[News] Meet the Owner of Canary Mission's Anonymous Anti-Palestinian Blacklisting Website
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 22 11:19:53 EDT 2018
Meet the Owner of Canary Mission's Anonymous Anti-Palestinian
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
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
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
In an interview with the Jewish National Fund’s IsraelCast, Sterling
“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,
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
organization, while the Anti-Defamation League backed away after
initially issuing support, referring
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
Mission, referring to it as a “strong deterrent against anti-Semitism
and BDS activism.” Baime, the Executive Director of the ICC, has been an
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
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
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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