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Israel’s covert influence campaigns in the West

October 27, 2018 at 8:30 am

A group of pro-Israelis wave American and Israeli flags and catcall the demonstrators during a demonstration against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in New York City, US on 9 December 2017 [Atılgan Özdil/Anadolu Agency]

All the hype about Russia aside, the special investigation in the US by Robert Mueller has shed light on something concrete: the real story is IsraelGate.

Israel’s covert influence campaigns in Western democracies are manifold.

Israel is attempting to subvert the UK’s elections by running a years-long interference campaign against opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.

And as Al Jazeera’s film “The Lobby” exposed last year, Israel’s agents in the UK have been attempting to “take down” MPs and ministers in the ruling Conservative Party too – basically anyone in a position of power deemed insufficiently committed to backing Israeli racism.

As revealed in a leaked clip from the censored US follow-up to Al Jazeera’s undercover film, lobby groups in the US with close connections to the state of Israel run deceptive Facebook pages – some of whose content has millions of views – aimed at infiltrating Israeli propaganda into your social media streams.

The Israel Project covertly runs a network of Facebook pages which appear to be about unrelated subjects – history, the environment, women’s issues. The following gained by such innocuous postings is then exploited to subtly push an Israeli propaganda message.

In undercover footage seen in the leaked clip of the documentary, the contractor the Israel Project hired to set up the “secretive” network of Facebook pages explained that “we don’t want people to know that these side projects are associated with the Israel Project” and that about 25 per cent of the material was Israel related.

This content was often calibrated to ostensibly appeal to progressive or liberal audiences, such as an image of an Israeli warplane coloured pink “in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness Month”.

In reality, the Israel Project is a right-wing group which has long pushed for aggressive US action against Iran.

By now, these are all very well proven social media influence campaigns that Israel is involved in, but of course, the establishment media in the US and UK – ever compliant with the government’s foreign policies – says almost nothing critical of Israel, and is totally silent on this.

US ambassador: I’m an ‘unapologetic right-wing defender of Israel’

As well as covert social media influence campaigns, something Russia has been accused a lot of over the last two years is supposedly interfering in the US elections by helping Donald Trump. In reality, again, it is Israel that is really guilty of this.

As the renowned left-wing American intellectual Noam Chomsky pointed out earlier this year, “Israeli intervention in US elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done”. Chomsky is totally correct that a lot of what Israel does in this regard, it does so openly.

Earlier in October, it was revealed that former Israeli intelligence agents proposed a multimillion-dollar social media scheme to employ fake online identities in order to sway the 2016 election in Donal Trump’s favour.

The group acted under the name Psy-Group, a now-defunct private spy firm. The company shut down in February after FBI agents interviewed some of its US employees.

Although it’s unclear whether Tump’s team ever took the firm up on its offer, the fact the plan was ever seriously floated is a sign of how invulnerable Israel considers itself to any form of accountability in the US – and not without reason.

The Trump administration tells lies for itself and for Israel

Israel’s arrogance and seemingly total impunity to act in almost any criminal manner whatsoever is starkly reminiscent of the way the rulers of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia are acting.

The ruling Saudi establishment has been rushing over the past few weeks to repair the damage done to its reputation in the eyes of its allies in the ruling Western elites due to the public nature of the despicable, brutal murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Former US Vice President John Kerry called it “embarrassing” – a telling remark. Kerry’s statement suggests he has little problem with Saudi Arabia’s habitual abuse of human rights, war crimes and imprisonment, torture and murder of dissents – but please don’t do it so publically. It’s embarrassing to us in Western government who sell you weapons and provide you with political cover.

It’s also telling that many in the US Israel lobby have been desperately going out to bat in recent days for Mohammed Bin Salman – the crown prince and effective ruler of Saudi Arabia who is suspected of having ordered Khashoggi’s murder.

The Saudi-Israeli alliance has grown hugely in recent years. Israel, as always, relies on regional dictators as its only allies. As an institutionally racist state, it will never win over the people of the region. Therefore, Israeli propagandists are only too happy to propagandise for Bin Salman.

But there is a further calculation they have. As journalist Clayton Swisher put it this week, “it must be unnerving to countenance a day when – like Saudi – the world media focus will centre on Israel and its brutal killings”.

For Palestinians and other victims of Israel’s atrocities, that day cannot come soon enough.

Read: Trump team asked Israel firm to create election smear campaign

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.