6 November 2018 — The Electronic Intifada
He discovered a network of organizations acting as fronts for the Israeli state to spy on, disrupt and sabotage US supporters of Palestinian rights – especially BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
In the final two parts of of the film, Tony gets a deeper look at Israel’s covert influence campaigns during his internship for The Israel Project.
Watch parts three and four in the videos embedded above and below.
In part three, Al Jazeera interviews Bill Mullen, a professor of American Studies at Purdue University in Indiana, and a leading activist in the BDS movement.
As The Electronic Intifada reported in 2016, Mullen and his family found themselves targeted by an organized smear campaign, starting in March of that year.
Several anonymous websites sprang up, containing fabricated accounts of sexual harassment by Mullen, supposedly by a student.
In the film, Mullen describes the campaign as an attempt to destroy his marriage. His wife, also a professor, was sent a link to one of the sites.
The smear campaign seems to have been manufactured by Israel’s agents in the US.
“These people will do anything”
“One of the [anonymous] accounts explains that in the process of supposedly putting my hand on her, I’d invited her to a Palestine organizational meeting. And I thought, you’re sort of putting your cards on the table there,” Mullen says, explaining how he came to realize that pro-Israel actors were behind the smears.
Mullen recounts how the anonymous websites also used the name of his daughter, which he says was the worst moment for him, when he realized “these people will do anything, they’re capable of doing anything.”
A Students for Justice in Palestine activist who Mullen worked with, speaks anonymously in an interview with Al Jazeera.
She too was targeted by an anonymous smear site, which falsely claimed she engaged in “partying, drinking” and “promiscuity.” She recounts how this led to tension and upset at home, with her parents telling her to end her SJP involvement.
Smear tactics have been common features of “advocacy” for Israel for decades. Israel lobbyists know they cannot win open debate on the actual issues.
Such attempts to target and sabotage activists’ personal lives represent an escalation in tactics in recent years, led by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
These tactics are more reminiscent of Israeli intelligence services’ actions against Palestinian resistance organizations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with the usage of blackmail, disinformation, rumors and sabotage.
This is not entirely surprising considering that the Ministry of Strategic Affairs is largely staffed by Israeli spies.
“It’s psychological warfare”
In undercover footage seen in episode one, the Israel on Campus Coalition’s Jacob Baime admitted to coordinating with the Israeli ministry.
He described his approach as “modeled on General Stanley McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq,” explaining that they “copied a lot from that strategy that has been working really well for us, actually.”
Although Baime seems confused about the country – the US general’s “counterinsurgency” effort was focused on Afghanistan, not Iraq – McChrystal’s strategy emphasizes “offensive information operations.”
In episode three, Baime explains how his organization applies this against “the anti-Israel people” by putting “up some anonymous website” along with targeted Facebook ads.
Baime explains that as a result activists “either shut down or they spend time responding to it and investigating it, which is time they can’t spend attacking Israel.”
“It’s psychological warfare, it drives them crazy,” he claims.
He later states that the Israel on Campus Coalition has a budget of some $2 million for “research” for such smear campaigns alone.
As previously reported by The Electronic Intifada, episode three also names convicted tax evader, and multimillionaire Israel lobby financier Adam Milstein as the founder of secretive blacklisting site Canary Mission.
The foundation’s Jonathan Schanzer admits in undercover footage that “anti-Semitism as a smear is not what is used to be.”
“The foundation that AIPAC sat on is rotting”
Episode four reveals how Israel is working against the Black Lives Matter movement.
Israel’s consul-general in Atlanta is seen in undercover footage complaining that “the major problem for Israel is with the young generation of the Black community.”
The Israel Project’s successful attempts to influence American mainstream media are also detailed, with former CNN journalist Jim Clancy describing it as “propaganda.”
Also in episode four, Tony goes along for the ride with a comically unenthusiastic group of young, conservative think tank fellows, who are compelled by their bosses to join a protest against a Students for Justice in Palestine conference.
Max Blumenthal at the Grayzone Project previously released clips from these scenes, but all the footage can now be viewed on this page.
In the undercover footage, the fellows admit to Tony that what they are doing is “astroturfing” – a term for fake grassroots activism orchestrated or paid for by an interest group.
This feeds into the film’s ultimate conclusion, in the words of Eric Gallagher, Tony’s boss at The Israel Project.
Gallagher admits that the fortunes of AIPAC, Washington’s most powerful Israel lobby group, and his former employer, are not what they once were.
“The foundation that AIPAC sat on is rotting,” he laments.
“There used to be actual 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.”
He adds: “I don’t think that AIPAC is the tip of the spear anymore, which is worrisome, because who is?”