… Let’s have THAT argument. Not this one that’s going on at the moment.” — Jackie Walker 18

It was investigative reporter Asa Winstanley from the Electronic Intifada who first revealed last September that Ella Rose, the Director of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), was working at the Israel embassy as public affairs officer between September 2015 and August 2016, when she joined JLM as its first director:

Press reports in July announcing Rose’s appointment did not disclose the Israeli embassy link, mentioning only her previous position as president of the Union of Jewish Students.

Jewish critics of the JLM have told The Electronic Intifada that JLM’s link to the Israeli embassy should disqualify it from leading Labour Party trainings on antisemitism.

Ella Rose (second left on right-hand side of table) was part of a January 2015 meeting with then Prime Minister David Cameron which discussed opposing “boycotts and the deligitimization of Israel.” (Photoshot/Newscom)

Importantly, Electronic Intifada also established close ties to the Blairite Labour faction and ginger group ‘Progress’:

Although a dormant organization for many years, the JLM in February rose to prominence not long after it appointed as its new chair Jeremy Newmark, a well-known Israel lobbyist.

It was soon being actively promoted by Progress, the well-funded “moderate” Labour organization which is closely associated with the legacy of former leader Tony Blair.

Predictably, JLM soon became active in supporting the false narrative that Labour has become a cesspit of antisemitism under the leadership of left-winger and long-time advocate for Palestinian rights Jeremy Corbyn.

At the time, Jackie Walker reportedly told them “that in light of Ella Rose’s role at the embassy, JLM’s claim not to be an Israel advocacy organization was ‘highly doubtful.’”:

Walker, a Jewish anti-racism activist who has been falsely smeared as antisemitic by JLM and others, said it was ironic that members don’t have to be Jewish to join JLM, but they do have to be Zionist.19

Click here to read the full article entitled “New Jewish Labour Movement director was Israeli embassy officer” published by The Electronic Intifada.

Towards the end of episode 2, ‘Robin’ runs into Ella Rose:

“I saw Jackie Walker on Saturday and thought, you know what, I could take her, she’s like 5’2 and tiny… That’s why I can take Jackie Walker. Krav Maga training,”

Still referring to the Israeli army hand-to-hand fighting technique, she then added: “Yeah. I’m not bad at it. If it came to it I would win, that’s all I really care about.”

Jackie Walker again: “What we need to have is some investigation of this from the Labour Party. And I will be making a formal complaint against both Ella Rose and the Jewish Labour Movement” 20

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1 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 3: An Antisemitic Trope at 4.55 mins.

2 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 19:45  mins

3 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 11:10  mins

4 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 4:05 mins

5 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 13:45  mins

6 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 14:15  mins

7 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 15:30  mins

8 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 16:15  mins

9 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 17:15  mins

10 From an article entitled “Labour suspends Jackie Walker over Halocaust comments” published in the Guardian on September 30, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/30/labour-suspends-jackie-walker-over-holocaust-comments

11 I cannot find a link but the evidence of this statement is available in Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 20:15 mins

12 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 13:25  mins and at 18:00 mins

13 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 18:20  mins

14 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 18:30  mins

15 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 19:50  mins

16 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 19:10  mins and 21:20 mins

17 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 20:35  mins

18 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 3: An Antisemitic Trope at 4.55 mins.

19 All quotes above taken from an article entitled “New Jewish Labour Movement director was Israeli embassy officer” written by Asa Winstanley, published in The Electonic Intifada on September 21, 2016. https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/new-jewish-labour-movement-director-was-israeli-embassy-officer

20 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 24:30 mins

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Filed under analysis & opinion, Britain, did you see?

solidarity with Chris Williamson MP

Chris Williamson is not an anti-Semite or a racist, but simply the latest victim of an ongoing witch hunt. I encourage fellow Labour Party members, Corbyn supporters in particular, along with others of good will, to speak out against his suspension, and to pursue justice for him.

Click here to sign a petition on change.org calling for his suspension to be lifted (you can read the full statement appended below).

The suspension of Chris Williamson MP is an absolute disgrace. We stand in full solidarity with Chris, who must be cleared as soon as possible by Labour’s “investigation” – though judging by how Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein, Ken Livingstone and many, many more Corbyn supporters have been thrown under the bus, we have very little confidence that he will receive a fair one.

He is the latest victim of the witch-hunt by the right in the party whose main target is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself.

Jeremy Corbyn recently said: “Chris Williamson is a very good, very effective Labour MP. He’s a very strong anti-racist campaigner. He is not anti-Semitic.” Corbyn was right. He should finally stand up and tell people like Jon Lansman and John McDonnell to stop joining in the witch-hunt – but support the thousands of left-wingers who have been investigated, suspended and expelled, many of them on false accusations of anti-Semitism.

This campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism will only get worse, the closer we get to a general election. Trying to appease the right clearly does not work. If you fight, you might lose – but if you don’t fight, you have already lost.

Click here to find the same statement posted on the Labour Against the Witch Hunt website.

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Updates:

Having asked friends and fellow Labour Party branch members for advice on ways we might respond, the first two replies both offered the same recommendation: direct people to watch the Al Jazeera investigative series “The Lobby”, which uncovered subterfuge within the Labour Party by a spy working for the Israeli embassy.

In the clip below we see Israeli agent Shai Masot telling Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, Joan Ryan MP, at the LFI conference stall about a gift of over £1 million. Although Ryan has since quit Labour and joined “The Independent Group”, she still remains Chair of LFI:

One minute into the same clip (above) we also hear Masot casually discussing how he might help “take down” MPs opposed to Israeli policy. This shocking revelation did make news around the time of Al Jazeera‘s broadcast and eventually led to the quiet expulsion of Masot, though no further investigation was launched either by the media or through a public inquiry.

I have covered the contents of these four remarkable documentaries in earlier posts including this extended article, but following my friends’ suggestion have now decided to embed them again. I encourage readers to watch the series in its entirety (although parts 3 and 4 are perhaps the most pertinent episodes), and to direct others to watch them too:

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A short message from Chris Williamson to his supporters

On March 13th, Chris Williamson’s spoke briefly with @LeeFromSwindon. He began by thanking everyone who has “helped him through a very dark and difficult time”. His bigger message is that, as he put it, “we are on the cusp of literally changing the balance of power in this country in the favour of ordinary working people forever” and he asks members to stick together in solidarity and not abandon the party. Quoting a famous song from the 50s and 60s American civil rights movement, he also encouraged us to “keep your eyes on the prize and hold on”:

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Further update: Israel’s trolls meddling in British politics (Act.IL)

Sarah Leah Whitson, the head of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division, was fiercely attacked by anti-Palestinian groups and pundits this weekend.

She had shared a posting of mine on the manufactured “Labour anti-Semitism crisis” story.

My tweet included an article from last year in which I reported a clear example of Israeli interference in British politics.

The “Act.IL” organization, which is coordinated, backed and has been funded by Israel’s so-called Ministry of Strategic Affairs, had used a troll army to spread false information about Jeremy Corbyn – the leader of the UK’s official opposition party.

writes Asa Winstanley in an article published on February 11th entitled “Yes of course Israel is interfering in British politics”. He continues:

Whitson commented, “Why is this #Israel interference in domestic UK politics acceptable? Is it only a problem when Russia does this?”

Both are pertinent questions.

But predictably, Israel’s propagandists attacked the article as “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”

What Whitson’s attackers refused to address was the substance of the report. Instead, they falsely accused her of spreading “anti-Semitism.”

This is a deliberate tactic to distract from how Israel interferes in domestic UK politics – and indeed around the world.

What I reported – and has still not been contested, let alone refuted – is the fact that in August last year, a well-funded group called Act.IL had used a troll army to spread anti-Corbyn and anti-Labour propaganda in the UK.

A “mission” on the app directed users to comment on Facebook in response to a Huffington Post UK story about Corbyn’s alleged “anti-Israel remarks,” which the Israel-backed app claimed are “often a way to hide anti-Semitism.”

Since that report, The Electronic Intifada has obtained further evidence that Act.IL’s budget is more than $1 million.

An internal report states that, based out of “media rooms” in Israel, the US and the UK, Act.IL can direct an army of more than than 15,000 propagandists via its app.

Click here to read the full article at the Electronic Intifada website.

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Petition statement: Lift the suspension of Chris Williamson

Anti-Semitism is now being used as a weapon to silence those who would speak out against injustice. It is being used in such a way as to silence freedom of speech. The cries of Anti-Semitism are now being used in an inappropriate way. I abhor racism in all its forms but it has now gone far too far and merely the cry of AS has itself has become a weapon of abuse, where is the justice? Why are the NEC and Labour Party now becoming part of the problem? When they continually target people with a good record against racism in all its forms, it actually achieves the opposite to the desired goal. This is not justice, this is a tribute to McCarthyism where an accusation is enough. It has become a kangaroo court with the accusers given anonymity while decent people are tarnished and decried – This is not socialism, and some of these accusations wouldn’t even stand up in a Civil Court let alone a Criminal One even in our broken justice system – Please re-think and look at who the accusers are and where their affiliations lie, as they do not seem to lie with a socialist Labour Party.

Click here to add your name to the petition.

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Israelgate disclosure: Al Jazeera’s censored “The Lobby – USA” now released in full

Introduction

“You would think that since the United States has this special relationship with Israel and gives it so much largesse and protects it diplomatically at every turn and gives this assistance unconditionally, that the Israelis would do less spying here than other countries do, but on the contrary what we see is that Israelis are probably at the top of the list when it comes to foreign countries spying inside the United States.” — John Mearsheimer, Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago 1

“If China was doing this, if Iran was doing it, if Russia was doing it, there would be uproar. You would have Congress going after them. You would have hearings. You would have prosecutions. The question is how does Israel get away with this?” — Ali Abunimah, author of The Battle for Justice In Palestine. 2

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This extended post has been constructed as an augmented synopsis for Al Jazeera’s “The Lobby – USA”. It is also a companion piece to my overview published two years ago of Al Jazeera’s original investigative series about the Israel lobby and its machinations inside the UK.

As I wrote in March 2017:

The investigation came to wider public attention following the release of shocking footage of “Israeli diplomat” Shai Masot speculating about how to “take down” Deputy Foreign Minister, Sir Alan Duncan, and other senior politicians less than “solid on Israel”. After the story broke, the press were of course compelled to report on it: it was impossible to ignore such serious allegations that a foreign power was trying to subvert Britain’s democracy. Yet reaction both from the media and the government has been remarkably tepid since. There have been no sustained investigations and we see no push for an official inquiry – this in defiance of Labour demands that the government launch an immediate inquiry into what it rightly calls “a national security issue”. […]

The altogether miserly extent and scope of British media coverage of a plot to subvert our democracy can be usefully measured against the unlimited column inches and headline space given over to unfounded allegations of Russian hacking of the DNC in America. But no less importantly, the plot against Tory ministers occupies a mere ten minutes of one episode of what in full amounts to two hours over four parts of broadcast material. The revelation is damning in the extreme but it should not have been allowed to totally overshadow the real focus of the documentary: a dirty tricks campaign against pro-Palestinian Labour party members and other efforts to subvert the party’s elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn. This chicanery against Corbyn in the interests of a foreign power is something the media has helped to bury.

Click here to read my full post entitled “Shai Masot, the Israel lobby, and its part in the ongoing coup against Jeremy Corbyn.”

I urge all readers, but most especially the supporters of the British Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn, to watch both series of these powerful documentaries in their entirety.

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Israel first

“The settler agenda is defining the future of Israel, and their stated purpose is clear: they believe in one state: Greater Israel. In fact, one prominent minister declared just after the US election, and I quote, ‘the era of the two-state solution is over’. If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both.” — John Kerry. 3

“The activism has to be very provocative and attention-getting and total no f—ks given. We’re going to be more pro-Israel than you can even imagine. Just to provoke everyone… The majority of Americans are pro-Israel. Whereas you take a poll of Israel in the UK, it’s just pure hatred of Israel. Your country basically let half of f—king Pakistan move in. So you have a different problem than we do here— Noah Pollak, the Executive Director of the Emergency Committee for Israel. 4

One month ago, on Friday January 11th, Amal al-Taramsi, a 43-year-old Palestinian woman, was shot in the head by an IDF sniper. She is just the latest victim of more than 240 Palestinians who have been killed close to the Gaza fence since the Great March of Return protests that began in March last year:

At least 25 other Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire on Friday, including two members of the media and one paramedic, according to al-Qedra.5

Click here to read a full report by Al Jazeera.

Amal Mustafa at-Taramisi, 43, from Sheikh Radwan, north of Gaza city.

On the same day, Israeli missiles and artillery shells were fired into three sites in proximity to Gaza city and Khan Younis inside the Gaza strip. 6

And on the very same day, Israel also illegally launched unprovoked airstrikes on Damascus international airport as Prime Minister Netanyahu afterwards confirmed, citing warehouses containing Iranian arms as the pretext. 7

None of this is abnormal for Israel, of course. The IDF murders unarmed civilians as a matter of routine, maiming for life thousands of others who have committed no greater crime than hurling stones. They demolish houses even with the residents trapped inside in order to collectively punish the Palestinians and annex their land and water. Periodically Israel also “mows the grass” in the open air prison of Gaza; a policy of ethnic cleansing that is as brazen as it is ruthless. Back in 2012, the UN issued its “most comprehensive report on the Palestinian enclave” warning that, as Reuters reported:

Gaza will no longer be “liveable” by 2020 unless urgent action is taken to improve water supply, power, health, and schooling…

“Action needs to be taken now if Gaza is to be a liveable place in 2020 and it is already difficult now,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator Maxwell Gaylard told journalists when the report was released on Monday. 8

The action called for was never taken and 2020 is now less than twelve months away.

Meanwhile in America, on the same day Amal al-Taramsi was murdered, and as 25 other Palestinians were seriously wounded (among the casualties two members of the press and one paramedic), and as it rained down missiles over Gaza and Damascus, the US Congress was busy passing H.R.221 – Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act: “to monitor and combat anti-Semitism globally, and for other purposes.” The US House of Representatives in fact voted 411 to 1 in favour of the bill; Republican Justin Amash of Michigan, the single dissenting congressman.

Under this new legislation, a special envoy who is tasked to monitor criticism of Israel will be appointed to the rank of ambassador:

The Special Envoy shall serve as the primary advisor to, and coordinate efforts across, the United States Government relating to monitoring and combating anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement that occur in foreign countries. 9

The appointee will be able to pursue offenders in accordance with the full IHRA definition (as codified under The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act) and under the guise of defeating the “new antisemitism” – the falsehood that equates any criticism of Israel to racism against Jews – to curtail open debate about Israel’s constant violations of international law and crimes against humanity.

Moreover, on both Tuesday 8th and Thursday 10th, the US Senate voted to further protect Israeli interests in the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, S. 1. In violation of First Amendment rights to boycott, it provides federal support and protection for state anti-BDS laws, and was only very narrowly defeated:

[But] In the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered — S.1 — is not designed to protect American workers, bolster U.S. companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It’s not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign policy-related measures, the main one of which is a provision — with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor — to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

From an article entitled “U.S. Senate’s First Bill, in the Midst of the Shutdown, is a Bipartisan Defense of the Israeli Government from Boycotts” written by Ryan Grim and Glenn Greenwald, Published by The Intercept. The same piece continues:

These are the Israel-defending, free speech-punishing laws that Rubio’s bill is designed to strengthen. Although Rubio is the chief sponsor, his bill attracted broad bipartisan support, as is true of most bills designed to protect Israel and supported by AIPAC. 10

Click here to read the full article.

On January 28th, Senator Mitch McConnell brought the bill back to be voted on for a THIRD time and it was passed: 11

The bill was adopted by the Senate in a vote of 74 in favor to 19 against, with seven abstentions. The bill had previously been blocked by Senate Democrats by a 56-44 vote as part of their objection to acting on legislation during the government shutdown. However, many of those Democratic senators who had previously blocked the bill ultimately voted in support of the measure. In order to become law, the measure would still need to pass the Democrat-run House of Representatives. However, given the amount of support for the measure among Democrats and the power of the Israel lobby, the bill stands a considerable chance of passing the House.

writes Whitney Webb in an article entitled “The US Senate Just Quietly Advanced A Free Speech Busting Anti-BDS Bill”. The article continues:

The bill includes several measures that were promoted by the Israel lobby last year but did not make it through the previous Congress. These include the “Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2019” which would give a record-breaking $38 billion to Israel over the next 10 years, and which ultimately failed to pass after Sen. Paul threatened a filibuster against it. That bill also requires Congress to give at least $3.8 billion to Israel every subsequent year after the initial 10 years.

Other measures in the bill include the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019”  — which imposes more sanctions on Syria and has been described as a “rebuttal” to President Trump’s proposed Syria troop withdrawal, which Israel also opposes – and the “The United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act,” which would also give money to Israel. Some analysts have long asserted that U.S. security assistance to Jordan and other regional countries such as Egypt is aimed at securing regional support for Israeli and American geopolitical objectives in the Middle East.

Yet, the most controversial part of the bill by far is the “Combating BDS Act of 2019,” which would authorize state and local governments to retaliate commercially against entities that support BDS, such as by halting business with or refusing to contract or hire companies or individual citizens who either actively participate in or support the movement. A previous version of the bill included possible jail time as punishment for supporting a boycott of Israel or Israeli settlements, their violation of international law notwithstanding. 12

Click here to read the full article published by Mint Press News on Jan 29th.

So why does the US Congress expend such Herculean efforts to bend over backwards for the benefit of Israel? The short answer is the lobby…

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The Lobby – USA

“The big media companies will tell you – well, maybe they won’t tell you this – but they have been harassed. If they had Palestinian journalists who knew the ins and outs of the Palestinian authority, for example, they were blatantly told to get rid of them. That they weren’t trustworthy journalists.” — Jim Clancy, former correspondent and presenter with CNN (1982–2015) 13

“AIPAC has moved so far to the right that it’s losing the young people. By the time of the next presidential election, Democrats will not glibly in a debate, say, ‘I’m running for President and I love Israel…’ The terrain has changed dramatically.” — MJ Rosenberg, former editor of AIPAC’s policy journal, Near East Report. 14

“The foundation that AIPAC is sat on is rotting. There used to be actually widespread public support for Israel in the United States. So I don’t think that AIPAC is going to remain as influential as it is. I don’t think AIPAC is the tip of the spear anymore, which is worrisome because who is?” — Eric Gallagher, former Director (2010–2015) at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). 15

As a sequel to its damning investigation into the Israel lobby’s activities inside Britain (released two years ago), Al Jazeera’s Director of Investigative Journalism, Clayton Swisher, announced in October 2017 that a different undercover journalist James Kleinfeld (under the pseudonym ‘Tony’) was likewise embedded within the US Israel lobby:

Swisher made the announcement soon after the UK’s broadcast regulator dismissed all complaints against Al Jazeera’s film The Lobby.

That documentary, broadcast in January 2017, exposed Israel’s covert influence campaign in the UK’s ruling Conservative and opposition Labour parties. The film revealed an Israeli embassy agent plotting with a British civil servant to “take down” a government minister seen as too critical of Israel.

Although Swisher promised the US film would come out “very soon,” nearly five months later it has yet to be broadcast.

In fact it was not until November 2018 before a complete copy of the 4-part documentary series was finally released, and then not officially by Al Jazeera, whose director-general claimed there were outstanding legal issues with the film – assertions flatly contradicted by his own journalists – but leaked instead by the Electronic Intifada and simultaneously by France’s Orient XXI and Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar, (versions subtitled respectively in French and Arabic).

On November 13, 2018, ‘The Real News’ discussed with Ali Abunimah, editor and co-founder of ‘The Electronic Intifada’, the documentary’s explosive revelations:

What is revealed is a highly sophisticated psychological operation with close ties to Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, directed at spying on, smearing and sabotaging the Palestine solidarity movement. However, in spite of tremendous resources and assiduously cultivated networks of Zionist sympathisers, we learn that support for Israel is haemorrhaging.

Even in America, where the Israel lobby is at its most influential, it has been losing the battle for hearts and minds, as remaining pockets of support are reduced to the ever more extreme right wing margins. For this reason, the attack on outspoken opponents of Israel, and most especially the leading advocates for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), is being intensified.

Read more about Al Jazeera’s investigation into Israel’s meddling in British politics as well as Qatar’s subsequent censorship of its twin investigation in the US in a post published September 21st entitled forget ‘Russiagate’, why is no-one talking about ‘Israelgate’…?

Each of the four parts is embedded below in sequence. Here is the first, which is subtitled “The Covert War”:

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Israel’s secret war: the smoking gun

“We are a different government working on foreign soil and we have to be very, very cautious. We have three different sub-campaigns, which are very, very sensitive. Regarding data gathering, information analysis, working on activist organisations, money trail. This is something that only a country with its resources can do the best.” — Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. 16

“Think tanks are the folks that used to work in government, have PhDs, and decided not to become professors… In the Middle Eastern studies field academics have failed. That’s why people like me are considered useful at least to some.” — Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. 17

Speaking at the Israeli American Council (IAC) conference, Sima Vaknin-Gil tells delegates:

“Ambiguity is part of our guidelines, that’s why I’m not going to say too much about each one of the legs. The first one is intel, intelligence, or data, or information. What we’ve done is mapped and analysed the whole phenomena globally. Not just the United States, not just campuses, but campuses and intersectionality and labour unions and churches. We started to establish a project called ‘Israel Cyber Shield’. This project is actually a civil intelligence unit that collects, analyses and acts upon the activists in the BDS movement. If it’s people, organisations or events… we are using the most sophisticated data system, intelligence system in the Israeli market. Let’s take the defence activity that we’re doing, and make it into proactivity and offence activity.” 18

In response, Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement told Al Jazeera: “Israel has used cyber sabotage. We suffered from intense denial of service attacks, hacking attacks, on our website. Israel decided to go on cyberwar against BDS publicly – they said we shall spy on BDS individuals and networks, especially in the West. We have not heard a peep from any western government complaining that Israel is admitting that it will spy on your citizens. Imagine Iran saying it will spy on British or American citizens. Just imagine what could happen.” 19

Sima Vaknin-Gil also told delegates at the conference:

“Everybody out there who has to do anything with BDS should ask themselves twice, do I want to be on this side, or do I want to be on the other side? If I’m submitting to BDS what would be the effect? We’ve got the budget. We can bring things to the table that are quite different. We have three different sub-campaigns. Data gathering, working on activist organisation, money trail. We have FDD. We have others working on this.” 20

The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) is officially “a nonpartisan policy institute” and yet by the admission of the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Sima Vaknin-Gil, it is also a foreign agency working on behalf of a foreign power, running covert operations to spy on American citizens.

As Asa Winstanley points out, the FDD operates in complete violation of US law:

Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, commonly known as FARA, US organizations and individuals who work on behalf of foreign governments are required to register with the counterintelligence section of the Department of Justice.

A search on the FARA website shows that the Foundation for Defense of Democracies is not registered.

The same piece continues:

Soon after she was appointed to lead the ministry at the start of 2016, Vaknin-Gil promised to “create a community of fighters” who would “flood the internet” with Israeli propaganda that would be publicly distanced from the government.

Adding:

As well as getting funding from Sheldon Adelson, the anti-Palestinian billionaire and number one donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies has close ties to the United Arab Emirates.

In hacked emails last year the Emirati ambassador in Washington encouraged the foundation to push for moving a US military base from Qatar to his own country. 21

Click here to read the full article entitled “What’s in Al Jazeera’s undercover film on the US Israel Lobby?” published in March 2018 by the Electronic Intifada.

As John Mearsheimer, Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007), tells Al Jazeera: “They try to ‘educate’ people to understand that Israel is effectively a western, liberal democracy in the sea of terrorist states, which is the Arab world. The other goal is to intimidate and to smear people.” 22

Here is the second episode of “The Lobby – USA”, which is subtitled “Managing Elites”:

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‘Information superiority’

“In the air force when you want to win, you have to have aerial superiority. If you want to win a campaign, you must have information superiority. And this is exactly the added value of Israel’s capabilities, technological and otherwise, we can bring to the game and we are working on that very hard.” — Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. 23

“For years we are trying to defeat the BDS and the delegitimisation movement. We are all on the defensive. I think we should move to the offensive. Using especially cyber and internet tools to try and defeat this ugly movement.Sagi Balasha, former CEO of the Israeli-American Council (2011–2015) who works with cyber-intelligence organisations. 24

“An American should not be spied on by a foreign government that is able to access all this information and possibly undermine their ability to exercise their democratic rights in this country. So we’re not dealing with amateurs, this is not an amateur work, we’re dealing with a government that has a ministry… engaged in the systematic targeting of activists outside of its sovereign borders.” — Hatem Bazian, founder of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). 25

Jacob Baime is the Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). He tells ‘Tony’: “The research operation is very hi-tech. When I got here a few years ago the budget was $3,000. Today it’s like a million and a half or more. Probably it’s two million at this point. I don’t even know it’s huge. It’s a massive budget.” 26

Baime continues: “We’ve got major political consulting firms on retainer that are here all the time. We have our own opposition researchers. We have a lot of communications capabilities and what’s most interesting about it, I think, is that 90% of the people who pay attention to this space very closely have no idea what we’re actually doing, which I like.” 27

Adding: “There’s a company called Sensus. It’s very pricey though you know. We had to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars just for it. It’s going to increase our discovery rate. We’re discovering just about everything we need. It’s also going to bring new sources online that we weren’t able to access in an automated fashion. Like message boards and… we have ways to crawl message boards right now and to monitor them but it’s disconnected from the event and activity discovery mechanism, so we want that system to be all integrated. We just signed a contract yesterday for them to start that work. They’ve actually already started it. Good friends in Israel that are helping us with that.” 28

‘Tony’ also learns from Baime that, “It’s modelled on General Stanley McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq. We’ve copied a lot from that strategy that has been working really well for us actually. And one of the pieces is this Operations and Intelligence Brief. We’re using social media intelligence. A tool called Radian 6. We’re phasing that out over the next year and we’re bringing on more sophisticated technology that is developed in Israel.” 29

I shall return to Jacob Baime and the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) in later sections.

In episode 3, ‘Tony’ also speaks to Eric Gallagher, a former Director (2010–2015) at AIPAC, who confirms to him that: “there’s a group of anonymous people who have a very sophisticated digital strategy for exposing these people [anti-Israel campaigners] and making sure the stuff stays with them.”

Gallagher adds reassuringly: “There’s no one on their side doing it so you don’t have to worry about your reputation.” 30

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Influencing Washington

“I know that getting $38 billion in security aid to Israel matters, which is what AIPAC just did. That’s what I’m proud to have been a part of for so long… Everything AIPAC does is focused on influencing Congress. Congress is where you have leverage. So you can’t influence the President of the United States directly but the Congress can.” — Eric Gallagher, former Director (2010–2015) at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). 31

“The Ministry of Strategic Affairs brings together this group called the Global Coalition for Israel, and it’s leading pro-Israel advocacy groups around the world. My view and the view of Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, which we co-ordinate with sometimes, we communicate with sometimes, is Europe is lost and it’s basically over and they’re turning a lot of attention now to the US because they feel we’re on your path.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC).  32

“[W]e don’t ask a goddamn thing about the f—king Palestinians. You know why? Because it’s a tiny issue, that’s why. It’s a small insignificant issue. The big issue is Iran. We want everything focused on Iran.” — David Ochs, the founder of Ha Lev 33

In part 2, David Ochs, the founder of Ha Lev, an organisation that pays for young people to attend the AIPAC conference, invites reporter ‘Tony’ to attend a fundraiser held in a wealthy suburb of Washington. He emails ‘Tony’ with a list of the people the group supports. Those named on the list which Ochs describes as “the biggest ad hoc political group and definitely the wealthiest in DC” include:

Senators: Mark Kirk, Democrat from Illinois; Richard Burr, Republican from North Carolina; Kelly Ayotte (“she’s fantastic!”), Republican from New Hampshire on the Arms Committee; Robert Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey; Rob Portman, Republican from Ohio; Jamie Raskin, Democrat from Maryland.

And Congressmen: Ted Deutch, Democrat for Florida; Barbara Comstock, Republican for Virginia; David Scott, Democrat for Georgia; Joe Heck, Republican for Nevada [now retired after he stood and was defeated in 2016 race for the Senate]; Chris van Hollen, Democrat for Maryland; Steny Hoyer, Democrat for Maryland too. 34

Och then fills in the picture and tells ‘Tony’: “They’ll walk into the room and say, ‘Everything here is off the record.’ Then they’ll say, ‘Here’s a little bit about me’ and people will ask very specific questions.” 35

Continuing: “It’s the AIPAC group. It makes a difference, it really, really does. It’s the best bang for your buck and the networking is phenomenal… Congressmen and Senators don’t do anything unless you pressure them. They kick the can down the road, unless you pressure them. The only way to do that is with money.” 36

The fundraiser event was for Anthony Brown, the former Lieutenant Governor of the state of Maryland, who in 2016 was running for Congress. “Brown is going to use that £30,000 to do ad campaigns”, Ochs tells ‘Tony’ adding:

“[W]e want the Jewish community to go face to face in this small environment: 50, 30, 40 people, and say ‘This is what’s important to us.’ We want to make sure, if we give you money that you’re going to enforce the Iran deal. That way, when they need something from him or her, like the Iran deal, they can quickly mobilise and say ‘look, we’ll give you $30,000.’”  37

Ochs also talks about a more impressive fundraising event held in New York which included donors from Wall Street, one of whom was hedge fund manager, Jeff Talpins:

“What happens is Jeff meets with the congressmen in the backroom, tells them exactly what his goals are – and by the way, Jeff Talpins is worth $250 million. Basically they hand him an envelope with 20 credit cards and say, ‘You can swipe each of these credit cards for $1,000 each.’” 38

Asked by ‘Tony’ the name of the group behind the event, Ochs says:

“It doesn’t have a name. There’s no name. It’s an ad hoc political group. For all the legal reasons, people pool their money.” 39

Al Jazeera showed their evidence to Craig Holman from the campaign group Public Citizen who explained that although individual campaign contributions are limited by law to no more than $2,700, this can be circumvented (legally or illegally) when a group of fifty or so bundle these already considerable donations together. It becomes illegal once any of the donors begin pooling resources in such a way that one who can afford more than the maximum $2700 passes on extra money to someone who is unable to. Holman told Al Jazeera:

“He’s actually saying we’re buying these office holders and that’s the point. We’re chipping in all this money so we can hand over $100,000 or £200,000 to the office holder so we can buy him.” 40

Adding:

“There is a disclosure law that is designed to highlight whether there may be potential money-laundering going on in events like this. And that is if the funds are earmarked and that means the organisation has to disclose who showed up at their events and how much each individual will chip in and what they handed over to the lawmaker… What this specific group is doing to try to avoid that disclosure requirement: it isn’t taking money and then putting it in its own account and then handing it over to the office holder, [instead] it’s just collecting credit card information and then turning that over directly to the candidate. Therefore it’s not violating the earmarking law and they’re not reporting this. All we would see on the campaign finance reports are the individuals who contributed. But there will be no record on those campaign finance reports [showing] that they worked together as a bundling group.” 41

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“They have questionnaires. Anyone running for Congress is expected to fill out a questionnaire. And they evaluate the depth of your commitment to Israel on the basis of that questionnaire. And then you have an interview… If you get AIPAC support then more often or not you’re going to win. You realise it’s not just the money, it’s the number of concerned activists: they’ll send out postcards; they’ll make phone calls; they’ll organise. That’s the democratic process – they understand the democratic process.” — Jim Moran, member of Congress from 1991–2015 42

“We made sure there were people in every single congressional district and then you’d call them up and say I’m calling from AIPAC in Washington. I did these calls: ‘We hear you’re good friends with congressman so-and-so.’ ‘Oh, my God yes! We’ve been friends since elementary school.’ ‘Well what does he think about Israel?’ ‘I never talked to him about Israel.’ ‘Well, can I come down and talk to you and help you figure out a way to talk to him about Israel?’ ‘No, just tell me. What should I say? I’ll just tell him.’ MJ Rosenberg, former editor of AIPAC’s policy journal, Near East Report. 43

AIPAC is by far the most prominent and important of all the hundreds of pro-Israel lobby groups in America and every year it hosts a stadium-sized gathering of delegates. The power of the Israel lobby, and of AIPAC in particular, can perhaps best be judged during election years.

In 2016, nearly 20,000 delegates attended the annual AIPAC conference and of this number some 4,000 were students. Also in attendance were many high ranking Republicans and Democrats, including Vice President Joe Biden, and Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan; also shoulder-to-shoulder with presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and all equally eager to the please the crowds with rousing speeches about America’s enduring and unbreakable friendship with Israel and its Lukidnik leadership. They come because the lobby is powerful and in search of backers:

Money is an important part of the equation. AIPAC is not a political action committee, and the organization itself doesn’t give a dime in campaign contributions. But its Web site, which details how members of Congress voted on AIPAC’s key issues, and the AIPAC Insider, a glossy periodical that handicaps close political races, are scrutinized by thousands of potential donors. Pro-Israel interests have contributed $56.8 million in individual, group and soft money donations to federal candidates and party committees since 1990, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

AIPAC helps to steer American foreign policy in other ways too:

For overstretched members of Congress and their staffs, who don’t have the time or resources to master every subject in their domain, AIPAC makes itself an essential tool. It briefs. It lobbies. It organizes frequent seminars on subjects such as terrorism, Islamic militarism and nuclear proliferation. It brings experts to the Hill from think tanks in Washington and Tel Aviv. It provides research papers and offers advice on drafting legislation on foreign affairs, including the annual foreign aid bill. And behind it is a vast network of grass-roots activists in each House district who make a point of visiting individual members of Congress, inviting them to social events and contributing to their reelection campaigns. 44

Click here to read the full Washington Post article entitled “A Beautiful Friendship?”

Here is the third episode of “The Lobby – USA”, which is subtitled “The Witch Hunt”:

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In principle, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 45 prohibits lobbyists from providing gifts or travel to Members of Congress, limiting reimbursement for trips to one-day maximum. But that was before a loophole was inserted, widely known as “the AIPAC loophole”, a clause excluding ‘educational trips’ arranged by a charity that doesn’t itself hire lobbyists. AIPAC happens to be affiliated to the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which is just such a charity. Created in 1990 the AIEF “funds educational seminars to Israel for members of Congress and other political influentials”. Its own mission statement continues:

These AIEF-sponsored trips help educate political leaders and influentials about the importance of the U.S. – Israel relationship through firsthand experiences in Israel, briefings by experts on Middle East affairs, and meetings with Israeli political elite. 46

Every year they fly hundreds of members of Congress to Israel. Jim Moran, who as a member of Congress from 1991–2015 actually visited Israel on one of these lavish all-expenses paid trips, told Al Jazeera: “You are told that Israel continues to be under siege from hundreds of millions of its neighbours who are Muslim and who hate Israel. Who hate Jewish people. You are told that Israel survives because of the United States and because of American politicians like you, who support us” 47

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“They threaten. They immediately threaten. Even if they know that AIPAC can’t defeat them, AIPAC can make their lives more difficult. They can make sure that at their next town meeting or something, some members of the Jewish congregation jump up and say ‘But you’re anti-Israel!’” — MJ Rosenberg, former editor of AIPAC’s policy journal, Near East Report. 48

“The executive director of AIPAC said that his most important accomplishment was his securing the authorisation of the use of US military forces in Iraq. AIPAC was pushing very hard… the United States getting involved in wars in the Middle East is ultimately in Israel’s interest. They have a stake in the region.” — Jim Moran. 49

Along with inducements, AIPAC also has the power to strike out against candidates who wander off the reservation as Jim Moran was to discover later. In 2002, AIPAC was lobbying him to vote in favour of the invasion of Iraq. When Moran refused, a sequence of events took place beginning with a single question asked at a public meeting:

“A Jewish woman actually stood up in the town hall and she said ‘Why aren’t more Jews involved in the marches against the war?’ I said ‘If leaders in the Jewish community were opposed to the war that would make a difference.’” 50

The lobby reacted saying that Moran was perpetuating an antisemitic conspiracy theory that Israel was leading America to war:

“There was a conservative rabbi in my district who was assigned to me, I assume, by AIPAC. And he had warned me that if I voice my views about the Israeli lobby that my career would be over and implied that it would be done through The Post – and sure enough The Washington Post editorialised brutally; everybody ganged up.” 51

The initial hit piece was written by Marc Fisher and bluntly titled “Sorry, Mr Moran, You’re Not Fit For Public Office”. It begins:

Jim Moran is very sorry. The congressman from Northern Virginia is often sorry. He is sorry about the things he says, the money he takes, the people he insults.

And continues:

It doesn’t matter whether you think this war would be right or wrong: What we have here is a United States congressman endorsing and spreading one of the oldest and most pernicious myths in the annals of ethnic hatred: It’s those all-powerful Jews. 52

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Fighting the infowar

“We are in charge of fighting this phenomenon and to this end we have four legs. Warning, deterrence, attack and public relations. If you want to win a campaign your actions must be as vague as possible. Just as I worked… as an intelligence officer, we didn’t go to the other side and tell him what we intend to do. We left him in the dark.” — Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. 53

“We are giving them data, for example, one day Sima’s deputy is sending me a photo. Just a photo on Whatsapp. It’s written ‘Boycott Israel’ on a billboard. In a few hours our systems and analysts could find the exact organisation, people and even their names, where they live. We gave it back to the ministry [of Strategic Affairs] and I have no idea what they did with this. But the fact is, three days later there were no billboards.” — Sagi Balasha, former CEO of the Israeli-American Council (2011–2015) 54

Having passed through a training course in pro-Israel advocacy, undercover reporter ‘Tony’ got a placement as a volunteer working inside what they call the ‘war room’ at The Israel Project (TIP) where media and communications are monitored. Staff said they forged friendships with reporters who worked at numerous media outlets. One claimed that during talks on the Iran nuclear deal, TIP had applied pressure to the Associated Press news agency to alter a headline. TIP’s admitted aim according to its annual report is to build an echo chamber for pro-Israel information as well as “neutralizing undesired narratives”. 55

This approach was afterwards confirmed by David Hazony, Managing Director at TIP, who explained how: “They’re not things we do loudly. A lot of them are things we do behind the scenes… You can get a lot more done by making questions get asked by journalists. And if you create it from multiple directions at the same time through multiple journalists, then you create a kind of sense of crisis… We develop relationships. A lot of alcohol to get them to trust us.” 56

Such chaos is purposefully exacerbated by ostensibly non-partisan ‘think tanks’ such as the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) which spuriously links pro-Palestinian groups to Hamas. Such unsubstantiated and false allegations then permit prominent voices within the Israel lobby to smear opponents and to coerce the US government. On the back of such claims, Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organisation of America (ZOA) told delegates attending the Israeli-American Council IAC:

“We should promote the fact that according to Jonathan Schanzer [Senior Vice President at the FDD], who knows terrorism… He said a group of people who were actively funding Hamas, have now formed a group, American Muslims for Palestine. Schanzer testified and said they were leading driver of the BDS campaign, they were the most important sponsor and organisers of SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine]. We have to make it clear in every way possible, that they’re being funded and trained by vicious lovers of Hamas.” 57

A research associate working at TIP, Amanda Botfeld, confided to ‘Tony’: “The stuff we produced, I felt was like bigoted. It would be like pictures of Palestinian kids with a knife. Those videos of kids going to stab people. You would need to put this on Facebook and then have me make memes, so there could be graphics about that… I was embarrassed to be associated with it.” 58 She later alleged that her boss at another pro-Israel group, StandWithUs, had instructed her to label BDS a “‘racist hate group’ as often as possible because it polls well”. 59 Botfeld also claims StandWithUs included a “covert group” who would slander others as antisemites.

Asked by ‘Tony’ whether she believed there had been “well-intentioned activists on American campuses who have found themselves in very difficult situations because of these pro-Israel groups have tarnished them as antisemites?” she replied “Oh, absolutely.” 60

Here is the final episode of “The Lobby – USA”, which is subtitled “Marketing Occupation”:

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Killing the messenger

“If we want to win, we have to change our ways. We have to think differently. And this is waging a holistic campaign against the other side. Take him out of his comfort zone. Make him be on the defensive.” — Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. 61

“Antisemitism has come to mean anti-Israel. The AIPAC crowd doesn’t really care very much about whether or not a person likes Jews or wants one to move in next door. All they care about is what their position is on Israel.” — MJ Rosenberg, former editor of AIPAC’s policy journal, Near East Report. 62

“I think we need to worry. The polling isn’t good and all you probably know that if you look at the polls, the younger you get on the demographic scales, the lower support for Israel is.” — David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force, which combats BDS on American Campuses, speaking at the annual conference of the IAC. 63

Although the Israel lobby has the US Congress mostly in its pocket, it is at the same moment losing the battle for hearts and minds at a grassroots level in America as elsewhere. As awareness of the cruel illegality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the daily atrocities carried out under its apartheid system grows, so support for Israel amongst progressives and liberals has waned. As mainstream America slowly turned their backs on Israel, the residue of support is today strongest amongst Christian Zionists who believe in the end time prophecy that for Christ to return it is necessary for Israel to control all of historical Palestine. Meanwhile, as the Palestinian solidarity movement steadily rises, Israel and its dwindling base of supporters is making ever more concerted efforts to put a stop to the threat posed by BDS.

As Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President of FDD, confides to ‘Tony’: “BDS has taken everybody by surprise. It’s come up behind everyone’s back and bit them on the ass. Yeah, that’s a complete mess. I can tell you that I don’t think anybody’s doing a good job. We’re not even doing a good job. We did some good research but we haven’t figured out how to do anything with it… Personally I think antisemitism as a smear is not what it used to be.” 64

Likewise, David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force, which combats BDS on American Campuses, tells delegates at the annual conference of the IAC: “When you get to the millennials and the students, it’s a bad situation. And it’s getting to the point now where the majority is more favourable towards the Palestinians than the Israelis.” 65

The younger generation of Jews in America are also drifting away from Israel and have increasingly joined the ranks of BDS supporters. As Sima Vaknin-Gil explains: “Today we haven’t only lost the millennial generation of Jews. I hear this from their parents who come and explain to me what a hard time they’re having with their kids at Friday dinners. They don’t recognise the State of  Israel and don’t see us as an entity to be admired.” 66

The response from some in the Israel lobby is summed up neatly in the words of David Hazony, the editor of The Tower magazine and also a Managing Director at TIP:

“They’re all crazy liberals. As far as I’m concerned American Jews had one job, which was to preserve Jewish identity from one generation to the next. They failed. So I don’t think they have any place to be telling Israel what’s what. If they choose to stop giving money to Israel, Israel will find money elsewhere.” 67

*

The Algemeiner, which claims to be the fastest growing Jewish newspaper in America, pays special attention to events on college campuses. In Part 2 of Al Jazeera’s investigation, undercover reporter ‘Tony’ is unwittingly recruited by the Algemeiner to help carry out a covert investigation inside the Palestinian Solidarity movement. Rachel Frommer, Algemeiner’s Senior Campus Correspondent tells him:

“We’re working on a project now about ranking US universities and colleges in terms of their antisemitic and anti-Israel [attitudes]. We have a campus bureau that monitors this sort of behaviour and these incidents and these campaigns all day long, all week long.” 68

She continues: “The language that comes from those arenas move into that sphere of the new antisemitism, which is anti-Israelism. That’s a big focus at the campus bureau, looking at the blurring of those lines and where those boundaries have eroded.” 69

Then, in Part 3, ‘Tony’ is informed by Editor in Chief of the Algemeiner, Dovid Efune, “There’s a long history of crime affiliated with the BDS movement that have been judged as such by US courts. For example, the Holy Land Foundation… Are these people still active and present within the movement? Who seem to be the people running the show here? Is there any acknowledgement of any sponsors?” 70

Likewise, Rachel Frommer tells him: “This is an incestual business. You know, they’re all interconnected. This is not just me spouting off because I’m paranoid. There have been actual cases like the Holy Land case that happened a few years ago… A lot of these guys had worked with those people, and they themselves have not yet been indicted but they’re all interconnected. Part of the reason why that is so crucial is because when you’re making lines from one organisation to the other, eventually you make a line to Hamas. To Hezbollah. To Iran.” 71

The trope of pro-Palestinian activist ties to terrorist groups is a narrative that serves interests of the Israel lobby and one that is repeated by Executive Director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, Noah Pollak, who states during a panel discussion at George Mason University:

“There is an actual direct between the people who were raising money for Hamas and people who are involved in BDS activism on American campuses today… You’ll notice their name is Students for Justice in Palestine. You don’t hear the word ‘Islamic’, don’t hear the word ‘Muslim’ in that name. You hear the word ‘justice’ which is kind of a buzzword on campuses today. Everyone’s for justice, right? You’re not for injustice.” 72

The irony of sharing the same platform with Jonathan Schanzer of the so-called Foundation for Defense of Democracy is somehow lost on everyone. But Pollak then goes on to let the cat out of the bag altogether:

“If you actually get into the weeds on SJP they’ve aligned with groups that are for the… not just the destruction of Israel, the destruction of America… [advising the audience] When you talk about SJP and when you talk about BDS, you talk about them as a hate group, as a movement that absolutely endorses violence against civilians – not military conflict – but violence against civilians, aka terrorism. You discredit the messenger as a way of discrediting the message.” 73

*

For the record the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) was run by Palestinian-Americans and had been the largest Islamic charity working inside the United States. However, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the HLF was accused by John Ashcroft, then-Attorney General better remembered for his advocacy of the USA Patriot Act, of sponsoring terrorism.

By December 2001, the Bush administration had designated HLF a terrorist organisation, frozen its assets, and closed it down. Then in 2004, a federal grand jury in Dallas charged HLF and five former employees with providing material support to Hamas and related offenses. An Al Jazeera article entitled “The Holy Land Five” picks up the story:

The claims made were that the charity was a front for an illegal money-laundering operation, diverting funds to Hamas via zakat committees in the Occupied West Bank. Hamas, in turn, had been designated “a terrorist organisation” by the US government.

“It was a huge record that the government created, an administrative record – and it was basically garbage. It was newspaper articles, interviews that were translated from Arabic to Hebrew to English,” says Nancy Hollander, one of the lawyers defending Shukri Abu Baker, a founder of the foundation.

“And we discovered when we did our own translations that their translations were completely wrong, that the government was relying on information that was completely false. But it didn’t matter.”

The five foundation founders were charged with providing “material support” to Hamas. During the first trial in 2007, their defence team struggled to deal effectively with two secret expert witnesses called by the prosecution whose “evidence” was not shared in advance. Nonetheless, the jury failed to agree on the charges brought against them and the judge declared a mistrial.

“More than 8,000 documents and the United States government didn’t have a single American document that condemns the Holy Land Foundation. They might have had circumstantial evidence or doubts, but the only evidence was Israeli. And these documents were forged,” says journalist Osama Abu Irshaid.

“More than 8,000 documents and the United States government didn’t have a single American document that condemns the Holy Land Foundation. They might have had circumstantial evidence or doubts, but the only evidence was Israeli. And these documents were forged,” says journalist Osama Abu Irshaid. […]

Just as the Five were celebrating their apparent acquittal, the judge asked the prosecution if they would be prepared to bring a second case against the men. They were re-charged and faced a year-long battle against evidence which has since been criticised for being ‘untested, untestable, hearsay and prejudicial’. In the second trial a year later, the men were convicted of providing ‘material support’ to Hamas and in 2009, were sentenced to between 15 and 65 years in prison. 74

Click here to read the full report on the Al Jazeera website.

In October 2016, Al Jazeera also released two documentaries entitled “The Holy Land Five” about the case:

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Israel’s covert campus army

“[BDS] seems to be achieving its goals and I think it threatens future American support for Israel. Younger people are leaving college less sympathetic to Israel than when they entered.” — David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force, which combats BDS on American Campuses, speaking at the annual conference of the IAC. 75

“If one of these terrorists on campus wants to disrupt a pro-Israel lecture or something and unfurl a banner or whatever else, we’re going to investigate them and look into the bad stuff they’ve done. That stuff becomes very useful in the moment and there are any number of ways to push it out. The only thing is that we do it securely and anonymously and that’s the key.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 76

“So nobody really knows what we’re doing. But mainly it’s been a lot of research, monitoring BDS things and reporting back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs… When they talk about it in the Knesset, we’ve usually contributed to what the background information is. I’m not going to campuses. It’s more about connecting organisations and I guess campuses, providing resources and strategies if students need it.” — Julia Reifkind, Director of Community Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. 77

AIPAC has an established network across American high schools and universities and closely allied to the umbrella organisation Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) against BDS.

In Episode 3, Lila Greenberg, who is Senior National Field Organiser for AIPAC, tells ‘Tony’: “So in AIPAC we focus on the political. We have one very specific, very effective angle for combating BDS. But the ICC pools resources from all the campus organisations, so that they’re tapped in on all angles.” 78

He also interviews Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), Jacob Baime, who says: “There are about 100, maybe 120 professionals working for a dozen national ICC partner organisations like AIPAC, Hasbara Fellowships [HF], StandWithUs, Hillel, Chabad [on Campus] and AEPi [the fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi (ΑΕΠ)]” 79

Baime tells ‘Tony’: “We’re working so closely with StandWithUs and we have such a tight partnership with them today, that it’s totally seamless.” 80

And he adds: “We should stand behind our work, not in front of it. It’s not helpful for StandWithUs to say to a pro-Israel student or The Israel Project to say to a pro-Israel student, “Oh sure we’ll help you, but you have to put our logo on it.” 81

According to Ben Brownstein who is employed by StandWithUs and works in the ICC’s office “The Israel on Campus Coalition… oversee the whole movement.” 82 Brownstein illustrates their overarching relationship with an example: “Let’s say next week a BDS resolution comes to campus. So the ICC will be the ones, they’ll organise a conference call with all the partners. So they might say, ‘Okay StandWithUs, we need a little more of your help because we need something regarding a BDS resolution. The campus newspaper wants us to write an op-ed, can you guys help us write the op-ed?” 83

Sumayyah Din is a student at University of California Berkeley who stood for the university senate as an independent candidate. She had decided to pun on her surname which means ‘faith’ or ‘governance’ and inspired by the Palestinian cause, launched her campaign with catchword #Dintifada. The word ‘intifada’ is Arabic for ‘uprising’. When this upset StandWithUs, they retaliated with a social media assault both on her campaign and her character.

At their annual conference in Los Angeles, one of the delegates is Joshua Cahn who tells ‘Tony’: “We had StandWithUs attack this girl in an article released on their Facebook. They shared the screenshots and stuff and talk about how ‘This isn’t okay’.” 84

In pursuing their offensive, StandWithUs had effectively redefined ‘intifada’ to mean, as Din puts it, “the killing of all Jews”, and in consequence she received a barrage of abuse calling her “sexually repressed” and “scum” as well as inevitably “a terrorist”. There were even demands for Din to be expelled from the country. Din says: “I would go out and I would be walking on campus, everyone would be looking at me. I felt like I needed to hide. 85

As Joshua Cahn tells ‘Tony’: “They [StandWithUs] have all sorts of followers and some of those people are a little crazy. We have people that are saying, ‘That person should die.’ This girl was getting death threats.” 86

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The new antisemitism

“Right now the challenge is that there are people who say, ‘You know what, anti-Israel politics have nothing to do with antisemitism.’ What you’ve got to show is that they’re not the same, but they’re not entirely different either.”  — Kenneth Marcus, Founding President of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law. 87

“We’re basically messaging on the following. BDS is essentially a kind of hate-group targeting Israel. They’re anti-peace. We try not to even use the terms, because it builds their brand. We just reference to ‘boycotters’… The goal is to actually make things happen. And to figure out what are the means of communication to do that.” — David Hazony, Managing Director at TIP. 88

Despite its name, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law is primarily a pro-Israel lobby group. Founding President Kenneth Marcus tells ‘Tony’: “The goal is to have the federal government to establish a definition of antisemitism that is parallel to the State Department definition.” 89

The US State Department adopted the so-called “three Ds” test or 3D test in 2010. The three Ds stand for Delegitimization of Israel; Demonization of Israel; and subjecting Israel to Double standards, each of which, according to the test, indicates antisemitism.

Joseph Berman, a rabbi and campaigner to Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) told Al Jazeera: “There have been attempts by some to try to define antisemitism in such a way that conflates actual antisemitism with completely legitimate criticism of Israel or Israeli government policies. They are overly broad and vague to the point where any kind of criticism of Israel or of Israeli government policy can be labelled as antisemitic.” 90

John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at University of Chicago and an outspoken critic of Israel adds, “One of the major tactics that the lobby uses to defend Israel – and it’s done this for a long period of time, but it’s using it more and more these days – is to identify people who criticise Israel as an antisemite.” 91

Al Jazeera also spoke to The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah who pointed to the inherent inconsistencies in these definitions of the new antisemitism: “According to their definition, if I say to you that I believe that instead of separate Israeli and Palestinian states there should be a single state, where Jews, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, everyone has full equal rights they way they do under the constitution of the United States, that would make me an antisemite because I’m denying Israel’s right to be a Jewish state… They have created this perverse version where calling for everyone in Palestine-Israel to have equal rights is somehow an attack on Jews. And they’re trying to get this pushed into official definitions and this has been a key goal of people like Kenneth Marcus and the Brandeis Center. So that they can then go after people who are advocating for equality and bring them up on charges that they are actually antisemitic bigots.” 92

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Fake news and ‘troll farms’: The Israel Project

“TIP changes the way thousands of media reports appear every year and then we add platforms of our own, getting people talking, taking command of the situation…” — from a promotional video for The Israel Project. 93

“We exist to articulate the reasons that the notion of a Jewish state is a good thing for us as Americans, and it’s a good thing for Jews, and a good thing for Israel, and a good thing for the West, and a good thing for everybody.” — Josh Block, CEO and President of The Israel Project (TIP). 94

“You’ve got the lobbying and the politics, and you’ve got the ideas and the think tanks. But you can’t define the meaning of those ideas, other people are doing it for you. Then the third leg of the stool isn’t there and it falls over.” — Josh Block. 95

Speaking about Josh Block, ‘Tony’s boss, Eric Gallagher, tells him, “He’s brilliant in a mad scientist sort of way. He was AIPACs spokesman. He was the troublemaker, always breaking the rules and always getting s—t done. He’s very effective at strategic communications and dealing with journalists.” 96

Gallagher continues: “At AIPAC he was the man. I mean he could get anything onto the front page of the Washington Post.” 97

Block, who is in the habit of brainstorming every conversation, tells ‘Tony’ “The most effective thing you can do in Washington is both explain your point of view and explain why other people disagree with it. Everyone knows that people come with perspectives. You know reporters are people… We live in a sophisticated world, but the question is: ‘are you credible?’” 98

He continues: “People aren’t reading as much, they’re not interested in fact, history is a little bit bunk, you know. A lot of people come up now, and there’s this notion of postmodernism and nothing is true anymore. We are at this interesting moment in time where we need to understand what it is that affects people’s understanding and perceptions about what’s right and what’s wrong… All these visual stimulus and stuff, how are people learning things?” 99

David Hazony is the editor of The Tower magazine and also a Managing Director at The Israel Project. He explains to ‘Tony’ that, “Every month we do a national poll exactly looking for the kinds of messages that work. We know that people get their news mostly through scanning headlines. So the headlines are very carefully messaged.” 100

Hazony says, “We don’t have any reporters, we just have three people who churn out carefully crafted headlines, with article texts that convince you that the headline is true.” 101

Understanding how the headline alone carries the story enables The Israel Project to maximise the propagandistic impact of this kind of pseudo-journalism. The point is never to get to the real debate.

“You can send me the greatest article on you want about the Iran deal,” Hazony tells ‘Tony’, “but I promise you that a ten second video will get a thousand times as many views.” 102

*

“The visual media is trumping words. More imagine, more visual, more accessible, non heavy thinking stuff.” — Josh Block.  103

“Kittens are easy to sell; apartheid is a much harder product to get people to buy.” — Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada. 104

Jordon Schachtel, another employee at TIP, tells ‘Tony’: “We’re putting together a lot of pro-Israel media through various social media channels that aren’t The Israel Project’s channels.” 105

He adds: “So we have a lot of side projects that we are trying to influence the public debate with. That’s why it’s a secretive thing. Because we don’t want people to know that these side projects are associated with The Israel Project.” 106

An article published by The Electronic Intifada based on leaked footage from the documentary was first to disclose the operation of (what should properly be called) ‘troll farms’ operating under the cover of The Israel Project (TIP), with sockpuppet accounts to sway public opinion and disseminate propaganda on the social media platform Facebook:

 The Israel Project, a major advocacy group based in Washington, is running a secret influence campaign on Facebook.

The video above, exclusive to The Electronic Intifada, shows the latest excerpts to leak from the documentary.

Earlier leaked footage published by The Electronic Intifada and the Grayzone Project has already revealed underhanded tactics by anti-Palestinian groups planned and executed in collusion with the Israeli government.

In the newest clips, David Hazony, the managing director of The Israel Project, is heard telling Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter: “There are also things that we do that are completely off the radar. We work together with a lot of other organizations.”

“We produce content that they then publish with their own name on it,” Hazony adds. 107

A major part of the operation is the creation of a network of Facebook “communities” focused on history, the environment, world affairs and feminism that appear to have no connection to pro-Israel advocacy, but are used by The Israel Project to spread pro-Israel messaging.

The same piece continues:

One of these Facebook pages, Cup of Jane, has almost half a million followers.

Cup of Jane’s “About” page describes it as being about “Sugar, spice and everything nice.”

But there is no disclosure that this is a page run for the purpose of promoting Israel.

The “About” page does identify Cup of Jane as being “a community launched by TIP’s Future Media Project in DC.”

There is however no direct and explicit mention of Israel or indication that “TIP” stands for The Israel Project.

The Electronic Intifada understands that even this vague acknowledgment of who is behind the page was only added after The Israel Project learned about the existence of the Al Jazeera undercover documentary and presumably anticipated being exposed.

The Israel Project also added an acknowledgment on its own website that it runs the Facebook pages. However its website is not linked from the Facebook pages themselves.

There is no evidence in the Internet Archive of the page existing before May 2017 – months after “Tony’s” cover was blown.

According to [former employee Jordan] Schachtel, The Israel Project is putting considerable resources into producing Cup of Jane and a network of similar pages.

“We have a team of like 13 people. We are working on a lot of videos, explainers,” he tells Tony in Al Jazeera’s documentary. “A lot of it is just random topics and then maybe like 25 percent of it would be like Israel or Jewish-based.”

“Cup of Jane” is just one of many such fake websites:

Other pages identified by the censored Al Jazeera documentary as run by The Israel Project include Soul Mama, History Bites, We Have Only One Earth and This Explains That.

Some have hundreds of thousands of followers.

History Bites does not reveal its affiliation with The Israel Project, not even with the vague formula used by Cup of Jane and the other pages.

History Bites simply describes itself as conveying “The awesome of History in bite-sized chewable pieces!”

That page re-posted Cup of Jane posts presenting Golda Meir, the Israeli prime minister who implemented racist and violent policies against indigenous Palestinians, and viewed Palestinian women giving birth as an existential threat, as a feminist hero.

A 2016 This Explains That video spreads false Israeli claims that the UN cultural agency UNESCO “erased” Jewish and Christian reverence for holy sites in Jerusalem.

History Bites reposted the video last December stating that it “seems to support President Trump’s declaration today that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state of Israel.”

The video has received almost five million views.

Another video posted by History Bites attempts to justify Israel’s June 1967 surprise attack on Egypt, launching the war in which Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights.

The video describes Israel’s military occupation of East Jerusalem as the city being “reunified” and “liberated.”108

Click here to read the full article at The Electronic Intifada.

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Dirty tricks on the campus – Part I

“We use all sorts of technology. We use corporate-level, enterprise-grade social media intelligence software. Almost all of this happens on social media so, we have custom algorithms and formulae that acquire this stuff immediately… Generally within about 30 seconds or less of one of these things popping up on campus, whether it’s a Facebook event, whether it’s the right kind of mention on Twitter, the system picks it up, it goes into a queue, alerts our researchers and they evaluate it. They tag it, and if it rises to a certain level, we issue early-warning alerts to our partners.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 109

“In terms of information sharing, we did add the Ministry of Strategic Affairs to our operations and  intelligence brief. Which kind of goes back to how we get information about what’s going on on America college campuses” — Ian Hersh, Director of Operations for the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 110

In August 2016, the Algemeiner reported that:

“A ring of anti-Israel students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) has created a “cesspool” of antisemitism and racist behaviour…” 111

The allegations were based on monitoring carried out by a secretive organisation called ‘Canary Mission’ and they quickly caused a stir not just within Washington’s pro-Israel circles but also further afield. In Britain, the Daily Mail reported the same story under the title “University of Tennessee is a ‘cesspool’ of anti-Semitic and racist behaviour, anonymous watchdog group claims”. Interestingly the Daily Mail’s own version is likewise anonymous, the byline merely crediting ‘Dailymail.com reporter’. 112

Undercover reporter ‘Tony’ met up with Aviva Vogelstein, the Director of Legal Initiatives at the pro-Israel group Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law. She told him:

“The thing that I’m working on you might have seen in the news recently about a cesspool of antisemitism at the University of Tennessee. So the exposé was on these antisemitic tweets. They uncovered 14 current students, five recent graduates at the University of Tennessee that had tweeted all these horribly anti-Semitic things.” 113

Continuing: “They’re called Canary Mission. Nobody really knows who they are. They expose antisemitism, anti-Israelism and anti-Americanism in the US on college campuses. They study it and then release these exposé reports, but they’re secret, they don’t reveal who they are.” 114

Later Vogelstein drafts a letter on behalf of the Louis D. Brandeis Center calling for the University of Tennessee to take a stand. It says antisemitism is “a long-standing problem on the UTK campus” and asks the university to adopt a definition such as the 3D test used by the State Department. 115

Vogelstein tells ‘Tony’:

“We’re telling them that basically they need to issue a stronger statement. They need to investigate the students that were involved. They need to offer education and training… The problem right now I think, on universities is that administrations don’t realise that anti-Israel statements or anti-Zionist statements often are also antisemitic.” 116

Adding:

“We’re trying to get universities to adopt a uniform definition, whether it’s the State Department’s definition or a similar version of it. Because then we think that the administrators would be able to understand antisemitism better and discipline students for hateful and discriminatory actions.” 117

The Brandeis Center also called for the university to screen what it described as a “path-breaking film” entitled Unmasked Judeophobia: The Threat to Civilisation. Made by Gloria Z. Greenfield, the Honorary Artist in Residence at the University of Tennessee/Knoxville, the film includes interviews with Alan Dershowitz, John Bolton, Jonathan Sacks, Melanie Phillips, and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alonalso amongst others. It also prominently features President of the Brandeis Center, Kenneth Marcus. The central claim made by the film is the ‘clash of civilisations’ notion that Muslims have adopted Nazi-like antisemitism and are going to lead the next holocaust. It was duly screened at UTK on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In formal testimony given before the Tennessee State Assembly, former Jewish Society President, Jordan Shipowitz, later states on record: “When people say things like we are facing antisemitism, it hits us pretty hard. When we were told that this was being said about our university… we were really confused because we had never heard about any form of antisemitism happening on our campus… so if we’re the students who are supposed to have been affected by this climate you would think we would know about it…” 118

*

Psychological warfare

“With the anti-Israel people, what’s most effective, what we found at least in the last year is you do the opposition research, put up some anonymous website, and then put up targeted Facebook ads… Every few hours you drip out a new piece of the opposition research. It’s psychological warfare. It drives them crazy… They either shut down or they spend time responding to it and investigating it, which is time they can’t spend attacking Israel. So that’s incredibly effective.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 119

“Canary Mission is highly, highly effective to the extent that we monitor the Students for Justice in Palestine and their allies.” — Jacob Baime. 120

Professor of American Studies at Purdue University, Bill Mullen had been an active campaigner in the BDS movement for many years. He was targeted by a more elaborate smear campaign that started when his wife was sent a link to a website. On the website was a letter purportedly written by a former student that accused her husband of sexual harassment. Soon he found other accounts making similar allegations. Mullen says: “Within about 48 hours we were able to establish that these multiple sites that we had found attacking me had been taken out almost at the same time, and that they were clearly the work of the same people… one of the accounts said that in the process of putting my hand on her [Mullen’s accuser], I had invited her to a Palestine organisational meeting. I thought well you’re sort of putting your cards on the table there, whoever you are…” 121

A student at Purdue who Mullen worked with and a former activist with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) had also been targeted by one of the sites. Speaking anonymously to Al Jazeera, she said: “It said that I would get drunk and go and have sex with multiple guys and that was just a huge attack on my character and a massive lie… My parents were very upset, they immediately told me to quit my involvement with SJP… The main focus was to attack my reputation and my character. Pretty much to mess with me so that I don’t want to continue my involvement with SJP.” 122

Bull Mullen says: “It was really an attempt by people who didn’t know us to think well maybe I can destroy this marriage at the very least. Maybe I can cause them tremendous personal suffering. The same letter… used the name of our daughter. I think that was the worst moment. I think we thought these people will do anything – they’re capable of doing anything.” 123

*

BDS = terrorism

“Quite a few among the BDS leaders hold ties… financial, organisational ties and other ties with hostile elements to the State of Israel. Our role is using intel to expose these ties. And by exposing that, we will know how to act against them, to isolate them, to transfer information to different intelligence agencies around the world. Israel must carry out a targeted civil thwarting of the leadership of BDS activists.” — Yisrael Katz, Israeli Minister of Intelligence. 124

“Just stay on message. And what is that message? BDS is a hate movement.” — Yeal Lerman Mazar, the Director of Legal Affairs for StandWithUs. 125

“When you talk about SJP and when you talk about BDS, you talk about them as a hate group, as a movement that absolutely endorses violence against civilians – not military conflict – but violence against civilians, aka terrorism. You discredit the messenger as a way of discrediting the message.” — Noah Pollak, Executive Director of the Emergency Committee for Israel. 126

While it was true that a handful of the tweets posted by students at UTK were unpardonably vile and antisemitic, the main aim of pro-Israel campaigners was to construct a far larger blacklist of students and to spuriously accuse the Palestinian solidarity movement as a whole of sympathising with terrorism. Soon afterwards, posters appeared that linked BDS supporters to Hamas.

Similar posters appeared on campuses across America and the David Horowitz Freedom Center sent out a press release claiming responsibility as “part of the Freedom Center’s campaign, ‘Stop the Jew Hatred on Campus,’ which seeks to confront the agents of campus anti-Semitism and expose the financial and organizational relationship between the terror group Hamas and Hamas support groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine”:

On the night of October 4th, 2016, the David Horowitz Freedom Center launched a campaign to combat the terrorist support groups on college campuses across the country. UCLA was chosen as the first campus for this effort where dozens of posters linking Students for Justice in Palestine to their terrorist heroes were placed on campus. Posters have subsequently been placed on 9 other campuses including UC-Irvine, UC-Berkeley, Brooklyn College, Vassar College, San Francisco State University, San Diego State University, Tufts University, the University of Tennessee, and the University of Chicago. 127

In response to the campaign, Mondoweiss reported:

Palestinian rights activists on American college campuses have become the target of posters that attempt to smear them as supporters of violence, with a new round of posters calling out students and teachers by name.

“Do you want to show your support for HAMAS TERRORISTS whose stated goal is the elimination of the Jewish state?” one poster asks. Then, posing as the national Palestinian rights group, says “Join us! Students for Justice in Palestine.” The poster drives home its point with a cartoon of a man wearing a kaffiyeh, pointing at the viewer like Uncle Sam. 128

Click here to read the full article entitled “New campaign uses racist posters to target Palestinian campus activists by name”.

As The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah told The Real News on September 10th:

‘Canary Mission’ is part of a much bigger effort, effectively orchestrated by the Israeli government, in which groups like the ‘Israel on Campus Coalition and ‘The Foundation for Defense of Democracies are acting as agents, or front groups, for the Israeli government, helping it to gather information on US citizens; to harass US citizens; and other activities – without being registered as foreign agents of the State of Israel.

Click here to read more in an earlier post entitled “forget ‘Russiagate’, why is no-one talking about ‘Israelgate’”

*

Divide and conquer: anti-apartheid and Black Lives Matter

 “Martin Luther King will turn in his grave if he saw the anti-Israel tendencies or policies that are starting to emerge with Black Lives Matter.” — Andy David, the Israeli Consul General in San Francisco. 129

“What’s the model for the BDS movement? The model is South Africa, so was that a bad thing to do?” — Keith Weissman, a former analysis with AIPAC (1993 – 2004). 130

One of the latest strategies developed by The Israel Project (TIP) in efforts to halt BDS has been to co-opt African-American activists by means of a manufactured campaign titled “Stop stealing my apartheid”. The idea is to drip-feed articles by black South Africans into the mainstream press with claims that BDS is subverting their cause.

This appeal to prominent black campaigners has been surprisingly successful as Andy David, the Israeli Consul General in San Francisco, explained to delegates at the annual conference of the IAC:

“Dr Clarence B Jones who wrote the draft speech for Martin Luther King, ‘I have a dream’. He was his lawyer. He was his close friend. He’s somebody that I reached out to, he became a very close and personal friend. Because of that relationship, he published three articles in the Huffington Post, explaining why their agenda was hijacked.” 131

David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force, which combats BDS on American Campuses, also confirmed that this approach can be effective: “Black South Africans who were apartheid activists, who were brought to Israel, saw the reality, came home angry with BDS. They felt lied to, they felt someone had tried to steal their narrative… This is an effective tool. Bringing these black South African former BDS supporters, now Israel supporters, to America campuses.” 132

In their efforts to cultivate a new generation of black leaders that are pro-Israel, the lobby is today inviting black delegates to AIPAC conferences as well as on all-expenses paid trips to Israel. Another speaker at the annual IAC conference, Judith Varnai Shorer, the Israeli Consul General in Atlanta, gave delegates an example of her own:

“I had last week a sit-down dinner at my house for 40 people, which I considered the leadership of the black community. Many very important people. They can be part of our doing and activities.” 133

Along with the usual carrots, the Israel lobby also carries a big stick as Black Lives Matter discovered soon after it declared support for BDS. One New York nightclub was forced to cancel a fundraising event. Eric Gallagher, ‘Tony’s boss, told him that The Israel Project had been behind that decision: “I don’t know if you saw this club ditched a Black Lives Matter event. It was one of our donors, we just put in a call to him and he put in a call to the place.” 134

As Khury Petersen-Smith, an activist with Black Lives Matter, told Al Jazeera: “If you’re disgusted by segregation in this country. If you’re disgusted by South African apartheid, then you should also be disgusted by Israeli apartheid.” 135

Adding: “There’s something on the one hand laughable about it, but there’s something also really insidious about this. You’re using the credibility of a freedom struggle to try to oppose another freedom struggle. And I think that’s appalling.” 136

Keith Weissman told Al Jazeera: “They’re worried that the BDS movement will get to the stature that the South Africa boycott got to, and they’re trying to stop it now. Imagine if the apartheid regime of de Klerk was able to have a lobby in America that made it a crime to support that boycott. Imagine that.” 137

*

Dirty tricks on campus – part II

“We are for example in the process of creating a comprehensive picture of the campuses. If you want to defeat a phenomenon you must have the upper hand in terms of information and knowledge.” — Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. 138

“We built up this massive national political campaign to crush them, and to fight back and to fight fire with fire… What we saw was a growing global movement to destroy Israel that was manifesting on American college campuses. It makes sense that they would try to poison our next generation.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 139

Back in episode 1, ‘Tony’ asked Julia Reifkind, Director of Community Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, to describe a typical day. She told him: “It’s mainly gathering intel, reporting back to Israel. That’s a lot of what I do. To report back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and make sure they have the right information, it’s in The Knesset, of what’s going on here. So that’s why I do a lot of reporting. I talk to people from tons of organisations. Just trying to get the information that I could to report back. Kind of like just talk through some of the issues with those people, see what their plan was, tell them maybe some ideas we’ve had, give them our support in that behind the scenes way. ” 140

However, Reifkind has no contact with her handlers in Israel. Instead, she writes her intelligence briefs and then awaits their instructions: “I write a report and give it to my boss, who translates it. It’s really weird. We don’t talk to them on the phone or email. There’s a special server that’s really secure, that I don’t have access to because I’m an American. You have to have clearance to access the server. It’s called ‘Cables’. It’s not even the same in Hebrew, it’s like literally ‘Cables’. I’ve seen it, it looks really bizarre. So I write reports that my boss translates into the ‘Cables’ and sends them. Then they’ll send something back and he’ll translate it and tell me what I need to do.” 141

Reifkind had also been president of the Pro-Israel group Aggies for Israel at University of California Davis (‘Aggies’ being the collective nickname for all students of UC Davis which was formerly an agricultural college):

“I came to UC Davis, which had a reputation of being really pro-Israel. Now it’s in the top five most anti-Israel schools in the US.” 142

Asked by ‘Tony’, “Is the embassy is trying to leverage faculty?” Reifkind replies flatly, “yeah.” She then adds: “We’re working with several faculty advocacy groups that kind of train faculty, so we are helping them a little bit with funding, connections, bringing them to speak, having them to speak to diplomats and people at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that need this information.” 143

In early 2015, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) brought a BDS motion before the student senate. Marcelle Obeid, who was then President of SJP at UC Davis, read out a statement denouncing her university “for supporting apartheid and genocide of my people in Palestine”.144 She says: “I was very, very nervous. The entire room was filled. I think we had about 600 students and people from the community coming in to witness this vote… I ended the speech with something along the lines of being on the right side of history and for the university to end its unethical ties with these corporations which were doing brutal things to Palestinians.” 145

Reifkind tells ‘Tony’: “We knew they were going to win because our entire student senate was all pro-BDS. They ran for that purpose and won for that purpose and we had been pushed out of student government for months.” 146 In response, and following on from Obeid’s statement in favour of the motion, Reifkind had issued a very carefully rehearsed address to the senate 147. Then, and not wishing to enter into any actual debate, a pro-Israel student faction staged a walkout; all of which was filmed for later purposes:

“We went into it knowing we were going to lose, so our strategy was how to ultimately win while losing the vote.” 148

Although the BDS motion was resoundingly passed, the campaign waged by the Israel lobby was next stepped up a gear:

“That day all of us released 50 op-eds in major news sources, so that when people made a hashtag [and it was trending] when people opened their Facebook, it wouldn’t be them celebrating their victory, it would be us sharing our stories. Once it blew up, then random people like the Huffington Post contacted me and it was like, ‘Do you have anything to say?’ And I was like, ‘Conveniently I wrote an op-ed two weeks ago just in case.” 149

The op-ed entitled “My 16-Day Journey Confronting Divestment at UC Davis” reads not unlike a personal statement. It begins:

Fifteen days.

I only had 15 days in office before my university faced the Divestment, Boycott and Sanctions Resolution. […] Fifteen days to plan, strategize and act. Fifteen days to delegate, collaborate and struggle. Fifteen days to lose sleep. Fifteen days to gain the trust of a whole community and empower them to believe in me, as a leader, and to believe in themselves.

But those 15 days don’t define me.

And continues:

This past year, I have been involved with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, otherwise known as AIPAC.

After attending two AIPAC Saban Leadership Seminars within the last year, I have learned valuable leadership skills that have taught me how to mobilize, lobby and educate others about the importance of the American-Israel relationship. Now, as the AIPAC Campus Liason for UC Davis, I believe it is very important to take this positive pro-Israel message and be proactive. 150

Reifkind tells ‘Tony’: “We had a ‘Davis Faculty for Israel’ group, and they were hugely helpful to us. Some of them were retired lawyers, so they’d write legal documents for us. They knew the administration. They were tenured. They had pull.” 151

Muslim student Azka Fayyaz was another committed pro-Palestinian activist at UC Davis who the pro-Israel group chose to single out. On the basis of a mischievous Facebook post by Fayyaz in which she had written tongue-in-cheek that “Hamas & Sharia have taken over UC Davis. Brb crying over the resilience” they accused her of political violence: “They just came up to me and said ‘you’re a terrorist’, ‘are you a terrorist?’, ‘are you going to bring terrorism to the student government?’ And things of that nature.” 152

Then, when Fox News picked up the story, they linked footage of the walkout to Fayyaz’s Facebook post. As the story went viral, the course of events was now significantly altered to lend the impression that rather than leaving willingly, the pro-Israel protesters had been forced out of the meeting by baying Islamic extremists. The following dialogue is from Fox News:

“Reports say when the Israel supporters tried to object to this vote, the pro-Palestinian students you just saw tried to shout them down with cries of Allahu Akbar… and what does that represent? The subjugation of women, the torture of homosexuals, the torture of Christians, the crucifixion of Christians, that’s what it has come to represent and that’s what they’re shouting.” 153

Demonisation of the pro-Palestinian cause was then given another tremendous shot in the arm after someone anonymously defaced the Jewish fraternity house by painting it with obscene antisemitic graffiti. The news media arrived at the scene within hours to report on how SJP’s victory in the senate was the trigger for campus hate crimes. Roseanne Barr tweeted: “I hope all the Jews leave UC Davis & it [sic] then it gets nuked!”

Speaking with ‘Tony’, Julia Reifkind confides:  “I was dealing with news outlets, the media, and it was the day after, there were some swastikas on campus and it was like… it all blew up… We don’t even know [who did them]. We just think it was some random white supremacist type people who just came, did it and left. We don’t think it was students.  ” 154

“That’s very surprising”, says former President of SJP, Marcelle Obeid, who had been at the centre of the storm, “because it was very clear from their behaviour towards us and their attitude towards us that we had done some heinous crime to them and now we deserved to pay for it.” 155

Azka Fayyaz told Al Jazeera: “Students who were part of the divestment movement painted swastikas on the fraternity: that’s what she was hinting, that’s what she was trying to imply.” 156

And nor do Reifkind’s remarks to ‘Tony’ accord with her statement reported given to the Jewish Journal which reads:

Reifkind said she is “grateful” for the UC Davis administration’s condemnation of the swastika incident, but she also expressed disappointment that school leaders have not drawn a more direct and public “connection between the divestment resolution itself and anti-Semitism.” 157

“Why would we act against our interests” asks Marcelle Obeid, “and do that at a moment when we were victorious? The fact that [this crime] was so quickly tossed on to us… was damaging. It was hugely damaging.” 158

And if the antisemitic attack was in fact a hoax then if would not be the only instance:

Reflecting on events, Marcelle Obeid told Al Jazeera: “Wow, it looks like the State of Israel is employing little spies and you can’t take a breath without Israel hearing about it… They actually were found to have put cameras in the rooms where there were meetings going on – I liked meeting outside where there are no rooms, and no possible cameras under the chairs or wherever they may have put them.” 159

“Every single event that I put on you would have these pro-Israel groups coming out before our guests even got there with their cameras videotaping….” 160

“After looking back on everything I feel a little creepy because of what happened after the vote. People that were affiliated with the group were smeared and had to deal with these very personal crises of the world calling us terrorists and the world thinking that we were this spiteful hate group.” 161

She adds: “It’s pretty unequivocal how organised they were. How brutal and ruthless that narrative was and how it affected us in the end.” 162

*

 Canary Mission and the new McCarthyism

“Ensure that today’s radical’s are not tomorrow’s employees” — from Canary Mission promotion video. 163

They are terrified of Canary Mission and it’s about time.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 164

Finding her name on the Canary Mission site, Marcelle Obeid says, “It was shattering to me because I had to look for a job… and now I had this website smearing my name before I even got a chance to really make a name for myself.” 165

Summer Awad was another pro-Palestinian activist who discovered her name was listed. She told Al Jazeera: “Somebody did contact my employer and asked for me to be fired based on my profile and my pro-Palestinian activism. They said you know that if they continued to employ me that their values are antisemitic… It can be really scary at first. I was mostly harassed on Twitter. They were tweeting me every two to three days. They take screenshots even way back to my Facebook pictures that don’t even look like me anymore. Just digging and digging through my online presence.” 166

Another pro-Palestinian activist and member of SJP, Mohammed Abou Ghazala, said: “We had always been afraid of ending up on there. It was very personal. They see us as such a threat that they have to twist and turn and delve into our personal lives as if they are trying to scare us into stopping our work. Their Twitter campaign is relentless.”167

Drost Kokoye is another member of SJP who was blacklisted by Canary Mission. She told Al Jazeera: “Every picture that I post on Facebook, it goes on to one of their websites. With every tweet that I put out, every hashtag that I post on to Instagram, goes into one of their files.” 168

At the end of the first half of episode 3, we are reminded of Jacob Baime’s somewhat incriminatory denial. Regarding the dirty tactics employed by Canary Mission to smear and blacklist activists, he tells ‘Tony’: “F—k them, we’re doing it back.” Before quickly inserting, “I mean, not ‘we’, just some anonymous group.” 169

*

The man behind Canary Mission: Adam Milstein

“There’s a guy named Adam Milstein who you might want to meet, he’s a convicted felon. That’s a bad way to describe him. He’s a real-estate mogul.” — Eric Gallagher, former Director (2010–2015) at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). 170

“It is very important that we are proud Jews. We’re not, ‘Oh you know, I was born Jewish, but I’m really not Jewish and I’m not sure. We are proud Jews, we are proud about our history. We have a strong connection to the land of Israel. So this Israeli identity is now all over the world.” — Adam Milstein. 171

Adam Milstein, the son of a real estate developer Hillel Milstein, was born in Haifa. In 1971, he was conscripted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and served during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He then moved to the United States with wife Gila in 1983 and became the co-founder and Chairman of the Israeli-American Council (IAC) in 2007. Two years later in 2009 he was convicted of tax evasion. Gallagher tells ‘Tony’ that when he was at AIPAC and working with Milstein: “I was literally emailing back and forth with him while he was in jail.” 172 He adds, “But he’s loaded. I mean he’s close to half a billion dollars.” 173

In 2000, Milstein founded the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, which today funds a plethora of pro-Israel campaign organisations, while he personally sits on the board of AIPAC’s National Council, Hasbara Fellowships, StandWithUs and (unsurprisingly) the ICC. In 2015, he collaborated with Trump’s largest campaign donor Sheldon Adelson, and Israeli-American media proprietor Haim Saban, as one of the organizers of the Campus Maccabees Summit, an anti-BDS event held in Las Vegas that had involved more than fifty major pro-Israel groups gathered to promote the concept of a “boycott of boycotters” as advocated by hardline Israeli Education Minister, Naftali Bennett. 174

He told Arutz Sheva TV:

“We are going to boycott the boycotters once we understand clearly who the boycotters are, what groups they are comprised of, who are the individuals behind them, where is the funding coming from. We will boycott them and we will make them illegal on campuses and in the United States.” [from 2:10 mins] 175

Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate, financially backed Milstein’s Israeli-American Council and transformed it into a major force within the lobby. 176 He attended the 2016 IAC conference with another of Trump’s most prominent campaign backers and current advisor, Rudy Giuliani. In the official video from the conference, Milstein and Adelson discuss their partnership. Milstein says: “You said ‘you see the vision’ and you tell us ‘go and do it’ and we took your orders and we made it happen… and we took your money!” 177 Adelson replies: “Is there somebody else around who can give you $50 million?”

When ‘Tony’ finally meets up with Adam Milstein at IAC conference, he asks how Milstein believes they should deal with Israel’s critics. Milstein replies: “First of all, investigate who they are. What’s their agenda? They’re picking on the Jews because it’s easy, because it’s popular. We need to expose what they really are. And we need to expose the fact that they are anti- everything we believe in. And we need to put them on the run. Right now they can do whatever they like, terrorise us… We’re doing it by exposing who they are, what they are, the fact that they are racist, the fact that they are bigots, they’re anti-democracy.” 178

‘Tony’ then asks: “Do you think there is a good role to just name them as antisemites?” And Milstein replies: “Not just antisemites, it’s too simple. We need to present them for what they really are. They’re anti-freedom, they’re anti-Christian. They are anti-democracy. That’s what we need to do.” 179

At the end of episode 3, ‘Tony’ speaks again to Eric Gallagher, who tells him: “In this country you have these billionaire types who are starting to realise… I don’t need to participate in the Republican or Democratic Parties, I can build my own apparatus and have influence in Los Angeles or Detroit. Adam Milstein is one of those guys. He funds The Israel Project. He does a lot of great work.” 180

‘Tony’ then asks who is behind Canary Mission, to which Gallagher replies, “It’s him, it’s him – Yeah, I don’t know who he hired to oversee it. Adam Milstein, he’s the guy who funds it.” 181

*

Dirty Tricks on campus – Part III

“The one thing every member of Congress and president and ambassador and newspaper editor has in common is by and large they spent a little bit of time on a college campus and probably those were formative years.” — Jacob Baime, Executive Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC). 182

“It’s a chance to shout at Arabs” — an unnamed pro-Israel ‘protester’ on his way to the SJP event. 183

In episode 4, ‘Tony’ joined a protest organised by Noah Pollak that aimed to disrupt the national conference for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) taking place at George Mason University. ‘Tony’ soon discovered that all of the other ‘protesters’ were on a fellowship programme run by the Hoover Institution, a right-wing ‘think tank’.

Marshall introduced himself to ‘Tony’ on the coach and told him, “The whole fellowship strategy is like, ‘You have to be foot soldiers of the conservative movement.’” 184

He admitted to ‘Tony’ that the protest had been poorly planned: “It’s a very fly-by-the-pants procedure. It was basically just Noah Pollak coming in and being like, ‘Look, there are these jihadhis who basically support suicide bombing and they’re on a campus and you have to stop them.” 185

Adding: “They did a really s—ty job of getting me excited to show up and protest.” 186

Eventually Marshall confesses to ‘Tony’ that protesting was just one of the duties expected on the fellowship, telling him: “As we’re leaving, we mentioned to our boss yesterday that we’re going. She was like, ‘Oh, that’s mandatory, you need to go.’” 187

As further proof that the protest has been entirely staged, Marshall then jokes, “Do you know what my worst nightmare is? I’m actually not kidding, it’s a photo of Dion and I together and we’re clearly identifiable. And they’re like, ‘Oh, who are these traitors who sold out to the Jewish conspiracy for money?’” 188

Much to the amusement of his fellow ‘protesters’ on the bus, and relishing his spot in the limelight, Marshall then replies his imaginary interlocutor, saying, “I’m like we did, we cost $50,000 plus benefits.” 189

As the laughter dies down, the ‘protesters’ then have a prolonged discussion over whether or not the protest is actually worth doing. Marshall says, “If I were a high-level Jewish donor I would be a whole lot more realistic about the expectations… I’d continue to do what you’re actually doing which is focussing on the actual power structures and the power structures in and of themselves. The reality is there is not a single college president in this country that would actually sign BDS.” 190

When ‘Tony’ puts it to him that this whole protest appears like astroturfing, Marshall replies, “No, no, no, this is astroturfing… [But] it’s not that astroturfing is wrong. It’s just that Astroturf has to be committed.” 191

The escapade then gets even more farcical as the ‘protesters’ realise they are unable to locate the venue. One says, “We should pull over and ask, ‘Hey, where are the jihadhis?’” 192

Having finally arrived, the ‘protesters’ reconvene with Noah Pollak and legal advisor Yeal Lerman Mazar, the Director of Legal Affairs for StandWithUs. Mazar warns them to behave as “guests of the university” and to avoid types of behaviour that may result in them being accused of disrupting a school-sponsored activity. She ends her briefing with a reminder to “stay on message”, asking: “And what is that message? SJP is a… hate movement.” 193

She ends her briefing on the advice: “The only thing you probably want to mention is that SJP endorses violence, terrorism, things like that.” 194

Afterwards, Al Jazeera spoke to Mohammad Abou Ghazala, who is a member of SJP at George Mason University about the incidents that followed. Ghazala told them: “We start seeing groups of people coming towards us who don’t seem familiar. And they’re brandishing Israel flags and posters and signs…” 195

He continues: “… How do you respond to such wild accusations? It takes a lot to hear this and not respond… Our content is grounded in human rights, morality, ethics and international law.” 196

Although the protest against SJP had had little direct impact on the day, once again the idea was use it to plant and promote what would soon become a much bigger story online and across social media.  The story of the day as it would be told on these platforms was prescripted: that advocates for BDS are antisemitic supporters of terrorism. For instance, this is from a report of the event as it was afterwards portrayed in the Washington Free Beacon, a neoconservative website whose publisher, Michael Goldfarb, has also served as an advisor to Pollak’s Emergency Committee 197:

SJP organizers instructed their members not to acknowledge the [pro-Israel] protest, but that didn’t stop some from speaking out. One SJP member was calling the protestors “Zionist terrorists” before he was scolded to return to his workshop room. Others remarked that “Zionists are so ugly.” Another repeated numerous times that he “can’t even.” One waved his middle finger at the protesters before being escorted away by other anti-Israel activists. 198

The article was provocatively titled “Anti-Israel Hate Group Met With Protests” and carried the deliberately misleading strapline “Hamas-linked activists create student blockade to keep protesters out of annual conference”. Another article, this time published in The Tower was entitled “Why Is George Mason U. Hosting Anti-Israel Activists Who Bully Students and Excuse Terror?” It begins with an appeal to re-evaluate the First Amendment:

As a law student at George Mason University, I can certainly appreciate and defend the First Amendment rights to which all Americans are entitled. Yet we should all be deeply concerned that our university is hosting Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) national convention this weekend. SJP disguises itself as an organization promoting social justice and the Palestinian cause — yet in reality, SJP promotes war, hate, and destruction, with numerous SJP leaders, members, and guest speakers going so far as to endorse terrorism. The GMU student body deserves to know who is using our university as a place to spread extremism and lies. 199

Which is always the point, of course. Not to engage in debate, but to stifle it.

*

Final thoughts

Founded upon a Zionist conviction that denies absolutely the existence of an extant Palestinian people as encapsulated in the slogan, “a land without a people for a people without a land”, last July, The Knesset passed the so-called “nation state law” with a vote of 62-55 in favour, thereby instituting a fully-fledged apartheid system across Israel and the occupied territories. Indeed, the charity War on Want provides a factsheet that details why Israel is an apartheid state:

Under Israeli law, and in practice, Jewish Israelis and Palestinians are treated differently in almost every aspect of life including freedom of movement, family, housing, education, employment and other basic human rights. Dozens of Israeli laws and policies institutionalise this prevailing system of racial discrimination and domination.

Segregation is carried out by implementing separate legal regimes for Jewish Israelis and Palestinians living in the same area. For example, Jewish Israeli settlers living in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are governed by Israeli civil law, while Palestinians also living in the occupied West Bank are governed by Israeli military law.

Israel carries out various acts that are prohibited by the UN Apartheid Convention including:

  • Forcible transfer of  Palestinians to make way for illegal Israeli settlements.
  • Preventing Palestinians from returning to their homes and lands.
  • Systematic and severe deprivation of fundamental human rights of Palestinians based on their identity.
  • Denying Palestinians their right to freedom of movement and residence.
  • Murder, torture, unlawful imprisonment and other severe deprivation of physical liberty, especially of Palestinians living in Gaza.
  • Persecution of Palestinians because of their opposition to Apartheid.

Click here to read more at the War on Want website.

Israel can no longer defend its position on the basis of human rights, morality or international law, and having already forfeited the argument, falls back instead on a strategy that thwarts debate. The main tactics involve deflecting attention onto other rogue regimes, pleading for special privilege and immunity on the basis of the sui generis historical precedent set by The Holocaust, and lastly, most importantly, falsely accusing all opponents of the very crimes it itself commits. Anti-Israel criticism becomes antisemitic; pro-Palestinian organisations are labelled “hate movements”; and BDS supporters are blasted as “terrorist sympathisers”.

Meanwhile, as pro-Israel organisations lend financial support to brown-shirted agitator Tommy Robinson, a latter-day Oswald Mosley, as well as anti-Islam Dutch politician, Geert Wilders; and while Prime Minister Netanyahu is glad-handing his Hungarian counterpart, welcoming the ultra-nationalist Nazi sympathiser Viktor Orbán, on a state visit as a “true friend of Israel”, in Ukraine ultra-right factions of the National Guard are being supplied with Israeli weapons:

Surely then, every friend of Israel should begin asking its government this one deeply serious question. Why would a nation established as a sanctuary and homeland for Jews; one that invests multiple millions in surveilling and blacklisting supporters of BDS on the spurious grounds of antisemitism; simultaneously, be working in league with the SS-wearing Azov Battalion?

Click here to read an earlier post published last September.

*

Update:

On Monday 4th, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed in April 2016 by the Louis D. Brandeis Centre against the American Studies Association’s (ASA), the oldest scholarly organisation devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history, over its resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions:

The ruling is a significant victory for human rights campaigners and a blow to efforts by Israel lobby groups to use courts to harass, intimidate and silence supporters of Palestinian rights in U.S. universities – a tactic known as lawfare. It’s also a major boost for Americans sacked from their jobs on the back of anti-BDS legislation, denounced by critics as unconstitutional. […]

In the court’s 20-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras wrote that the pro-Israeli group had “danced around key issues” and was unable to show that they had suffered enough monetary damages to warrant a federal case.

The judge found that at most, the individual plaintiffs could seek damages of a few hundred dollars to cover membership dues they allege were misappropriated, but they would have to find some other venue to pursue their claims.

Radhika Sainath, senior attorney with the civil rights group Palestine Legal, summed up the court’s judgment saying that “the court basically said, in no uncertain words, that the plaintiffs suing ASA lied when they claimed to have ‘suffered significant economic and reputational damage’.”

“But, as the court explained, ‘nowhere’ in the lawsuit could the plaintiffs explain what that damage was. It didn’t pass the smell test,” she added.

Click here to read the full report written by Middle East Monitor and reposted by Mint Press News on Thurs 7th.

*

Additional: Quotes on Israel’s press relations & Trump’s campaign

“In my job I get to work with every major news network, and I don’t even do media. I do academic affairs. Every university president takes our calls, takes our meetings, works with us because we’re a legitimate government organisation… There are so many organisations focussed on BDS. For the most part when it comes to BDS, we are very behind the scenes. I’m meeting with university presidents, faculty, students. What they’re doing is building relationships with local politicians, making sure politicians know to turn to them when Israel-sensitive things come to the table. ” — Jackie Retig, Director of Academic Affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York. 200

“One of the reasons why Israel is covered disproportionately is the overwhelming majority of journalists covering the Middle East are based in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a place where you know after a four o’clock deadline, you can get drunk in a bar and meet beautiful women.” — Eric Gallagher, former Director (2010–2015) at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). 201

“When there’s a terror attack in Israel, our staff usually gets to the scene before the press does… They have bulletproof vests, they have cameras, and as soon as there’s… Twitter… an attack, we have like four guys at the scene. [Lior Weintraub, Director of The Israel Project’s Jerusalem office] has this rapid response team where he has people strategically placed around the country. So if there’s an attack… like the Sarona attack on Sarona Market in Tel Aviv. They take pictures and they get testimonies and by the time the press gets there, we do their jobs for them. They need a quote, they need information, they need… a picture, or a video clip, the full-service shop, you know we just give it to them. By the time the press got there, we were able to help affect the narrative because you know they’re all scrambling, they need to get this stuff to their editors immediately on what happened, back in Brussels or Washington. We’re able to get them information.” — Eric Gallagher. 202

“I was one of the first employees on the [Jeb] Bush campaign. The first time Trump came up in a conversation was when we were going to solicit him for Jeb. And we were like, ‘Why isn’t he writing a cheque?’ We would joke, this is the donor who went nuts… I hope the Justice Department doesn’t make an example out of Bush, because we were operating in a real grey zone. We raised enough money. We figured, ‘Let them come at us, we’ll defend ourselves’. We thought he was going to be the Republican nominee, everyone did at that stage.” — Eric Gallagher. 203

“The 200 families whose giving constitutes 90% of all political giving, are not giving because they want a government contract or because it’s good for their business. They’re doing it because they actually care. In my view, it’s obscene how much money there is.” — Eric Gallagher. 204

“Whatever a journalist reports, if it’s not liked by TIP or people within the government, they will put pressure on the media houses, the big networks.” — Jim Clancy, former correspondent and presenter with CNN (1982–2015). 205

‘Tony’: “So what are the main outlets that TIP work with?”

Eric Gallagher: “Washington Post is the biggest one.” 206

*

1 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 40:35 mins

2 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 38:40 mins

3 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 6:45 mins and 7:20 mins.

4 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 13:35 mins and 14:00 mins.

5 From an Al Jazeera report entitled “Israeli forces kill Palestinian woman during Gaza protests” published on January 11, 2019. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2019/01/israeli-forces-kill-palestinian-woman-gaza-protests-190111154925517.html

6 Read more at the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) http://imemc.org/article/israeli-army-bombards-gaza/

7

The strike Netanyahu was referring to occurred on Friday night.

Syrian state news agency SANA cited a military source saying on Friday that Syrian air defences had shot down Israeli missiles, but a warehouse had been hit.

Most of the missiles fired by “Israeli military planes” were intercepted at around 11:00pm (2100 GMT), the source said.

“Only a ministry of transport warehouse at Damascus international airport was hit,” SANA cited the military source as saying.

From a report entitled “Netanyahu confirms air strikes on Iranian targets in Syria” published by France 24 with AFP, Reuters on January 13, 2019. https://www.france24.com/en/20190113-israel-claims-air-strike-iran-target-syria

8 From a report entitled “Gaza not ‘liveable’ by 2020 barring urgent action: U.N” written by Nidal al-Mughrabi, published in Reuters on August 27, 2012. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-palestinians-gaza-un/gaza-not-liveable-by-2020-barring-urgent-action-u-n-idUSBRE87Q0OE20120827

9 https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/221/text

10 From an article entitled “U.S. Senate’s First Bill, in the Midst of the Shutdown, is a Bipartisan Defense of the Israeli Government from Boycotts” written by Ryan Grim and Glenn Greenwald, Published by The Intercept on January 5, 2019. https://theintercept.com/2019/01/05/u-s-senates-first-bill-in-midst-of-shutdown-is-a-bipartisan-defense-of-the-israeli-government-from-boycotts/

11 Hat Tip to The Last American Vagabond  broadcast January 13, 2019:

12 From an article entitled “The US Senate Just Quietly Advanced A Free Speech Busting Anti-BDS Bill” written by Whitney Webb, published in Mint Press News on January 29, 2019. https://www.mintpressnews.com/the-senate-just-quietly-passed-a-free-speech-busting-anti-bds-bill/254408/

13 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 31:10 mins

14 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 42:20 mins

15 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 48:05 mins

16 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 4:50 mins. Sima Vaknin-Gil, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, was speaking to a gathering of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.

17 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 30:20 mins and 30:35 mins.

18 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 36:10 mins

19 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 37:20 mins

20 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 28:15 mins and 28:50 mins.

21 From an article entitled “What’s in Al Jazeera’a undercover film on the US Israel lobby?” written by Asa Winstanley, published by the Electronic Intifada on March 5, 2018. https://electronicintifada.net/content/whats-al-jazeeras-undercover-film-us-israel-lobby/23496

22 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 35:35 mins.

23 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 5:50 mins.

24 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 34:45 mins

25 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 39:15 mins

26 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 22:15 mins

27 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 22:30 mins

28 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 39:55 mins

29 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 38:55 mins

30 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 49:15 mins

31 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 6:00 and 6:20 mins.

32 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 37:55 mins

33 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 12:45 mins.

34 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 9:30 mins.

35 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 10:15 mins

36 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 10:25 mins

37 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 11:40 mins.

38 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 13:05 mins.

39 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 13:55 mins.

40 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 12:20 mins.

41 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 13:25 mins and 14:05 mins.

42 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 7:55 mins.

43 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 8:40 mins.

44 From an article entitled “A Beautiful Friendship? In Search of the Truth about the Israel Lobby’s Influece on Washington” written by Glenn Frankel, published by The Washington Post on July 16, 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/12/AR2006071201627_pf.html

45 Pub.L. 110–81, 121 Stat. 735, enacted September 14, 2007

46 Taken from the current American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) mission statement. http://www.aiefdn.org/

47 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 17:40 mins.

48 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 20:25 mins.

49 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 20:50 mins.

50 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 21:30 mins.

51 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 21:50 mins.

52 From an article entitled “Sorry, Mr Moran, You’re Not Fit For Public Office”, written by Marc Fisher, published in The Washington Post on March 11, 2003. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/2003/03/11/sorry-mr-moran-youre-not-fit-for-public-office/f87b84d3-1564-45fd-8653-cb87196b4097/?utm_term=.d04f16ceb5c3

53 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 15:55 mins.

54 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 6:15 mins.

55 Source: The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 12:55 mins.

56 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 13:15 mins.

57 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 37:50 mins and 38:15 mins.

58 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 6:15 mins and 7:00 mins.

59 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 7:40 mins

60 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 8:40 mins

61 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 5:25 mins.

62 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 23:05 mins.

63 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 34:10 mins

64 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 40:20 mins and 41:10 mins.

65 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 5:05 mins

66 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 46:55 mins

67 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 45:05 mins

68 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 26:15 mins.

69 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 16:45 mins.

70 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 38:40 mins.

71 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 39:05 mins.

72 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 45:20 mins and 45:35 mins.

73 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 45:50 mins and 47:00 mins.

74 From an article entitled “The Holy Land Five” published by Al Jazeera on October 5, 2016. https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/aljazeeraworld/2016/10/holy-land-foundation-hamas-161004083025906.html

75 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 33:25 mins

76 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 15:35 mins.

77 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 18:00 mins.

78 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 3:55 mins.

79 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 5:05 mins.

80 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 15:20 mins.

81 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 15:05 mins

82 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 5:25 mins.

83 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 5:35 mins.

84 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 12:15 mins

85 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 13:45 mins

86 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 14:15 mins

87 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 33:00 mins.

88 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 13:45 mins.

89 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 33: 25 mins.

90 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 33: 50 mins.

Although a Jewish organisation, JVP is also pilloried by the Israel Lobby: “Jewish Voice for Peace or as I call it Jewish Voice for Hamas… It would be like having a group called ‘African Americans for Slavery’. It’s crazy right? A lot of the JVP people are not Jewish. They’ve had a real problem of people basically pretending to be Jews because the anti-Israel activism sounds – it’s a little more sexy.” — Noah Pollak, Executive Director of the Emergency Committee for Israel.

An accusation that Joseph Berman, a rabbi and campaigner with JVP, described as “an absurd claim”

From The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 46:25 mins

91 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 34: 10 mins.

92 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 40: 00 mins and 41:10.

93 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 31:50 mins

94 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 32:05 mins

95 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 32:30 mins

96 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 32:45 mins

97 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 33:00 mins

98 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 33:05 mins

99 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 35:55 mins

100 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 34:20 mins

101 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 34:55 mins

102 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 35:45 mins

103 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 39:40 mins

104 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 39:55 mins

105 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 37:30 mins

106 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 37:35 mins

107 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 37:00 mins

108 From an article entitled “What’s in Al Jazeera’s undercover film on the US Israel Lobby?” written by Asa Winstanley, published in The Electronic Intifada on March 5, 2018. https://electronicintifada.net/content/whats-al-jazeeras-undercover-film-us-israel-lobby/23496

109 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 6:55 and 7:40 mins.

110 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 7:20 mins.

111 From an article entitled “EXCLUSIVE: ‘Cesspool’ of Anitsemitic, Anti-Israel, Racist Behavior at U of Tennessee Uncovered by Covert Watchdog Group” written by Lea Speyer, published in the Algemeiner on August 4, 2016. https://www.algemeiner.com/2016/08/04/exclusive-cesspool-of-antisemitic-anti-israel-racist-behavior-at-u-of-tennessee-uncovered-by-watchdog-group/

112 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3730310/University-Tennessee-cesspool-anti-Semitic-racist-behavior-anonymous-watchdog-group-alleges.html

113 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 27:15 mins.

114 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 27:55 mins.

115 From The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 34: 30 mins.

116 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 32:00 mins and 32:25 mins.

117 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 34: 45 mins.

118 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 44: 15 mins.

119 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 16:40 mins, 17:05 mins and 18:10 mins.

120 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 19: 05 mins.

121 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 16:50 mins and 17:15 mins.

122 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 17:50 mins and 18:20 mins.

123 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 18: 25 mins.

124 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 16:45 mins. Yisrael Katz, Israeli Minister of Intelligence speaking at the International Convention Center, Jerusalem.

125 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 20:35 mins

126 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 47:00 mins.

127 http://www.stopthejewhatredoncampus.org/news/images-freedom-center-posters-targeting-hamas-and-bds-supporters-fall-2016

128 From an article entitled “New campaign uses racist posters to target Palestinian campus activists by name” written by Wilson Dizard, published in Mondoweiss on October 27, 2016. https://mondoweiss.net/2016/10/campaign-palestinian-activists/

129 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 11:50 mins

130 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 5:30 mins

131 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 11:20 mins

132 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 7:55 mins

133 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 9:30 mins

134 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 12:40 mins

135 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 8:40 mins

136 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 12:00 mins

137 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 5:50 mins

138 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 17:30 mins.

139 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 4:25 mins and 4:35 mins.

140 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 41:20 mins

141 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 44:45 mins

142 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 19:25 mins.

143 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 18:40 mins.

144 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 20:20 mins.

145 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 20:00 mins.

146 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 20:35 mins.

147

“We have been ignored and disrespected year after year, but we have never been silenced. We are a beacon of peace and inclusion on a campus plagued by anti-Semitism… The intolerance that spawned this resolution is the same kind of intolerance that has spawned anti-Semitic movements throughout history.”

Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 21:10 mins.

148 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 22:10 mins.

149 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 24:20 mins.

150 From an op-ed entitled “My 15-Day Journey Confronting Divestment at UC Davis” written by Julia Reifkind, published by the Huffington Post on February 12, 2015. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/my-15day-journey-confront_b_6669890

151 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 32:40 mins

152 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 25:40 mins.

153 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 28:10 mins

154 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 30:20 mins

155 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 30:40 mins

156 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 31:05 mins

157 From an article entitled “UC Davis Community, ADL respond to hate-crime graffiti, written by Ryan Torok, published in the Jewish Journal on February 4, 2015. https://jewishjournal.com/news/nation/154873/

158 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 31:10 mins

159 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 41:55 mins and 43:45 mins

160 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 44:25 mins

161 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 33:10 mins

162 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 1: “The Covert War” from 33:30 mins

163 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 20:30 mins

164 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 21:30 mins

165 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 20:40 mins

166 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 20:55 mins

167 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 21:35 mins

168 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 22:00 mins

169 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 23:25 mins

170 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 24:35 mins

171 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 26:50 mins

172 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 24:50 mins

173 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 24:55 mins

174 http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/196406

175 From an article entitled “We Will Boycott the Boycotters” written by Yoni Kempinski, published in Arutz Sheva on June 9, 2015.  http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/196465#.VZtjehNVikp

176 IAC activities are funded by its board of directors, its members, and donors within the Israeli-American and the Pro-Israel American communities, including Sheldon and Miri Adelson, Haim and Cheryl Saban, Beny and Adele Alagem, Leo and Ruth David and David Wiener. In addition, the organization receives support from several Jewish-American foundations in the U.S.

From a report entitled “Israeli American Council Announces Major U.S. Expansion Plan” published by eJewishPhilanthropy.com on September 11, 2013. http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/israeli-american-council-announces-major-u-s-expansion-plan/

177 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 26:05 mins

178 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 27:15 mins

179 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 27:50 mins

180 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 47:50 mins

181 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 48:15 mins

182 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 3: “The Witch Hunt” from 4: 45 mins.

183 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 15:40 mins

184 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 14:55 mins

185 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 15:25 mins

186 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 17:25 mins

187 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 15:40 mins

188 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 15:55 mins

189 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 16:05 mins

190 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 16:55 mins

191 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 17:35 mins and 18:00 mins.

192 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 18:25 mins

193 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 20:35 mins

194 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 20:45 mins

195 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 21:15 mins

196 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 21:50 mins, 22:45 mins and 23:20 mins

197 https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/08/28/leaked-scenes-from-censored-documentary-expose-israel-lobbyist-noah-pollak-astroturfing-an-anti-palestinian-protest/

198 From an article entitled “Anti-Israel Hate Group Met With Protests” written by Brent Schler, published in the Washington Free Beacon on November 11, 2016. https://freebeacon.com/culture/anti-israel-hate-group-protests/

199 From an article entitled “Why Is George Mason U. Hosting Anti-Israel Activists Who Bully Students and Excuse Terror” written by Jessie Nejberger, published in The Tower on November 6, 2016. http://www.thetower.org/why-is-george-mason-u-hosting-anti-israel-activists-who-bully-students-and-excuse-terror/

200 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 3:20 mins and 3:45 mins

201 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 24:55 mins

202 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 26:25 mins, 26:40 mins and 27:15 mins

203 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 16:35 mins.

204 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 17:00 mins.

205 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 4: “Marketing Occupation” from 31:30 mins

206 Quote taken from The Lobby – USA, episode 2: “Managing Elites” from 22:30 mins.

2 Comments

Filed under did you see?, Israel, Palestine, USA

forget ‘Russiagate’, why is no-one talking about ‘Israelgate’…?

The following is an extract drawn from an article posted last February entitled “‘fake news’ is the new blackwhite” – a reference to newspeak jargon from Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ .

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‘Russiagate’ has dominated the US news cycle for well over eighteen months in spite of the fact that after several investigations there has been an embarrassing failure to uncover substantiating evidence pointing to an actual Russian plot to “hack the election” as was so vigorously claimed. But the latest twist in the saga is arguably the lamest to date. It involves Robert Mueller’s indictment of thirteen Russian nationals for purportedly creating sockpuppet accounts on behalf of Trump (or else disparaging him – presumably for added confusion!), as well as (still more bafflingly) bolstering the campaigns of progressives Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein in the 2016 election. Missing altogether are any claims that Trump knew anything at all about the alleged Russian meddling, or that in fact “Russia hacked the election” – the very pivot about which Russiagate started spinning. As even the Guardian admits in its wholly uncritical account of Mueller’s findings which is excitedly titled “Putin’s chef, a troll farm and Russia’s plot to hijack US democracy”:

The indictment does not allege that any American knowingly participated in Russian meddling, or that Trump campaign associates had more than “unwitting” contact with some who posed as Americans. Trump quickly claimed vindication, noting in a tweet that the interference efforts began in 2014 “long before I announced that I would run for president”. He added: “The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!”

Nor does it have anything to say regarding the origins of ‘Russiagate’:

The indictment does not mention the hacking of Democratic emails, which then turned up on WikiLeaks. It does not mention the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. It does not mention the four Trump associates who are facing charges that range from money laundering to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador. America, and the world, is waiting for Mueller to join the dots.1

The post continues:

In fact, both presidential candidates bent over backwards to secure the backing of AIPAC, the most formidable foreign lobby group in America, but that doesn’t count as meddling apparently.

Meanwhile, the bizarre claim that a handful of Russians threw the election process into confusion via social media platforms is an already laughably pathetic allegation, made worse for the simple fact that it is next to impossible to validate, since, as Mueller knows perfectly well, those named will never be extradited to face trial. And for what crime are they to be indicted exactly? For not being American citizens but writing about an US election without registering as a foreign agent. That’s certainly the precedent Muller is setting here. Moreover, the contention is not that this alleged ‘troll farm’ has been spreading falsehoods as such, but that they cunningly redeployed truth in order to deceive the ignorant masses.

Click here to read the full post.

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On August 13th, Jimmy Dore welcomed William Binney, NSA whistleblower and member of Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), to set the record straight about Guccifer 2.0 and Mueller’s indictments:

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Having trawled for evidence of “links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” as the Mueller investigation was tasked to do, it instead uncovered actual evidence of complicity with Israel. These uncomfortable revelations have since been swept under the carpet by the corporate media, but are discussed in detail elsewhere. For instance, as far back as last December Max Blumenthal was reporting for Alternet:

Seven months later, after three indictments that did little, if anything, to confirm the grand collusion narrative, Mueller had former National Security Council advisor Michael Flynn dragged before a federal court for lying to the FBI. The Russia probe had finally netted a big fish.

As the details of the Flynn indictment seeped out into the press, however, the bombshell was revealed as another dud. To the dismay of many Trump opponents, nothing in Flynn’s rap sheet demonstrated collusion with Russia. Instead, the indictment undermined the Russiagate narrative while implicating another, much more inconvenient foreign power in a plot to meddle in American politics.

Blumenthal continues:

To be sure, Flynn indictment did contain a stunning revelation of collusion between Team Trump and a foreign state. But it was not the country that the national media has obsessed over for the past year.

Flynn was found by the FBI to have lobbied [Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey] Kislyak to exercise Russia’s veto against the passage of a United Nations security council resolution condemning the growth of Israel’s illegal settlements. And he did so under orders from Jared Kushner, the presidential son-in-law and Middle East fixer, who was himself acting on behalf of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Thanks to Flynn’s indictment, we now know that the Israeli prime minister was able to transform the Trump administration into his own personal vehicle for undermining Obama’s lone effort to hold Israel accountable at the UN. A clearer example of a foreign power colluding with an American political operation against a sitting president has seldom, if ever, been exposed in such glaring fashion. 2

Click here to read Blumenthal’s full article entitled “Michael Flynn’s Indictment Exposes Trump Team’s Collusion With Israel, Not Russia”.

Around the same time, a journalistic investigation of Israeli meddling in American politics was also secretly hushed up. As a sequel to its damning report on the Israel Lobby’s activities in Britain, Al Jazeera’s Director of Investigative Journalism, Clayton Swisher, announced in October 2017 that the Qatari satellite channel had embedded a different undercover journalist (called “Tony”) inside the US Israel lobby:

Swisher made the announcement soon after the UK’s broadcast regulator dismissed all complaints against Al Jazeera’s film The Lobby.

That documentary, broadcast in January 2017, exposed Israel’s covert influence campaign in the UK’s ruling Conservative and opposition Labour parties. The film revealed an Israeli embassy agent plotting with a British civil servant to “take down” a government minister seen as too critical of Israel.

Although Swisher promised the US film would come out “very soon,” nearly five months later it has yet to be broadcast. 3

Click here to read more on the announcement at The Electronic Intifada.

The documentary was never broadcast. However, based on newly leaked footage from this banned documentary, The Electronic Intifada published a follow-up article last week [Sept 13th] that discloses the operation of (what should be called) ‘troll farms’ operating under the cover of “The Israel Project” (TIP) using sockpuppets to sway public opinion and disseminate propaganda on the social media platform Facebook:

The Israel Project, a major advocacy group based in Washington, is running a secret influence campaign on Facebook.

The video above, exclusive to The Electronic Intifada, shows the latest excerpts to leak from the documentary.

Earlier leaked footage published by The Electronic Intifada and the Grayzone Project has already revealed underhanded tactics by anti-Palestinian groups planned and executed in collusion with the Israeli government.

In the newest clips, David Hazony, the managing director of The Israel Project, is heard telling Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter: “There are also things that we do that are completely off the radar. We work together with a lot of other organizations.”

“We produce content that they then publish with their own name on it,” Hazony adds.

A major part of the operation is the creation of a network of Facebook “communities” focused on history, the environment, world affairs and feminism that appear to have no connection to pro-Israel advocacy, but are used by The Israel Project to spread pro-Israel messaging.

The same piece continues:

One of these Facebook pages, Cup of Jane, has almost half a million followers.

Cup of Jane’s “About” page describes it as being about “Sugar, spice and everything nice.”

But there is no disclosure that this is a page run for the purpose of promoting Israel.

The “About” page does identify Cup of Jane as being “a community launched by TIP’s Future Media Project in DC.”

There is however no direct and explicit mention of Israel or indication that “TIP” stands for The Israel Project.

The Electronic Intifada understands that even this vague acknowledgment of who is behind the page was only added after The Israel Project learned about the existence of the Al Jazeera undercover documentary and presumably anticipated being exposed.

The Israel Project also added an acknowledgment on its own website that it runs the Facebook pages. However its website is not linked from the Facebook pages themselves.

There is no evidence in the Internet Archive of the page existing before May 2017 – months after “Tony’s” cover was blown.

According to [former employee Jordan] Schachtel, The Israel Project is putting considerable resources into producing Cup of Jane and a network of similar pages.

“We have a team of like 13 people. We are working on a lot of videos, explainers,” he tells Tony in Al Jazeera’s documentary. “A lot of it is just random topics and then maybe like 25 percent of it would be like Israel or Jewish-based.”

“Cup of Jane” is just one of many such fake websites:

Other pages identified by the censored Al Jazeera documentary as run by The Israel Project include Soul Mama, History Bites, We Have Only One Earth and This Explains That.

Some have hundreds of thousands of followers.

History Bites does not reveal its affiliation with The Israel Project, not even with the vague formula used by Cup of Jane and the other pages.

History Bites simply describes itself as conveying “The awesome of History in bite-sized chewable pieces!”

That page re-posted Cup of Jane posts presenting Golda Meir, the Israeli prime minister who implemented racist and violent policies against indigenous Palestinians, and viewed Palestinian women giving birth as an existential threat, as a feminist hero.

A 2016 This Explains That video spreads false Israeli claims that the UN cultural agency UNESCO “erased” Jewish and Christian reverence for holy sites in Jerusalem.

History Bites reposted the video last December stating that it “seems to support President Trump’s declaration today that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state of Israel.”

The video has received almost five million views.

Another video posted by History Bites attempts to justify Israel’s June 1967 surprise attack on Egypt, launching the war in which Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights.

The video describes Israel’s military occupation of East Jerusalem as the city being “reunified” and “liberated.”

There is a great deal more detail in the article and I strongly encourage readers to read the piece in its entirety. It concludes where my own post begins – making a parallel reference to the furore surrounding the equivalent Russiagate allegations:

Since the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook has been accused of allowing its platform to be used for manipulative Russian-sponsored propaganda aimed at influencing politics and public opinion.

Despite the hype, these allegations have been grossly overblown or unsubstantiated.

Nevertheless, Facebook has partnered with the Atlantic Council in an effort to ostensibly crack down on “fake accounts” and “disinformation.”

The Atlantic Council is a Washington think tank that has been funded by NATO, the US military, the brutally repressive governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, European Union governments, and a who’s who of investment firms, oil companies, arms makers and other war profiteers.

As the apparent result of this partnership, a number of completely innocuous social media accounts with few or no followers were recently taken down.

More worryingly, pages run by leftist news outlets focusing on countries targeted by the US government, such as Venezuela Analysis and teleSUR, were suspended, though later restored.

Now with solid evidence of The Israel Project’s well-resourced and extensive influence campaign on Facebook, it remains to be seen if the social media giant will act to ensure that unwitting users are aware that what they are being exposed to is propaganda designed to boost and whitewash the Israeli state.

In response to a request for comment, a Facebook spokesperson told The Electronic Intifada the company would look into the matter. 4

Why is no-one talking about ‘Israelgate’? The question in the title to this post is rhetorical, of course, but we might easily answer it anyway. Russiagate was the cover story for why the Clinton campaign bombed so badly and then afterwards successfully reworked into the pretext to close down “fake news” websites. Talking about Israelgate on the other hand… what would that achieve?

Click here to read the full article entitled “Censored film reveals The Israel Project’s secret Facebook campaign.

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On Monday 10th, The Real News interviewed Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal about why Qatar bowed down to American pressure to censor the documentary. In particular they speak about leaked clips that show how the Israeli government was behind attacks on American pro-Palestinian activists and Black Lives Matter:

Ali Abunimah: We published on August 27th, the first leaked video from the film in which an official of The Israel Project names Adam Milstein, a pro-Israel financier based in California – real estate magnate who spent time in federal prison for tax evasion. In the film, Milstein is named as the funder of ‘Canary Mission’ [a blacklist for pro-Palestine activists] and for years now people have been trying to find out who is behind ‘Canary Mission’ other than a few snippets of information which came out this appears to be first major break in cracking who is behind this.

And what it also shows is that ‘Canary Mission’ is part of a much bigger effort, effectively orchestrated by the Israeli government, in which groups like the ‘Israel on Campus Coalition’ and ‘The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ are acting as agents, or front groups, for the Israeli government, helping it to gather information on US citizens; to harass US citizens; and other activities – without being registered as foreign agents of the State of Israel. So this really I think explains why the Israel lobby put such intense pressure on Qatar and on Al Jazeera to censor the film. Because I think it reveals a lot of activity that they don’t want revealed.

And what’s ironic is that this film contains real evidence of foreign interference in American politics [and] in American civic life by a foreign state: orchestrated, funded and directed by a foreign state and it’s got no attention. The censorship has gotten very little attention in the mainstream media. Meanwhile, as you know very well, the mainstream media and mainstream politicians continue to chase the shadows of ‘Russiagate’ and Russian interference, which until now have proven to be just shadows, as opposed to this really powerful evidence of Israeli interference.

[from 1:55 mins]

Max Blumenthal: Well, Noah Pollak [Executive Director of the ‘Emergency Committee for Israel’] is part of the crew that Ali describes as essentially unregistered agents – Adam Milstein, Jacob Baime of the ‘Israel on Campus Coalition’ – that are effectively surveilling and attacking American students on behalf of the Israeli government. These are Likudnik operatives: figures who align with the ring wing in Israel, who are substantially funded by Milstein as well as Sheldon Adelson who is one of the largest donors to both Donald Trump and to the political empire of Benjamin Netanyahu.

And we reported based on leaked content from the censored Al Jazeera “Lobby USA” documentary that Noah Pollak had essentially been astroturfing a protest against a 2016 gathering of the ‘National Students for Justice in Palestine’ conference. It was in DC and basically Pollak went to the Hudson Institute, which is a pro-Israel think tank with very close ties of its own to the Israeli government, and said you know send us some of your campus fellows – basically like youth fellows – and they’re going to protest for us.

And the undercover reporter for Al Jazeera, James Kleinfeld, gets on the bus to this protest – he was interning for The Israel Project, another affiliated pro-Israel lobby group – and covertly films all of these young people, who are young conservative activists, saying we don’t really have any interest in going to yell at Arabs and that’s what we’ve been told to do: go shout at Arabs. And they’re driving around in a bus and getting lost and asking people “where are the Jihadis? We’ve just been told to go yell at Jihadis.” So you can see kind of the racism and Islamophobia behind the whole operation. But at the same time they’re saying basically we’re being forced to do this. We get paid like $50,000 a year as part of this fellowship and this is what we have to do – we’re selling our souls.

So it’s kind of amusing but at the same time you see how the Israel lobby operates. It essentially has to pay fake protesters because it has no grassroots support.

Then these campus fellows from this right-wing think tank show up at the conference where there are hundreds of young people, students who are organically drawn to Palestine solidarity activism [and] don’t have to be paid to be there. They themselves are paying their own way. And these fake protesters start shouting Islamophobic insults at them. Noah Pollak is screaming about child suicide bombers at young women and men, who are mostly students from immigrant backgrounds. So I thought it was a really scandalous scene and I chose to reveal at the Greyzone Project along with a more recent report that shows the phenomenon that Ali described which is the Israeli government actually coordinating directly attacks on American progressive social movements, which should be scandalous. If Russia was doing it, you know, you’d have the New York Times and Washington Post freaking out but in this case it’s silence.

I mean [the report] should have been explosive… if the FBI had been exposed for recruiting black establishment leadership to attack the Black Lives Matter movement and undermining Black Lives Matter events, you know, how much outrage would there be? Probably a lot but in this case all we’ve done is expose a foreign government – the apartheid government of Israel – for doing exactly the same and there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of outrage. The suppressed, censored Al Jazeera “Lobby” documentary shows scenes from a pro-Israel conference where a group of Israeli diplomats are essentially boasting about having recruited former civil rights leaders and established black activists as proxies to denounce Black Lives Matter as antisemitic. This was right after the movement for black lives had introduced its platform supporting BDS, denouncing Israel as an apartheid state, and accusing it of committing genocide against the Palestinian people. So there was a big priority not just for the Israel lobby but the Israeli government to undermine Black Lives Matter. And they not only claimed responsibility for op-eds in the Huffington Post by black civil rights leaders and in other publications attacking Black Lives Matter as anti-Semitic. […]

Then you have Eric Gallagher, who is the Director of development [of The Israel Project] who was filmed covertly by the undercover Al Jazeera reporter, James Kleinfeld, boasting of how The Israel Project had gotten a Black Lives Matter event cancelled – a fundraiser cancelled – in New York, right after it released its platform, basically by calling donors and then having them call a nightclub that they were affiliated with and the nightclub put the kibosh on the event. So all this goes back to the phenomenon that Ali described, which is the Israeli government interfering, not just in American politics, but in American life. Surveilling Americans and covertly undermining American progressive social movements that are dedicated to advocating for the equality of some of the most oppressed groups in the country.

[from 4:45 mins]

The transcript is my own.

*

1 From an article entitled “Putin’s chef, a troll farm and Russia’s plot to hijack US democracy” written by David Smith, published in the Guardian on February 17, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/17/putins-chef-a-troll-farm-and-russias-plot-to-hijack-us-democracy

2 From an article entitled “Michael Flynn’s Indictment Exposes Trump Team’s Collusion With Israel, Not Russia” written by Max Blumenthal, published in Alternet on Decmeber 5, 2017. https://www.alternet.org/grayzone-project/flynn-indictment-exposes-collusion-israel

3 From an article entitled “What’s in Al Jazeera’s undercover film on US Israel lobby?” written by Asa Winstanley, published in The Electronic Intifada on March 5, 2018. https://electronicintifada.net/content/whats-al-jazeeras-undercover-film-us-israel-lobby/23496

4 From an article entitled “Censored film reveals The Israel Project’s secret Facebook campaign” written by Ali Abunimah and Asa Winstanley, published by The Electronic Intifada on September 13, 2018. https://electronicintifada.net/content/censored-film-reveals-israel-projects-secret-facebook-campaign/25486

1 Comment

Filed under internet freedom, Israel, USA

the pro-Israel two-pronged offensive: Tommy Robinson and the weaponisation of ‘antisemitism’

There have been two concurrent stories running for weeks on end. On the one hand, the corporate media repeatedly reinforces its own opinion – based on a blatant smear campaign conceived and perpetuated by political enemies – that Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemitic apologist of a rabidly antisemitic party (of which I am a member), whilst on the other, it offers a platform to far-right EDL founder Tommy Robinson who they portray as a merely “controversial leader” of a popular movement. In fact, BBC news and Channel 4 were both caught red-handed by Twitter activist Sonia Mota who helpfully uploaded the evidence of how the news channels presented each of these two stories literally side-by-side:

The first clip (now hidden because it “might contain sensitive content”) begins with BBC correspondent Norman Smith informing the audience that Corbyn ought to immediately accept the international definitions of antisemitism (more later) before feigning puzzlement that “for whatever reason Mr Corbyn at the moment is holding back” from such acquiescence. In the following report, correspondent Tom Burridge then speaks about Tommy Robinson’s release from prison on bail which opens with an unopposed statement by one of Robinson’s supporters and concludes “Robinson is a product of the internet age, sites like Youtube allow the founder of the English Defence League to reach many more people than far-right leaders of the past”. In other words, don’t blame us for promoting him again and again, blame the internet…

Sky News is arguably worse. It begins with correspondent Jason Farrell gushing on and on about how: “Robinson has garnered a huge amount of support – hundreds of thousands of people providing a petition, they’ve had a free Tommy website, and some people may question why we are talking about this – should we be giving him the oxygen of publicity in discussing this issue… but the fact is it would be ridiculous not to because there has been so much discussed about this on social media – he has hundreds of thousands of followers and in some ways that is beneficial to him as a political character, he has actually gained an awful lot of support over this period and this will be an interesting time for him as to what he does with this – this former EDL member who doesn’t have a political party at the moment, he may well want to use that to his advantage in the future. So we’ll see what he does when he comes out [of prison].” This upbeat promo is then juxtaposed by newscaster Gamal Fahnbulleh intoning with grave seriousness that Corbyn’s latest apology “adds more pressure on the leader who’s repeatedly been accused of not doing enough to stamp out antisemitism within the party”, and to hammer the point, a second Sky News correspondent aggressively doorsteps Corbyn, shouting after him: “Are relations between the Labour leadership and the British Jewish community broken beyond repair?”

There are so many points here that it’s hard to know where to start, but the main point I wish to make is that any notion of a single British Jewish community that is unanimous in its condemnation of Corbyn is already a complete media construction. There are multiple Jewish voices and a great many have gone to considerable lengths to speak in support of Jeremy Corbyn, however the corporate media has its own agenda and takes trouble to marginalise all voices that oppose it.

As one of Jewish Voices for Labour (JVL) founder members, Richard Kuper, told Afshin Rattansi on RT’s Going Underground on July 27th:

The Jewish community does not speak with one voice. The Jewish community has never done so. And it is important that diversity and plurality within the Jewish community are recognised and encouraged. We would argue that we speak firmly within the Jewish humanitarian, internationalist tradition and that we are basing ourselves on Jewish values: respect for the other; respect for all religions; egalitarianism; and not making the kinds of legal distinctions between citizens which is now occurring in Israel. This is not acceptable democratic practice. If Israel wishes to be called a liberal democracy, it has to abide by liberal democratic values. If it wants to be a nationalist autocracy it can continue on the line it is going on.

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Jeremy Corbyn is “a dedicated anti-racist”

“This [is a] grotesque, cynical, contrived, fake, fabricated attack on Corbyn by the whole, the whole of the British ruling elites, and the whole of the British media” — Norman Finkelstein 1

The video embedded above is an update. It features Norman Finkelstein speaking directly to camera and calling for Dame Margaret Hodge to be expelled from the Labour Party.

*

Jeremy Corbyn is not a racist. He is a staunch opponent of all forms of racism, and has been consistently throughout his entire political life. Indeed, when back on July 25th, the Jewish News, the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish Telegraph jointly published a front-page editorial that scurrilously and absurdly accused him of being an “existential threat” to British Jews, one of their own contributors, Stephen Oryszczuk, foreign editor of Jewish News , broke ranks and said in an exclusive Q&A with The Canary published on Monday 6th, August:

“It’s repulsive. This is a dedicated anti-racist we’re trashing. I just don’t buy into it at all.” 2

I highlight Stephen Oryszczuk because he bravely took a stand against his own newspaper, but still he is one of a multitude of Jewish voices who have very actively defended Jeremy Corbyn.

As Richard Kuper of Jewish Voices for Labour (JVL) told Afshin Rattansi in the July 27th interview on RT’s Going Underground:

“Jeremy is not and has never been an antisemite or a racist. It is absurd for Margaret Hodge to make this accusation, and to make an accusation in that form, whether or not with the expletive deleted, should not be unacceptable behaviour. And she should apologise: that is not the way in which we conduct debates in the Labour Party. […]

Anti-semitism in our view is hostility to Jews as Jews and it needs to be opposed. Criticism of Israel is criticism of Israel and unless it shows hostility to Jews as Jews it is political criticism and argument and has to be fought on that basis. […]

I hope that Jeremy will continue to be Jeremy and stand up for what he believes in and speak openly and honestly and pursue the values he has always stood up for: internationalist values egalitarian values, and most of all, anti-racist values. Standing up to all forms of racism including anti-semitism.”

To hear other Jewish voices in defence of Corbyn I refer readers to the addendum below as well as to earlier posts on the subject here and here. I have also embedded below two excellent recent broadcasts of The Real News from August 11th featuring interviews with American-Jewish scholar Norman Finkelstein and British academic Jamie Stern-Weiner:

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As comedian Mark Steel put it in The Independent on Thursday 2nd August:

You can’t help wondering whether, for some people, the motivation for accusing Corbyn of being an antisemite may be a teeny bit driven by the fact they don’t really like him.

For example, Ian McKenzie, who was chairman of Lewisham East Labour Party, wrote on Twitter that “the antisemitism, Brexit and Salisbury stuff is cutting through like the IRA/Iran stuff didn’t. We have a real chance of winning back NEC seats.”

So for him, a subject as important as antisemitism is apparently a handy tool to win back NEC seats from Corbyn supporters. That could be seen as slightly insulting to Jews, so I’m sure when it comes to expulsions, Ian McKenzie will insist he should be one of the first to be kicked out. Maybe he’ll make a complaint: “Corbyn is so slow to deal with antisemitism that he still hasn’t expelled me. If he was serious about tackling antisemitism he’d have told me to piss off ages ago, but no. Typical!” 3

Click here to read the complete article entitled “The fact that Corbyn didn’t yell abuse at a Holocaust survivor definitely makes him anti-Semitic”

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The weaponisation of ‘antisemitism’

Ongoing accusations that a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government would present an existential threat to the future of Jewish people is one obvious example of how misplaced accusations of anti-Semitism are being used as a weapon by critics of Corbyn.

One conservative Jewish organization that has weaponised anti-Semitism in just this way is the Community Security Trust, a charity that describes its role as being to “protect[ing] British Jews from antisemitism and related threats”; and “To speak responsibly at all times, without exaggeration or political favour, on antisemitism and associated issues.”

But a recent press release from the Community Security Trust suggests that they have a problem with speaking responsibly, as they write:

“The reason Labour’s antisemitism problem dwarfs all of its other racism problems is because it originates from the far-left culture that Jeremy Corbyn and his closest advisers and supporters have always belonged to. That culture now dominates the party.” (“Antisemitism now: the IHRA controversy,” July 24, 2018)

This is not true and they know it!

In fact, it was only last September that the Community Security Trust helped fund a research report carried out by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research that put the lie to their latest press release.

The report in question, Antisemitism in Contemporary Great Britain: A study of attitudes towards Jews and Israel, was clear:

“Looking at the political spectrum of British society, the most antisemitic group consists of those who identify as very right-wing. In this group about 14% hold hard-core anti-Semitic attitudes and 52% hold at least one attitude, compared again to 3.6% and 30% in the general population. The very left-wing, and, in fact, all political groups located on the left, are no more antisemitic than the general population. This finding may come as a surprise to those who maintain that in today’s political reality, the left is the more serious, or at least, an equally serious source of antisemitism, than the right.” (p.64)

Then, in attempting to explain why there is the false perception among some parts of the Jewish community that the left has an issue with antisemitism, they explain:

“The left tends to see itself, and is commonly regarded, as an anti-racist and egalitarian political group, both in terms of its political goals and its modus operandi. This image tends to impact on people’s expectations of the left or, at the very least, draws attention to how well (or otherwise) it performs in relation to its own proclaimed values. We found that the left (including the far-left) is no less antisemitic than the general population. This is not a trivial finding, as it runs counter to the left’s self-proclaimed ethos. When the expectation is to find less antisemitism than elsewhere, the finding of ‘just the same’ level of antisemitism as elsewhere is likely to be noticed by politically attuned individuals. Simultaneously embarrassing the left and being used as a weapon by it critics, this dissonance becomes the centre of attention and gets accentuated.” [My highlights, pp.64-5]

Wouldn’t it be useful if Jon Lansman, and other self-identified Corbyn supporters, raised such issues when attacked on television? 4

Click here to read the same piece by Michael Barker published in Counterpunch.

In short, the Labour Party that Corbyn leads is not a deeply antisemitic party, but accusations of “antisemitism” are handy for “Simultaneously embarrassing the left and being used as a weapon by its critics”. This according to a statement by the Community Security Trust, which is a conservative Jewish organisation that has attacked Labour in precisely this way by falsely claiming “Labour’s antisemitism problem dwarfs all of its other racism problems” and that it exists as a “culture [that] now dominates the party.”

But then, accusations of this kind are frankly bizarre given how Ed Miliband, the Labour leader succeeded by Corbyn little more than three years ago, is the son of immigrants of Polish Jewish extraction who fled to Britain to escape the Nazis. What sort of an antisemitic party would have voted in a Jewish leader? In any case, during the period when Ed Miliband was Labour leader, the antisemitic smears came in the form of snide dog-whistle comment and from the establishment right, not from Labour members. Have we forgotten how the Daily Mail smeared his father, Ralph Miliband, branding him “the man who hated Britain”?

Moreover, Jon Lansman, who founded the pro-Corbyn movement Momentum – roundly attacked by the same establishment right, anti-Corbyn media as a Trotskyite fifth column – was brought up in an Orthodox Jewish family. So if we are led to believe that it is the newcomers to Labour who are especially antisemitic, then why are they also happy to get behind a man who passed through bar mitzvah and had previously seen himself as a Zionist?

The following is taken from an article entitled “Ex-kibbutznik who is Corbyn’s left-hand man” published in the Jewish Chronicle back in January 2016:

Mr Lansman is the founder of the controversial “Corbynista” pressure group, Momentum, which was set up to capture and retain the grassroots enthusiasm sparked by Mr Corbyn’s campaign, but whose opponents fear will purge the party of moderates. It is becoming, they say, a “party within a party”. […]

Brought up in a “typical Orthodox family” in Southgate, north London, Mr Lansman first went to Israel aged 16 just after the Yom Kippur War to visit an aunt who had made aliyah.

“I worked on a kibbutz in the Negev and my aunt lived in Beersheva. It was actually a very politicising experience. When I did my barmitzvah I saw myself as a Zionist and I think after I went there I felt it less.

“I was more interested in the kibbutz and what I liked about it was the pioneering spirit, the sense of community and radicalism of it.”

Interestingly, in the same article, Lansman is quoted saying:

“I have Zionist friends in the party. Jeremy supports the existence of Israel, he wants peace and co-existence. Why should Israel supporters not have a place in Labour? Of course they should. I’ve been arguing for two states long before it was acceptable within the Jewish community to argue for two states.

“I remember arguing with my great-aunt when I was 13 that there were Palestinians and they should have a homeland.

“What we are saying will strike a chord with people in the community and we absolutely need to mend and build bridges. For me it is a priority and that is why I am talking to the JC.

“Yes, of course the vast majority of British Jews are supportive of Israel as a Jewish state – and actually so is Jeremy – but they are far from supportive of all aspects of what is currently happening there. The Labour Party has to be concerned with a broad view, and the pursuit of peace.

“I don’t think you can fault Jeremy on his concern for peace. He is not a warmonger, he doesn’t want killing and death.” 5

But none of this matters, of course, because the relentless assault on Corbyn and the Labour Party has nothing to do with real concerns about actual antisemitism. Rather it serves two overlapping interests: those of the Blairites who remain intent on stalling all Corbyn’s efforts to democratise the party and reclaim it as a genuinely populist political movement, and those of the Israel lobby which seeks to deflect attention away from Israel’s apartheid state and its crimes against the Palestinians, and attacks Corbyn for his pro-Palestinian stance.

About eighteen months ago, the Israel lobby was in fact caught meddling in our political system to these ends and this is a topic I have already covered at length. The evidence was disclosed in a major four-part Al Jazeera investigation entitled simply “The Lobby”.

As I wrote then:

The [Al Jazeera] investigation came to wider public attention following the release of shocking footage of “Israeli diplomat” Shai Masot speculating about how to “take down” Deputy Foreign Minister, Sir Alan Duncan, and other senior politicians less than “solid on Israel”. After the story broke, the press were of course compelled to report on it: it was impossible to ignore such serious allegations that a foreign power was trying to subvert Britain’s democracy. Yet reaction both from the media and the government has been remarkably tepid since. There have been no sustained investigations and we see no push for an official inquiry – this in defiance of Labour demands that the government launch an immediate inquiry into what it rightly calls “a national security issue”:

As shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, said in The Commons:

“The exposure of an Israeli embassy official discussing how to bring down or discredit a government minister and other MPs because of their views on the Middle East is extremely disturbing.”

Instead, however, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) promptly issued a statement:

“The Israeli Ambassador has apologized and is clear these comments do not reflect the views of the embassy or government of Israel.  The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.”

To which Thornberry in turn responded:

“It is simply not good enough for the Foreign Office to say the matter is closed. This is a national security issue.”

The altogether miserly extent and scope of British media coverage of a plot to subvert our democracy can be usefully measured against the unlimited column inches and headline space given over to unfounded allegations of Russian hacking of the DNC in America. But no less importantly, the plot against Tory ministers occupies a mere ten minutes of one episode of what in full amounts to two hours over four parts of broadcast material. The revelation is damning in the extreme but it should not have been allowed to totally overshadow the real focus of the documentary: a dirty tricks campaign against pro-Palestinian Labour party members and other efforts to subvert the party’s elected leader, Jeremy Corbyn. This chicanery against Corbyn in the interests of a foreign power is something the media has helped to bury.

In the second episode (all four episodes of “The Lobby” are embedded in the previous post with link below), undercover reporter ‘Robin’ follows Shai Masot to the Labour Party Conference held in Liverpool where he is introduced to Joan Ryan at the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) stall. It is here when Masot tells Ryan that he has secured the approval for funds of “more than one million pounds… from Israel”. A million pounds to ply the backing of anti-Corbyn Labour MPs. 6

Click here to read the full post entitled “Shai Masot, the Israel lobby, and its part in the ongoing coup against Jeremy Corbyn”.

The latest move by the Israel lobby is to force the Labour Party to adopt the four additional working “examples” of anti-Semitism drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). It is a McCarthyite initiative which, as independent journalist Jonathan Cook explains in his latest article, will result in “Labour activists find[ing] themselves, like Corbyn, either outed or required to out others as supposed anti-semites”:

Looking at my own work, it is clear that almost all of it falls foul of two further “examples” of anti-semitism cited in the full IHRA definition that Labour is preparing to adopt:

“Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

and:

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

One hardly needs to point out how preposterous it is that the Labour party is about to outlaw from internal discussion or review any research, scholarship or journalism that violates these two “examples” weeks after Israel passed its Nation-State Basic Law. That law, which has constitutional weight, makes explict what was always implict in Israel as a Jewish state:

  1. that Israel privileges the rights and status of Jews around the world, including those who have never even visited Israel, above the rights of the fifth of the country’s citizens who are non-Jews (the remnants of the native Palestinian population who survived the ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948).
  2. that Israel, as defined in the Basic Law, is not a state bounded by internationally recognised borders but rather the “Land of Israel” – a Biblical conception of Israel whose borders encompass the occupied Palestinian territories and parts of many neighbouring states.

How, one might reasonably wonder, is such a state – defined this way in the Basic Law – a normal “democratic” state? How is it not structurally racist and inherently acquisitive of other people’s territory?

Contrary to the demands of these two extra IHRA “examples”, the Basic Law alone shows that Israel is a “racist endeavour” and that we cannot judge it by the same standards we would a normal western-style democracy. Not least, it has a double “border” problem: it forces Jews everywhere to be included in its self-definition of the “nation”, whether they want to be or not; and it lays claim to the title deeds of other territories without any intention to confer on their non-Jewish inhabitants the rights it accords Jews.

Demanding that we treat Israel as a normal western-style liberal democracy – as the IHRA full definition requires – makes as much sense as having demanded the same for apartheid South Africa back in the 1980s.

Entitled “Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail by Design”, Cook concludes the same piece:

The Labour party has become the largest in Europe as Corbyn has attracted huge numbers of newcomers into the membership, inspired by a new kind of politics. That is a terrifying development for the old politics, which preferred tiny political cliques accountable chiefly to corporate donors, leaving a slightly wider circle of activists largely powerless.

That is why the Blairite holdouts in the party bureaucracy are quite content to use any pretext not only to root out genuine progressive activists drawn to a Corbyn-led party, including anti-Zionist Jewish activists, but to alienate tens of thousands more members that had begun to transform Labour into a grassroots movement.

A party endlessly obsessing about anti-semitism, a party that has abandoned the Palestinians, a party that has begun throwing out key progressive principles, a party that has renounced free speech, and a party that no longer puts the interests of the poor and vulnerable at the centre of its concerns is a party that will fail.

That is where the anti-semitism “crisis” is leading Labour – precisely as it was designed to do. 7

I strongly encourage readers to click on the link to read Jonathan Cook’s full article.

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Israel’s ethnic nationalism

Another of Jonathan Cook’s articles that doubtless “falls foul… of anti-semitism cited in the full IHRA definition that Labour is preparing to adopt” was an excellent extended article entitled “How Israel helped to revive Europe’s ugly ethnic nationalisms” that he published back in July. By quoting it at length, I must be found guilty of the same charge.

Beginning from an historical perspective, Cook writes:

Its founding ideology, Zionism, was deeply opposed to civic nationalism and attendant ideas of a common political identity. Rather, it was a tribal ideology – one based on blood ties and religious heritage – that spoke the same language as Europe’s earlier ethnic nationalisms. It agreed with the racists of Europe that “the Jews” could not be assimilated or integrated because they were a people apart.

It was this shared ground with the ethnic nationalists that made the Zionist movement deeply unpopular among the vast majority of European Jews until the rise of Hitler in the 1930s. After the horrors of the Nazis, however, growing numbers of Jews concluded that, if you could not beat the ethnic nationalists, it was better to join them. A highly militarised, nuclear-armed Israel – sponsored by Europe and belligerent towards its new, relatively weak Arab neighbours – appeared the best solution available.

It is that shared ground that today makes Israel an ally and friend to Trump and his political constituency in the US and to Europe’s far-right parties.

In fact, Israel is revered by a new breed of white supremacists and anti-semites in the US known as the alt-right. Their leader, Richard Spencer, has termed himself a “white Zionist”, saying he wants the US to become a “secure homeland” to prevent “the demographic dispossession of white people in the United States and around the world” in the same way Israel achieved for Jews.

He then discusses how Israel’s dominant strand of ethnic nationalism leads to structural racism and an apartheid state:

In a handbook for further dispossession known as the King’s Torah, influential settler rabbis have justified the pre-emptive killing of Palestinians as terrorists, and their babies as “future terrorists”. This worldview explains why settlers massed outside a court in Israel last month taunting a Palestinian, Hussein Dawabshe, whose 18-month-old grandson, Ali, was among family members burnt alive by settlers in 2015. As the grandfather arrived, the settlers jeered “Where is Ali, Ali’s dead” and “Ali’s on the grill.”

Even more common, to the extent that it passes almost unnoticed in Israel, is the structural racism that keeps the fifth of the population belonging to a Palestinian minority apart from the Jewish majority. For decades, for example, Israeli hospitals have been separating women in maternity wards based on their ethnicity.  Last month, in a familiar pattern, it was revealed that a municipal swimming pool in the Negev was quietly segregating Jewish and Palestinian bathers – all citizens of the same state – by offering different hours.

At least the pool accepted Palestinian citizens. Almost all communities in Israel are segregated, with many hundreds using admissions committees to ensure they bar Palestinian citizens and remain exclusively Jewish.

There have been weeks of angry protests among Jewish residents of the northern city of Afula, after the first Palestinian family managed to buy a home in a neighbourhood. Deputy mayor Shlomo Malihi observed: “I hope that the house sale will be cancelled so that this city won’t begin to be mixed.”

He also confronts the fact that fears of racial contamination now straddle the old left-right divisions in Israel:

Last month Miki Zohar, a legislator in the ruling Likud party, observed not only that there is a “Jewish race”, but that it represents “the highest human capital, the smartest, the most comprehending”.

At the same time, the government’s education minister, Naftali Bennett, noted that the future of the Jewish people in countries like the US kept him awake at night. “If we don’t act urgently, we’re going to be losing millions of Jews to assimilation,” he told a conference in Jerusalem.

This is a common refrain on the Israeli left too. Isaac Herzog, the former leader of the supposedly socialist Labour party and the new chair of the Jewish Agency, shares Bennett’s tribal impulse. Last month he warned that Jews outside Israel were falling victim to a “plague” of intermarriage with non-Jews. He bewailed that on a visit to the US last year: “I saw the children of my friends marrying or living with non-Jewish partners”. He concluded: “We have to rack our brains over how to solve this great challenge.” 8

Today Israel leads the way in ethnic politics, and is not fussy when it comes to choosing bedfellows. I have no time for billionaire George Soros (as you can read in earlier posts) who is once again meddling in Britain’s politics (this time seeking to overturn the result of the Brexit referendum), but I do not accuse him, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán does, of trying to undermine the soul of European Christian society. But then, as Cook points out, Orbán has no qualms about inflaming racial tensions or evoking figures from Hungary’s recent fascist past:

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, is among the new brand of eastern European leader brazenly stoking an ethnic politics at home through anti-semitism. He has targeted the Hungarian Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros for promoting a civic nationalism, suggesting Soros represents a wider Jewish threat to Hungary. Under a recent law, popularly known as “STOP Soros”, anyone helping migrants enter Hungary risks a prison sentence. Orban has lauded Miklos Horthy, a long-time Hungarian leader who was a close ally of Hitler’s.

Nonetheless, Orban is being feted by Benjamin Netanyahu, in the same way the Israeli prime minister has closely identified with Trump. Netanyahu called to congratulate Orban shortly after he was re-elected in April, and will welcome him in a state visit this month. Ultimately, Netanyahu is angling to host the next meeting of the Visegrad group, four central European countries in the grip of far-right ethnic politics Israel wishes to develop closer ties with.

Click here to read Jonathan Cook’s complete article entitled “How Israel helped to revive Europe’s ugly ethnic nationalisms”.

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On July 18th, The Real News interviewed Moshé Machover, a Jewish member of the Labour Party who was expelled and soon after reinstated, who said:

“For those various parts of the Israel lobby and the conservative establishment inside and outside the [Labour] Party, the main point is to ringfence Israel and Zionist project of colonisation against criticism. They are not really interested in antisemitism per se. This is not why they have made all this immense public campaign, part of which is driven from Israel via the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, so called. They are not really interested in antisemitism, for example, they don’t argue with Israel’s relations with the most antisemitic regimes in Europe. At the moment, I think while we are speaking, [Viktor] Orbán, the antisemitic Prime Minister of Hungary, is visiting Israel on very friendly terms. They don’t criticise this… They are interested in using or abusing accusations of antisemitism only to ringfence Israel and its project of colonisation.”

[from 8:25 mins]

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Tommy Robinson is a fascist

Tommy Robinson is a racist and a fascist. A former member of the British National Party (BNP), he afterwards founded the ultra-right English Defence League (EDL) which he led from 2009 to 2013 before becoming involved with the formation of a British chapter of the German neo-Nazi group Pegida. The pseudonymous ‘Tommy’ is actually a petty criminal who was previously jailed for mortgage fraud, and a thug who once beat up an off-duty policeman who tried to intervene in a domestic dispute with his then-girlfriend (current wife) Jenna Vowles. A common criminal and a conman, ‘Tommy’s real name seems to be Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon although even this is uncertain because he has previously travelled on false passports under names including Andrew McMaster and Paul Harris.

Oddly for a racist, and especially such a close associate of the fascist group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida), whose founder ex-professional footballer and ex-convict Lutz Bachman looks like this…

His idea of a joke by the way

… Robinson says he is “a friend of the Jews” and has repeatedly proclaimed himself a Zionist. As he told Sandy Rashty in an interview for the Jewish Chronicle in March 2015:

“If Israel falls, we all fall in this battle for freedom, liberty and democracy. English people see it as their fight as well. The Islamists say, ‘Saturday come first, then come Sunday’ – the Jews first, then the Christians.

“The media would have us believe that everyone in this country hates Israel, that Israel is this big monster.

“That comes from this whole left-wing mindset, this whole victim thing with Palestine which is inbred into students at university. It’s not inbred into anyone I know – white working-class people.”

And if you wonder why the Jewish Chronicle “would give a racist a platform” as apparently others in the JC newsroom did, then the reason says Rashty is that:

Well, Robinson has apparently adopted the Jewish cause – whether or not his support is wanted. He has held up Israeli flags at EDL rallies; he has worn an “I am a Zionist” badge and he has condemned the rise in UK antisemitism. 9

As I have pointed out previously, Robinson and his EDL represent the re-emergence of a dangerous strain of ‘postmodern’ fascism that principally cloaks its own bigotry by saying it acts against the “religious intolerance” of Islam. In its current form the new fascism finds common ground with the far-right of Israel and so commits itself (for now) to “condemn[ing] the rise in UK antisemitism.” And some ‘friends of Israel’, as we shall see, are happy enough to sup with the devil.

Click here to read further thoughts on Tommy Robinson and the fascist abandonment of the old-style politics of race in favour of the politics of “religious intolerance”.

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Update:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likes to accuse critics of Israel of being anti-Semites. But how does he explain his own glaring ties to anti-Semitic world leaders and Evangelical preachers, not to mention his defense of Adolf Hitler and his son’s attack on George Soros? Does defending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands make you immune from the charge of anti-Jewish hatred? In this video [uploaded on August 23rd], Mehdi Hasan asks whether the prime minister of Israel is part of the solution to rising anti-Semitism — or part of the problem:

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‘Robinson’ and the Alt-Right friends of Israel

‘Tommy Robinson’ isn’t just any old racist or any old fascist; his brand has powerful backers. Surprisingly, the best mainstream exposé I have come across so far is an extended article recently published by the Daily Mail. I encourage readers to follow the link below, since here is only a brief if relevant extract:

When it comes to the ‘monetising’ of the Robinson ‘brand’, appeals to individuals are only part of the picture, however.

For behind the scenes, an opaque and controversial network of U.S. billionaires and far-Right lobby groups are also funnelling cash his way.

Legal fees for the recent court case, for example, in which he instructed a high-profile QC, are being covered by the Middle East Forum, a controversial think-tank based in Philadelphia.

The Forum has previously bankrolled Geert Wilders, a Dutch parliamentarian once banned from the UK for anti-Islamic rhetoric, and has been described by the anti-racist Centre for American Progress as being ‘at the centre of’ a so-called ‘Islamophobia network’ of hard-Right groups.

Last month it paid the bill for Paul Gosar, a Republican member of the U.S. Congress, to fly to London to address a rally of Robinson supporters.

Then there is Robert Shillman, the billionaire founder of tech firm Cognex, whose clients include the supermarket chain Asda and drug company AstraZeneca.

He financed a ‘Shillman fellowship’ that last year allowed Robinson to be employed by the aforementioned Rebel Media site on what was said to be a ‘high five-figure salary’. The grant also allowed his three assistants to be paid a reported £2,500 a month.

Mr Shillman, a reclusive figure, uses income from the tech firm to channel funds to a variety of far-Right organisations, including the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a California-based ‘school for political warfare’ dedicated to defending conservative values from ‘attack by leftist and Islamist enemies.’ 10

Click here to read more on the seedy background and strange backers of the ‘Tommy’ brand – including the PayPal founder, Trump donor and Bilderberg steering committee member, Peter Thiel – in a remarkably insightful Daily Mail article written by Guy Adams.

Incidentally, there is little that is secretive here – many of Robinson’s backers are quite open about their funding. The aforementioned Middle East Forum in particular is very proud of its central role in the #FreeTommy campaign as its own disingenuous (in terms of the facts surrounding the legal case) press release amply shows. I have republished it in full simply to show how brazen their support is:

The Middle East Forum applauds the release of Tommy Robinson from prison this morning, after the UK anti-Islamist activist won his appeal over a contempt of court sentence.

In June, Mr. Robinson, a long-time target of UK authorities, was covering a rape-gang trial involving Muslim defendants in England when he was arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced to 13 months prison, and jailed – all in the course of five hours, all while denied access to counsel.

The full resources of the Middle East Forum were activated to free Mr. Robinson. We:

  1. Conferred with his legal team and made funding available to them;
  2. Funded, organized and staffed the large “Free Tommy” London rallies on June 9 and July 14 (see The Times, The Guardian, and the Independent);
  3. Funded travel by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) to London to address the rally; and
  4. Urged Sam Brownback, the State Department’s ambassador for International Religious Freedom, to raise the issue with the UK’s ambassador.

What precisely happened: In an extraordinary decision, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales – the head of the judiciary in England and Wales, roughly equivalent to the American chief justice of the Supreme Court – himself wrote a judgment rejecting the kangaroo-court verdict that had Tommy Robinson instantly thrown in jail for over a year because of an obscure Contempt Act that a UK media guide says “in practice … is not enforced.” Lord Chief Justice Burnett denounced what he called “a fundamentally flawed process” and in a further rebuff to the kangaroo-court judge, assigned Tommy Robinson’s case to someone else.

MEF president Daniel Pipes commented: “This validates the #FreeTommy campaign’s claim that Tommy Robinson, yet again, had been treated (in the words of his autobiography’s title) as an enemy of the state. We at the Middle East Forum are delighted by this turn of events and look forward to the charges against Tommy Robinson being considered in a sober, neutral, and un-rushed manner.”

Forum director Gregg Roman adds: “This is a win not just for Tommy Robinson, but for all those in the United Kingdom who publicly discuss Islam and related matters – including Islamism, jihad, and Islamic ‘charities.’ The UK authorities tried to shut down an important debate. They lost. The people won.”

The Forum will continue to support Mr. Robinson’s – and everyone else’s – right to speak freely about controversial topics. 11

What the Daily Mail article fails to delve into, however, are the close ties Middle East Forum has to the US-Israel lobby. For instance, the president of MEF, Daniel Pipes, is a neo-con with connections to the post-9/11 Bush administration, who later received the “Guardian of Zion” award from Bar-Ilan University’s Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies. His fealty to Israel and alignment with the current extreme right-wing government can be judged from an interview with Ruthie Blum of the Jerusalem Post, conducted at the time he picked up his award:

Over the course of the past 15 years, one has seen a host of proposals on how to manage the [Israel-Palestine] conflict. Some of these proposals became government policy; many others are simply proposals. What they have in common, from Left to Right, is that they see this conflict as unwinnable, as merely manageable.

The security fence is a case in point. I am for it. Clearly, it has had – and in the future, when it’s completed, will have even more – the effect of keeping out would-be murderers. But a wall is not the way to win a conflict. A wall is a tactical mechanism to protect oneself, not a strategic way of winning a war. Winning a war requires imagination – perspective – to impose your will on your enemy. That is classically what victory means: imposing your will on your enemy. It doesn’t mean massacring or impoverishing the enemy, but causing him to give up his goals. This notion is virtually absent from Israeli political discussion. 12

Likewise, the Daily Mail article fails to drill down into pro-Israel allegiance of Robert Shillman and the David Horowitz Freedom Center but rather briskly skirts the issue, adding only: “The Southern Poverty Law Center, a prominent civil rights charity, has described the Freedom Center as a ‘hate group’ which publishes ‘anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant racist sentiment’.”

But even from Shillman’s Wikipedia entry we soon discover that he sits on the board of The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. Further down we also learn how in 2008, Shillman had accepted an invitation to be one of Bush jr’s special delegation and sit alongside Henry Kissinger; National Director of the ADL, Abraham Foxman; Paul “the Vulture” Singer; and Las Vegas casino mogul and major Trump donor, Sheldon Adelson; amongst fifty other luminaries gathered in attendance for Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations. 13

Incidentally, here is Sheldon Adelson (who gave $25 million to Trump’s campaign plus $5 million towards his inauguration – $82 million in total to Republicans) speaking in October 2013, at Yeshiva University, Lamport Hall, and calling on “anti-Israel” Obama (on whom he had previously spent $150m to unseat!) 14 to launch a first-strike nuclear attack against Iran:

“What I would say is, listen, you see that desert out there, I want to show you something. You pick up your cellphone and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say okay let it go…” [from 5:25 mins]

Then we come to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an “activist group with a $7 million annual budget that helps promote some of America’s loudest pro-Israel and anti-Muslim voices” 15 to which Shillman is intimately connected. The “Freedom Center” also happens to employ Robert Spencer (who once claimed that a video of an Egyptian ‘die-in protest’ from Egyptian newspaper El Badil was a Hamas video deliberately faking the number of casualties killed by Israel) as well as hawkish Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick, who we learn from its “About” page is “a former captain of the Israel Defense Forces and onetime Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, [and] is the director of the Israel Security Project.”

Then we come to David Horowitz himself, yet another pro-Trump, right-wing tub-thumper and a Breitbart contributor, who said in an interview with Niram Feretti published in translation by Truth Revolt:

Anti-Zionism is another name for Jew hatred. There is no other ethnicity or religion in the world that would be the target of such hatred as the Jewish state, and no other antagonism – except that against America – that would forge an alliance between the progressive left and the Nazis of Islam, who unlike Hitler who concealed his plans for the Final Solution, shout from the rooftops that their goal is to finish the job that Hitler started.

Continuing:

Obama has thrown his support to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the fountainhead of Islamic Nazism and terror, and is the source of the Palestinians’ genocidal campaign to push the Jews into the sea. Although conservatives are still intimidated from saying the truth about Obama because he is black, Obama is an American traitor who has delivered nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to the Iranians who openly proclaim that their goal is “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel.”

And:

It is crucial to winning the global war that the Islamists have declared against us. The Prophet Mohammed called for the extermination of the Jews and a holy war to be waged against infidels – Christians, Hindus, atheists and anyone who will not submit to the Muslim faith. Islam is the only religion, which has been spread by the sword at the specific behest of its prophet. 16

Robert Shillman, David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes are prominent voices of today’s pro-Israel lobby; disturbingly, they are also some of the most outspoken voices for extreme ring-wing bigotry and the new fascism. Their appeal is to those firmly on the right, especially the Christian-right, urging them to rally to the cause of Israel; meanwhile there is another offensive as they and others harangue the left on the false premise that, as Horowitz puts it, “Anti-Zionism is another name for Jew hatred.”

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Final thoughts

Crying wolf about antisemitism is not only a strategy fraught with diabolical dangers but deplorable for so many reasons, yet sadly it works – particularly when, as now, it is cynically deployed against a committed anti-racist like Corbyn. Like a judo move it turns all of his greatest strengths – his integrity and true compassion – against him. But those who wield the charge of “antisemitism” as a blunt weapon, whether in defence of Israel or merely to attack Corbyn, evidently care very little about the untold repercussions of their own insincerity: that it directly undermines the anti-racist cause and may yet cause a terrible backlash is never considered. Nor do they apparently care if they themselves desecrate the memory of real victims of antisemitism including the millions who perished during the Holocaust. Indeed, Norman Finkelstein, whose parents were both Holocaust survivors, tells the story of an encounter with one of Corbyn’s fiercest accusers Jonathan Freedland, which fully exposes the hypocrisy behind these constant attacks:

You can see this overlap between the Labour Right and pro-Israel groups personified in individuals like Jonathan Freedland, a Blairite hack who also regularly plays the antisemitism card. He’s combined these two hobbies to attack Corbyn. Incidentally, when my book, The Holocaust Industry, came out in 2000, Freedland wrote that I was ‘closer to the people who created the Holocaust than to those who suffered in it’. Although he appears to be, oh, so politically correct now, he didn’t find it inappropriate to suggest that I resembled the Nazis who gassed my family.

We appeared on a television program together. Before the program, he approached me to shake my hand. When I refused, he reacted in stunned silence. Why wouldn’t I shake his hand? He couldn’t comprehend it. It tells you something about these dull-witted creeps. The smears, the slanders – for them, it’s all in a day’s work. Why should anyone get agitated? Later, on the program, it was pointed out that the Guardian, where he worked, had serialised The Holocaust Industry across two issues. He was asked by the presenter, if my book was the equivalent of Mein Kampf, would he resign from the paper? Of course not. Didn’t the presenter get that it’s all a game? 17

It behoves the Left to speak out against intolerance and injustice wherever we encounter it, and irrespective of whether or not the Labour Party finally adopts the IHRA definition of antisemitism and thereby pursues a McCarthyite crackdown on free speech, we must feel free to criticise Israel as we might reasonably criticise every other government or nation on earth. If the words on my blog result in my later expulsion from the party then I shall treat this as a badge of honour and fight on. Unless found to be factually inaccurate (in which event I apologise in advance), I retract nothing. We must not allow ourselves to be cowed into submission.

As Kenneth Surin, Professor of Literature and Professor of Religion and Critical Theory at Duke University in North Carolina, wrote in an article published by Counterpunch a few weeks ago:

The 2017 Democracy Index used 4 categories to assess countries –  full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime, and authoritarian regime.

The following countries were ranked by the Index as full democracies: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.

Israel was listed as a flawed democracy, as was the US.

Israel’s leaders have always touted their country as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, as if their country stood on a par with the 19 countries ranked as full democracies by the 2017 Democracy Index. 

Is it “antisemitic” to hold Israel to a standard deemed to be achieved by Mauritius and Uruguay?

Or to say that Israel is really an “ethnocracy”, as opposed to being a democracy?

The Israeli political geographer Oren Yiftachel argued in his 2006 book Ethnocracy: Land and Identity Politics in Israel/Palestine that an ethnocracy is a regime promoting “the expansion of the dominant group in contested territory … while maintaining a democratic façade”.

When it comes to drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, it all depends on the basis used in making the comparison between Israel and the Nazis.

Having gas chambers for mass exterminations, then certainly not.

However, nearly everyone who believes that comparing Israel with the Nazis is “antisemitic” invariably takes the concentration-camp gas chambers as the implicit norm, whether out of bad faith or ignorance, for making such comparisons.

The Nazi “final solution”, vast as it was, had many strands, with horror piled upon horror.  This multiple-layering must be considered when making the Israel-Nazi comparison.

Encircling and starving-out an entire community in a ghetto (Warsaw?), then yes, the comparison is valid – this is precisely what is taking place in Gaza.

The Nazis confiscated Jewish property wholesale; the Israelis are doing the same to Palestinian houses and land in order to “clear” them for the expansion of the illegal settlements, and for alleged military purposes.  B’Tselem, Israel’s human rights watchdog, confirms this on their website.  So, yes, in this case the comparison between Israel and the Nazis is valid.

Jews were prevented from leaving German-occupied Poland by the SS. Similarly, Palestinians are prevented from leaving Gaza (even for medical treatment) by the combined efforts of Israel and the Egyptian dictatorship.  So, yes, in this case the comparison between Israel and the Nazis is valid.

German Civil Police K-9 Units were used by the SS to assist in the roundup and deportation of Jews in WW2.  Similarly, the Israeli army uses attack dogs on unarmed Palestinians when raiding their homes, and when arresting peaceful demonstrators.  So, yes, in this case the comparison between Israel and the Nazis is valid.

It is difficult to see why comparing Israel to the Nazis on these latter bases, while scrupulously eschewing the gas chambers as a basis for comparison (the Palestinians have not been sent to gas chambers en masse), necessarily makes one an “antisemite”.

The Israeli historian Ilan Pappé describes Israel’s policy regarding Gaza as “incremental genocide”, in contrast to the Nazi’s absolute genocide. The final outcome however is not in doubt. 18

Click here to read Kenneth Surin’s excellent article entitled “The UK’s Labour Party and Its ‘Anti-Semitism’ Crisis”.

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Addendum: Open letters from Jewish defenders of Jeremy Corbyn

As I wrote last March, during the last sustained media offensive to spuriously tar Corbyn as an anti-Semite:

It is tiresome to have to defend Corbyn time and again when all charges against him are so easily shown to be baseless and when only the most simpleminded can possibly remain unaware that he is the victim of a carefully coordinated smear campaign that has been running even before his election as Labour leader.

I also republished an official statement released by the Jewish Socialists’ Group (JSG) entitled “Oppose antisemitism and malicious accusations by supporters of the Tory Party” which noted:

Jonathan Arkush, the President of the Board of Deputies, was one of the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election as President of the United States on behalf of the Board. This action was harshly criticised by many Jews he claims that the Board represents. He also gives unqualified support to Israel’s pro-settler Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who enjoys good relations with the very far right political forces in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic who are fanning bigotry against minorities, including Jews.

Until very recently the Jewish Leadership Council was chaired by Sir Mick Davies, who was appointed Tory Party treasurer in February 2016 and is now the Chief Executive of the Conservative Party.

And concluded:

We have worked alongside Jeremy Corbyn in campaigns against all forms of racism and bigotry, including antisemitism, for many years, and we have faith that a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn and Labour-led councils across the country, will be best placed to implement serious measures against all forms of racism, discrimination and bigotry.

Click here to read the full statement on the JSG website.

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Here are further letters of support and statements by prominent Jewish individuals who have spoken out on behalf of Jeremy Corbyn.

In August 2015, just a month after being elected leader of the Labour Party in a landslide victory, nearly 50 prominent Jewish activists including included Laurence Dreyfus, Selma James, Miriam Margolyes, Ilan Pappé, and Avi Shlaim, Tony Greenstein, Prof. Haim Bresheeth, Abe Hayeem, and Michael Rosen, signed an open letter to the Jewish Chronicle. It reads:

“Your assertion that your attack on Jeremy Corbyn is supported by ‘the vast majority of British Jews’ is without foundation. We do not accept that you speak on behalf of progressive Jews in this country. You speak only for Jews who support Israel, right or wrong.

“There is something deeply unpleasant and dishonest about your McCarthyite guilt by association technique. Jeremy Corbyn’s parliamentary record over 32 years has consistently opposed all racism including antisemitism.

“Jeremy Corbyn has nothing to apologise for in his meetings with representatives of Hamas and Hizbollah. Hamas was democratically elected in Palestinian elections generally accepted as fair, and Hezbollah also has strong electoral support in Lebanon.

“You report Paul Eisen as saying that Jeremy Corbyn donated to Deir Yassin Remembered. So did many people before discovering the existence of antisemites and Holocaust-deniers in the organisation. Many people attended the occasional fundraising concert that DYR organised, without either knowing of or sympathising with Mr Eisen’s views.

“As supporters of Israel, perhaps you agree with the racist statements of Israeli government ministers such as Eli Dahan that Jews have higher souls than non-Jews? Or Miri Regev’s belief that asylum seekers are a ‘cancer’? Or, would this be guilt by association, as in your character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn?” 19

Click here to read the same letter published in The Jewish Chronicle.

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In April 2016, this number of prominent outspoken Jewish activists increased to more than eighty when a letter published in the Guardian included the signatures of Miriam David, Ivor Dembina, Professor Stephen Deutsch, Selma James, Stephen Marks, Charles Shaar Murray, Ian Saville and Lynne Segal:

We are Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party and of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, who wish to put our perspective on the “antisemitism” controversy that has been widely debated in the last few weeks (Labour’s antisemitism crisis as Livingstone suspended, 29 April). We do not accept that antisemitism is “rife” in the Labour party. Of the examples that have been repeated in the media, many have been reported inaccurately, some are trivial, and a very few may be genuine examples of antisemitism. The tiny number of cases of real antisemitism need to be dealt with, but we are proud that the Labour party historically has been in the forefront of the fight against all forms of racism. We, personally, have not experienced any antisemitic prejudice in our dealings with Labour party colleagues.

We believe these accusations are part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership, and they have been timed particularly to do damage to the Labour party and its prospects in elections in the coming week. As Jews, we are appalled that a serious issue is being used in this cynical and manipulative way, diverting attention from much more widespread examples of Islamophobia and xenophobia in the Conservative and other parties. We dissociate ourselves from the misleading attacks on Labour from some members of the Jewish community. We urge others, who may be confused or worried by recent publicity, to be sure that the Labour party, under its present progressive leadership, is a place where Jews are welcomed in a spirit of equality and solidarity. 20

Click here to read the same letter published in the Guardian.

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In April 2018, more than forty senior academics wrote another letter in the Guardian condemning anti-Corbyn bias in mainstream media coverage:

One of the main concepts in journalism education is that of framing: the highlighting of particular issues, and the avoidance of others, in order to produce a desired interpretation. We have been reminded of the importance of framing when considering the vast amounts of media coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged failure to deal with antisemitism inside the Labour party. On Sunday, three national titles led with the story while news bulletins focused on the allegations all last week. Dominant sections of the media have framed the story in such a way as to suggest that antisemitism is a problem mostly to do with Labour and that Corbyn is personally responsible for failing to deal with it. The coverage has relied on a handful of sources such as the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and well-known political opponents of Corbyn himself.

Yet where are the Jewish voices who support Corbyn and who welcome his long-established anti-racist record? Where are the pieces that look at the political motivations of some of Corbyn’s most vocal critics? Where is the fuss in your news columns about the rising tide of antisemitism in Europe, such as in Hungary, where the Fidesz government has used antisemitic tropes to bolster its support, or in Poland, where the government is attempting to criminalise revelations about the country’s antisemitic past? Where are the columns condemning the links between Conservative MEPs and rightwing parties across Europe in the European Conservatives and Reformists Group which trade on antisemitism?

It is not “whataboutery” to suggest that the debate on antisemitism has been framed in such a way as to mystify the real sources of anti-Jewish bigotry and instead to weaponise it against a single political figure just ahead of important elections. We condemn antisemitism wherever it exists. We also condemn journalism that so blatantly lacks context, perspective and a meaningful range of voices in its determination to condemn Jeremy Corbyn. 21

Click here to read the same letter published in the Guardian.

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1 From a pre-recorded Novara Media interview with Norman Finkelstein [at 43:50 mins] conducted via video link to New York, broadcast as part of a live-streamed discussion with Barnaby Raine on Monday 6th:

2 From an exclusive story entitled “Jewish News editor slams his paper’s front page attack on Corbyn: ‘It’s repulsive. This is a lifelong anti-racist we’re trashing’ written by Kerry-Anne Mendoza, published in The Canary on August 6, 2018. https://www.thecanary.co/exclusive/2018/08/06/exclusive-jewish-news-editor-slams-his-papers-front-page-attack-on-corbyn-its-repulsive-this-is-a-lifelong-anti-racist-were-trashing/

3 From an article entitled “The fact that Corbyn didn’t yell abuse at a holocaust survivor definitely makes him anti-Semitic” written by Mark Steel, published in The Independent on August 2, 2018. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/antisemitism-labour-party-jeremy-corbyn-jewish-holocaust-survivor-abuse-a8474846.html

4 An article entitled “How Corbyn’s Critics Use the Accusation of Anti-Semitism as a Weapon to ‘Embarrass the Left’” written by Michael Barker, published in Counterpunch on August 2, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/02/how-corbyns-critics-use-the-accusation-of-anti-semitism-as-a-weapon-to-embarrass-the-left/

5 From an article entitled “Ex-kibbutznik who is Corbyn’s left-hand man” written by Rosa Doherty, published in the Jewish Chronicle on January 28, 2016. https://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/interviews/ex-kibbutznik-who-is-corbyn-s-left-hand-man-1.58391

6 Quote from Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby Part 2: The Training Session at 7:55 mins

7 From an article entitled “Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail by Design” written by Janathan Cook, published in Counterpunch on August 20, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/20/corbyns-labour-party-is-being-made-to-fail-by-design/

8 From an article entitled “How Israel helped to revive Europe’s ugly ethnic nationalisms” written by Jonathan Cook published in Middle East Eye on July 13, 2018. https://www.jonathan-cook.net/2018-07-13/how-israel-helped-to-revive-europes-ugly-ethnic-nationalisms/

9 From an article entitled “Wat makes the EDL’s former leaders, who says he is a friend of the Jews, tick?” written by Sandy Rashty, published in the Jewish Chronicle on March 5, 2015. https://www.thejc.com/lifestyle/features/what-makes-the-edl-s-former-leader-who-says-he-is-a-friend-of-the-jews-tick-1.65493

10 From an article entitled “GUY ADAMS asks why British hatemonger Tommy Robinson is being funded by American Billionaires” written by Guy Adams, published in the Daily Mail on August 11, 2018. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-6049325/GUY-ADAMS-asks-British-hatemonger-Tommy-Robinson-funded-American-billionaires.html

11 An article entitled “Tommy Robinson Free – MEF Heavily Involved”, published by Middle East Forum on August 1, 2018. https://www.meforum.org/articles/2018/tommy-robinson-free-mef-heavily-involved

12 From an interview with Ruthie Blum, published in the Jerusalem Post on June 9, 2006. http://www.danielpipes.org/3667/interview-i-watch-with-frustration-as

13 From an article entitled “Bush Visit May Boost Olmert” written by Eli Lake, published in The New York Sun on May 13, 2008. https://www.nysun.com/foreign/bush-visit-may-boost-olmert/76303/

14 Figures taken from an article entitled “The UK’s Labour Party and its ‘Anti-Semitism’ Crisis” written by Kenneth Surin, published in Counterpunch on August 7, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/07/the-uks-labour-party-and-its-anti-semitism-crisis/

Here is the passage in full:

The casino mogul Sheldon Adelson donated $25 million to Trump’s 2016 campaign ($82 million in total to Republicans in 2016), and $5 million towards his inauguration.   Earlier this year Adelson donated $70 million to Birthright, the organization that brings young Jews to Israel for nothing (he’s donated $100m in total to Birthright).  He also donated $30 million to Republicans after Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran.  Adelson spent $150m in the 2012 election in a futile attempt to unseat the “anti-Israel” Barack Obama.

Adelson’s aim in all of this is to swing Trump behind his friend Netanyahu’s “Greater Israel” political agenda.  To this end Adelson pushed hard for the US’s withdrawal from the Iran deal, appointing the arch-Zionist John Bolton as a Trump adviser, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (in contravention of international law), and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.  Adelson has succeeded in all of these objectives.

15 Quote taken from an article entitled “7 Things About David Horowitz, the Right-Wing Polemicist Who Coined ‘Renegade Jew’ Slur on Bill Kristol” written by Josh Nathan-Kazis, published by Forward magazine on May 17, 2016. https://forward.com/news/340852/7-things-about-david-horowitz-the-right-wing-polemicist-who-coined-renegade/

16 From an article entitled “Hammer Blows: The Left, Israel, Obama – an Interview with David Horowitz” based on an interview conducted by Niram Feretti, originally published on the Italian news site L’Informale here, translated and republished by Truth Revolt on March 16, 2016. https://www.truthrevolt.org/commentary/hammer-blows-left-israel-obama-interview-david-horowitz

17 From an interview with Jamie Stern-Weiner on May 3, 2016. https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/jamie-stern-weiner-norman-finkelstein/american-jewish-scholar-behind-labour-s-antisemitism-scanda

18 From an article entitled “The UK’s Labour Party and its ‘Anti-Semitism’ Crisis” written by Kenneth Surin, published in Counterpunch on August 7, 2018. https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/07/the-uks-labour-party-and-its-anti-semitism-crisis/ 

19 From an article entitled “Anti-Israel activists attack JC for challenging Jeremy Corbyn” written by Marcus Dysch, published in The Jewish Chronicle on August 18, 2015. https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/anti-israel-activists-attack-jc-for-challenging-jeremy-corbyn-1.68162

20 An open letter published under the title “Labour, antisemitism and where Jeremy Corbyn goes from here” by the Guardian on April 29, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/29/labour-antisemitism-and-where-jeremy-corbyn-goes-from-here

21 An open letter published under the title “Stop Jeremy Corbyn’s trial by media over antisemitism” published in the Guardian on April 2, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/02/stop-jeremy-corbyns-trial-by-media-over-antisemitism

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Filed under analysis & opinion, Britain, Israel, USA

Jewish Socialists’ Group repudiates the latest “flimsy accusations of antisemitism against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party”

Hardly a day goes by without the launch of fresh slurs against Jeremy Corbyn. Shortly after the rumour mill had stopped spinning bizarre fantasies that he once spied for the Soviets, we were hastily force-fed a new Cold War hysteria in which Corbyn has been endlessly pilloried for his level-headed commitment to due process and refusal to leap to judgement in the case of the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal. Now the screw is being tightened again as the endless trial-by-media seamlessly returns to its original calumny of falsely accusing Corbyn of anti-Semitism – mud sticks and, for understandable historical reasons, the mud of anti-Semitism is particularly hard to shake off.

One year ago, Al Jazeera broadcast a devastating four-part undercover investigation that carefully exposed Israeli meddling in UK politics (see below). Three of the four parts drew attention to a conspiracy involving leading figures within the UK-Israel lobby who were plotting to undermine Corbyn. At the time, shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry called for an official inquiry into the revelations but instead the “diplomat” at the centre of the scandal, Shai Masot, was recalled to Tel Aviv and no further action was taken. The media has since shown no interest whatsoever in digging deeper and following the trail of evidence for what now ought to be known as ‘Israelgate’.

It is tiresome to have to defend Corbyn time and again when all charges against him are so easily shown to be baseless and when only the most simpleminded can possibly remain unaware that he is the victim of a carefully coordinated smear campaign that has been running even before his election as Labour leader.

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The following is an official statement released today by the Jewish Socialists’ Group (JSG) entitled “Oppose antisemitism and malicious accusations by supporters of the Tory Party”:

The Jewish Socialists’ Group expresses its serious concern at the rise of antisemitism, especially under extreme right wing governments in central and Eastern Europe, in America under Donald Trump’s Presidency and here in Britain under Theresa May’s premiership. The recent extensive survey by the highly respected Jewish Policy Research confirmed that the main repository of antisemitic views in Britain is among supporters of the Conservative Party and UKIP.

This political context, alongside declining support for the Tories, reveals the malicious intent behind the latest flimsy accusations of antisemitism against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. These accusations have come from the unrepresentative Board of Deputies and the unelected, self-proclaimed “Jewish Leadership Council”, two bodies dominated by supporters of the Tory Party.

Between now and the local elections the Tories would love to divert the electorate on to accusations of antisemitism against the Labour Party rather than have us discussing austerity, cuts to local authority budgets, the health service, and social care. Many Jews within and beyond the Labour Party are suffering from these policies along with the rest of the population, and oppose them vehemently.

Jonathan Arkush, the President of the Board of Deputies, was one of the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election as President of the United States on behalf of the Board. This action was harshly criticised by many Jews he claims that the Board represents. He also gives unqualified support to Israel’s pro-settler Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who enjoys good relations with the very far right political forces in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic who are fanning bigotry against minorities, including Jews.

Until very recently the Jewish Leadership Council was chaired by Sir Mick Davies, who was appointed Tory Party treasurer in February 2016 and is now the Chief Executive of the Conservative Party.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group includes many members of the Labour party, and we know many Jews who have joined or re-joined the Labour party enthused by the progressive leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour is the party that brought in anti-discrimination legislation at a time when many Tory members were open supporters of and investors in apartheid South Africa. The Tories are the party that have dished out the harshest treatment to migrants and refugees, especially when Theresa May was Home Secretary. Shamefully, they are still refusing to accede to the proposal of Labour peer, Lord Dubs, who came to Britain as a Jewish refugee on the Kindertransport, to take in a small but significant number of unaccompanied child refugees from Syria.

We have worked alongside Jeremy Corbyn in campaigns against all forms of racism and bigotry, including antisemitism, for many years, and we have faith that a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn and Labour-led councils across the country, will be best placed to implement serious measures against all forms of racism, discrimination and bigotry.

Click here to read the full statement on the JSG website.

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Please note: Al Jazeera has since produced a sequel in which it exposes the machinations of the more powerful Israel lobby in America:

In October last year, Clayton Swisher, Al Jazeera’s head of investigations, first announced that the Qatari satellite channel had in 2016 run an undercover journalist in the US Israel lobby.

Swisher made the announcement soon after the UK’s broadcast regulator dismissed all complaints against Al Jazeera’s film The Lobby.

That documentary, broadcast in January 2017, exposed Israel’s covert influence campaign in the UK’s ruling Conservative and opposition Labour parties. The film revealed an Israeli embassy agent plotting with a British civil servant to “take down” a government minister seen as too critical of Israel.

Although Swisher promised the US film would come out “very soon,” nearly five months later it has yet to be broadcast. 1

Click here to read more at The Electronic Intifada.

My previous articles defending Corbyn and others on the left against false accusations of anti-Semitism can be read here and here.

I also wrote an extended article on the allegations uncovered by the four-part Al Jazeera documentary series The Lobby (embedded above).

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Update:

Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) has been equally outspoken in its support for Jeremy Corbyn. Also on March 26th, they reposted an article by independent journalist Jonathan Cook entitled “The sharks circling around Corbyn scent blood”.

It is reposted in full below:

After a short reprieve following Jeremy Corbyn’s unexpected success in Britain’s general election last year, when he only narrowly lost the popular vote, most of the Labour parlamentary party are back, determined to bring him down. And once again, they are being joined in full battle cry by the corporate media.

Last week, Corbyn was a Russian spy. This week we’re in more familiar territory, even if it has a new twist: Corbyn is not only a friend to anti-semites, it seems, but now he has been outed as a closet one himself.

In short, the Blairites in the parliamentary party are stepping up their game. Corbyn’s social justice agenda, his repudition of neoconservative wars of aggression masquerading as “humanitarianism” – lining the coffers of the west’s military-industrial elites – is a genuine threat to those who run our societies from the shadows.

The knife of choice for the Labour backstabbers this time is a wall mural removed from East London in 2012. At that time, before he became Labour leader, Corbyn expressed support on Facebook for the artist, Kalen Ockerman, known as Mear One. Corbyn observed that a famous anti-capitalist mural by the left-wing Mexican artist Diego Rivera was similarly removed from Manhattan’s Rockefeller Centre in 1934.

Interestingly, the issue of Corbyn’s support for the mural – or at least the artist – originally flared in late 2015, when the Jewish Chronicle unearthed his Facebook post. Two things were noticeably different about the coverage then.

First, on that occasion, no one apart from the Jewish Chronicle appeared to show much interest in the issue. Its “scoop” was not followed up by the rest of the media. What is now supposedly a major scandal, one that raises questions about Corbyn’s fitness to be Labour leader, was a non-issue two years ago, when it first became known.

Second, the Jewish Chronicle, usually so ready to get exercised at the smallest possible sign of anti-semitism, wasn’t entirely convinced back in 2015 that the mural was anti-semitic. In fact, it suggested only that the mural might have “antisemitic undertones” – and attributed even that claim to Corbyn’s critics.

And rather than claiming, as the entire corporate media is now, that the mural depicted a cabal of Jewish bankers, the Chronicle then described the scene as “a group of businessmen and bankers sitting around a Monopoly-style board and counting money”. By contrast, the Guardian abandoned normal reporting conventions yesterday to state in its news – rather than comment – pages unequivocally that the mural was “obviously antisemitic”.

Not that anyone is listening now, but the artist himself, Kalen Ockerman, has said that the group in his mural comprised historical figures closely associated with banking. His mural, he says, was about “class and privilege”, and the figures depicted included both “Jewish and white Anglos”. The fact that he included famous bankers like the Rothschilds and Rockefellers does not, on the face of it, seem to be proof of anti-semitism. They are, after all, among the few banking dynasties most people, myself included, could name. These families are about as closely identified with capitalism as it is possible to be.

There is an argument to be had about the responsibilities of artists – even street artists – to be careful in their visual representations. But Ockerman’s message was not a subtle or nuanced one. He was depicting class war, the war the capitalist class wages every day on the weak and poor. If Ockerman’s message is inflammatory, it is much less so than the reality of how our societies have been built on the backs and the suffering of the majority.

Corbyn has bowed to his critics – a mix of the Blairites within his party and Israel’s cheerleaders – and apologised for offering support to Ockerman, just as he has caved in to pressure each time the anti-semitism card has been played against him.

This may look like wise, or safe, politics to his advisers. But these critics have only two possible outcomes that will satisfy them. Either Corbyn is harried from the party leadership, or he is intimidated into diluting his platform into irrelevance – he becomes just another compromised politician catering to the interests of the 1 per cent.

The sharks circling around him will not ignore the scent of his bloodied wounds; rather, it will send them into a feeding frenzy. As hard as it is to do when the elites so clearly want him destroyed, Corbyn must find his backbone and start to stand his ground.

Cook appends his article with the following update:

This piece in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz by their senior columnnist Anshel Pfeffer sums up a lot of the sophistry (intentional or otherwise) underscoring the conflation of leftwing critiques of neoliberalism and globalism with rightwing ultra-nationalism and anti-semitism.

Pfeffer writes:

The conspiracy theories of globalist bankers utilizing mainstream media and corrupt neoliberal politicians to serve their selfish sinister purposes, rather than those of ordinary people, are identical whether from left or right.

And on either side, most of the theorists will never admit to being anti-Semitic. They are just “anti-racist” or “anti-imperialist” if on the left, or “pro-Israel” on the right. And most of them really believe they have nothing against Jews, even while parroting themes straight out of the Protocols [of the Elders of Zion].

Notice the problem here. If you are a radical leftist who believes, as generations of leftists before you have done, that military, political, media, and financial elites operate in the shadows to promote their interests, to wage class war, then not only are you a conspiracy theorist, but, according to Pfeffer, you are by definition anti-semitic. If you believe that an Establishment or a Deep State exists to advance its interests against the great majority, you hate Jews.

The logic of Corbyn’s critics has rarely been articulated so forthrightly and so preposterously as it is here by Pfeffer. But make no mistake, this is the logic of his critics.

Jonathan Cook adds: No one pays me to write these blog posts. If you appreciated it, or any of the others, please consider hitting the donate button on this webpage.

Click here to read Jonathan Cook’s article on the JVL website.

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1 From an article entitled “What’s in Al Jazeera’s undercover film on US Israel lobby?” written by Asa Winstanley, published in The Electronic Intifada on March 5, 2018. https://electronicintifada.net/content/whats-al-jazeeras-undercover-film-us-israel-lobby/23496

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