[News] Meet the Owner of Canary Mission's Anonymous Anti-Palestinian Blacklisting Website

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 22 11:19:53 EDT 2018


https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/08/22/meet-the-owner-of-canary-missions-anonymous-anti-palestinian-blacklisting-website/ 



  Meet the Owner of Canary Mission's Anonymous Anti-Palestinian
  Blacklisting Website

August 22, 2018
------------------------------------------------------------------------


        Canary Mission has exploited its anonymity to smear college
        students with impunity. The Grayzone has obtained documents
        identifying the owner of the malicious anti-Palestinian
        organization’s web domain.


        By Hamzah Raza and Max Blumenthal

Since it first registered its website in February 2015, Canary Mission 
<https://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/modern-day-mccarthyists-are-going-extremes-slime-activists-fighting-israels> 
has been a source of mystery and menace. Dedicated to blacklisting 
students involved in Palestine solidarity activism, intimidating them 
and denigrating their public reputations, Canary Mission’s 
administrators have gone to great lengths to conceal their identities. 
The secrecy has enabled them to target legally defenseless students – 
who are mostly members of minority and immigrant groups — with total 
impunity.

Now, the Grayzone can identify a key figure behind the malicious 
blacklisting operation. He is the owner of Canary Mission’s domain name 
and a wealthy lawyer who is a fervent supporter of Israel. According to 
documents provided to the Grayzone, his name is Howard David Sterling.

Sterling has said that it his life’s mission to increase foreign 
investment in Israeli healthcare companies. Having worked extensively in 
Israel’s medical and hi-tech sector, he sees investment in the country 
as a means of ensuring American support for Israel. He has published 
several videos <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQEQVEKzEO8&featur=> on 
YouTube highlighting what he sees as Israel’s “impossible” medical 
breakthroughs.

In an interview with the Jewish National Fund’s IsraelCast, Sterling 
stated 
<https://player.fm/series/israelcast/ceo-of-the-sterling-group-intl-howard-sterling>that, 
“People will protect their pocket books. And if they have shares in 
Israeli companies, they are going to want to protect their pocket books 
by protecting Israel.”

Other major Israel lobby operatives featured on the JNF’s podcast 
include Jacob Baime, who is Executive Director of the Israel on Campus 
Coalition (ICC). Adam Milstein, a California-based Israeli-American 
hedge fund director who is among the top funders of the ICC, sits on 
Baime’s board of directors.

Josh Nathan Kazis, a correspondent for the Jewish Daily Forward, 
reported 
<https://forward.com/news/407127/a-new-wave-of-hardline-anti-bds-tactics-are-targeting-students-and-no-one-knows-who-s-behind-it/>that 
the ICC’s Baime hired a professional consultant to battle a divestment 
resolution at Ohio State just a month after Canary Mission registered 
its website. It was the first known instance of the Israel lobby hiring 
political professionals to battle the BDS (boycott, divestment and 
sanctions) movement on campus.

Two months later, the Israeli government appointed Gilad Erdan as 
Minister of Strategic Affairs, transforming the outfit into the 
military-intelligence apparatus’s main base of operations against the 
global BDS movement.

Sterling is a previously unknown figure whose ties to the ICC and other 
pro-Israel organizations are not firmly established. And that might be 
why Canary Mission’s website, which thrives off of anonymity, is 
registered under his name.

Calls by the Grayzone to the phone number associated with Sterling’s 
registration form were not answered.

*The Israel on Campus Coalition supports Canary Mission*

The Sterling-owned Canary Mission website has had such an inflammatory 
effect that it generated controversy even within Zionist circles. The 
American Jewish Congress has condemned 
<https://forward.com/news/407127/a-new-wave-of-hardline-anti-bds-tactics-are-targeting-students-and-no-one-knows-who-s-behind-it/>the 
organization, while the Anti-Defamation League backed away after 
initially issuing support, referring 
<https://forward.com/fast-forward/399850/adl-backtracks-on-islamophobic-and-racist-canary-mission/>to 
Canary Mission as “Islamophobic and racist.”

But the ICC has consistently stood by Canary Mission. The ICC brings 
together some of the lobby’s most hardline organizations, from the 
Zionist Organization of America to the David Project to the right-wing 
Christians United for Israel.

The ICC’s 2016-2017 annual report endorsed 
<https://israelcc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/2016-2017-Year-End-Report.pdf>Canary 
Mission, referring to it as a “strong deterrent against anti-Semitism 
and BDS activism.” Baime, the Executive Director of the ICC, has been an 
avid defender 
<https://forward.com/news/407127/a-new-wave-of-hardline-anti-bds-tactics-are-targeting-students-and-no-one-knows-who-s-behind-it/>of 
Canary Mission.

Sources who have viewed an unreleased Al Jazeera investigative 
documentary series about the Israel lobby have told the Grayzone that 
the series identifies the operatives who conceived and today direct 
Canary Mission. Al Jazeera has refused to air the documentary since 
falling under pressure from the lobby and its supporters in Congress.

*Canary Mission triggers FBI interrogation, campus-wide surveillance*

Since its advent in 2015, Canary Mission has been one of the most 
pernicious weapons of the Israel lobby.

Today, the Sterling-owned website contains profiles of nearly 2000 
students and over 500 college professors considered enemies of Israel. 
The site was created with the stated aim to expose those who “promote 
lies and attacks on Israel and the Jewish people” so that “the public is 
better informed.“

In practice, this means that those who overly support the Palestinian 
cause are publicly defamed through the publication of personal dossiers 
containing inaccurate, misrepresented, and/or out-of context statements. 
By raising the stakes of Palestinian solidarity activism, the website 
intends to act as a deterrent to students considering Palestinian 
solidarity activism — particularly those from marginalized communities 
like immigrants and people of color.

The case of a Palestinian-American law student named Ahmad Aburas 
<https://theintercept.com/2018/06/24/students-for-justice-in-palestine-fbi-sjp/>provides 
a particularly disturbing portrait of Canary Mission tactics in action. 
While Aburas was enrolled at Seton Hall Law School, Canary Mission 
contacted school administrators to suggest that statements he made on 
social media expressed support for terrorism. Seton Hall then called the 
FBI, Aburas was taken out of class and subjected to interrogation by 
federal agents over his political views.

One Facebook status that Canary Mission singled out related to Israel’s 
2014 bombing of Gaza, where Israel killed 551 Palestinian children in 
Gaza and destroyed some 100,000 homes.

Amid the atmosphere of despair, Aburas took to Facebook to declare, “We 
are all RESISTANCE ! We are all #hamas ! We are all HUMAN.”

Aburas maintained that he was challenging the Israeli propaganda that 
targets every Palestinian as a member of Hamas, not expressing any 
ideological affinity with the organization or its military resistance. 
Yet none of this mattered to Canary Mission, which branded him as a 
terrorist sympathizer and deliberately triggered his FBI interrogation.

“Canary Mission is an alt-right Zionist website created to put an end to 
Palestinian political opinions. Through false information and hostile 
tactics, Canary Mission intimidates pro-Palestinian organizers and 
activists,” Aburas said.

A co-author of this investigation, Hamzah Raza, also experienced the 
Israel lobby’s culture of intimidation while part of Vanderbilt’s 
Students for Justice in Palestine chapter. There were multiple occasions 
when members of the David Project, an affiliate of the ICC, inquired 
about the student organization’s budget, took notes on laptops at the 
back of meetings, and even attempted to record its events.

When Canary Mission created a profile on Raza, he was shocked at the 
level that the Israel lobby’s intimidation tactics had gone to. The 
website compiled 67 images of him and stated that he “supported 
terrorists, demonized Israel, and spread anti-Israel propaganda.”

Anonymity has allowed Canary Mission to carry out its McCarthyite 
tactics with impunity. But as this Grayzone investigation demonstrates, 
members of this high-tech goon squad can not hide their faces forever. 
Accountability is coming.


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