[News] What's in Al Jazeera's undercover film on the US Israel lobby?
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 6 10:33:53 EST 2018
What's in Al Jazeera's undercover film on the US Israel lobby?
Asa Winstanley <https://electronicintifada.net/people/asa-winstanley> -
5 March 2018
The leading neoconservative think tank Foundation for Defense of
functioning as an agent of the Israeli government, Al Jazeera’s
forthcoming investigation on the US Israel lobby will reveal.
According to a source who has seen the undercover documentary, it
contains footage of a powerful Israeli official claiming that “We have
FDD. We have others working on this.”
Sima Vaknin-Gil <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/sima-vaknin-gil>, a
former Israeli military intelligence officer
is said to state that the foundation is “working on” projects for Israel
including “data gathering, information analysis, working on activist
organizations, money trail. This is something that only a country, with
its resources, can do the best.”
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 <https://www.fara.gov/> shows that the
Foundation for Defense of Democracies is not registered.
Al Jazeera’s film reportedly identifies a number of lobby groups as
working with Israel to spy on American citizens using sophisticated data
gathering techniques. The documentary is also said to cast light on
covert efforts to smear and intimidate Americans seen as too critical of
Israel lobby groups have placed intense pressure on Qatar, which funds
Al Jazeera, to shelve the film, fueling speculation it may never be aired.
Covert agent of Israel
Sima Vaknin-Gil, who holds the rank of brigadier-general
<http://www.jpost.com/Jerusalem-Report/Fighting-BDS-469521> in Israel’s
military, is now the top civil servant at Israel’s Ministry of Strategic
The ministry is in charge of running a covert campaign
against BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in support
of Palestinian human rights.
Vaknin-Gil’s ministerial boss is Gilad Erdan
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/gilad-erdan>, a close ally of
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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.
As well as getting funding
from Sheldon Adelson
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.
The film will also reportedly show undercover footage of a junior Israel
lobbyist boasting of how close Israel’s ties are with the United Arab
Emirates and other Gulf regimes.
UAE, Israel deepening ties
Information removed from Max Adelstein’s Facebook page. Click here for
Max Adelstein is said to be seen in the film stating that the lobby has
helped Israel and the United Arab Emirates develop security links “all
under the table.”
Adelstein was an intern at Washington lobbying firm the Harbour Group.
The firm’s clients include
the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
It received $2.2 million from the UAE and more than $300,000 from Saudi
Arabia during the six months ending 30 September 2017.
Adelstein now says he works for AIPAC, Washington’s most powerful Israel
lobby group whose annual conference began Sunday. (Shortly after this
article was published, Adelstein switched on his Facebook
<https://www.facebook.com/max.adelstein> privacy settings and removed
mention of his AIPAC role. Screenshots of his profile have been added.)
The film is said to show Adelstein boasting that ties between the United
Arab Emirates and Israel are “getting so much better, and nobody knows it.”
He told an undercover Al Jazeera reporter that “The governments have to
coordinate on security. It’s all under the table. But on trade,
security, tech, medicine, there’s a lot of cooperation.”
According to The Electronic Intifada’s source, Adelstein is seen in the
undercover footage explaining that an American Jewish Committee “study
tour” of the United Arab Emirates focusing on “mutual cooperation” was
In January, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
Organizations, a forum of Israel lobby groups whose membership includes
<https://www.conferenceofpresidents.org/about/members> the American
Jewish Committee, announced
it had sent a “large delegation” of leaders to the United Arab Emirates,
where it “met with everybody at the highest levels.”
The additional insight into the United Arab Emirates’ cozying up to
Israel lobby groups comes as the wealthy monarchy’s activities in
Washington are facing renewed scrutiny.
A photo from AIPAC staffer Max Adelstein’s Facebook profile, which has
now been made private.
On Saturday, /The New York Times/ reported
that special counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his investigation from
alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential election to “include
Emirati influence on the Trump administration” through the president’s
son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.
“Anti-Semitism as a smear is not what it used to be”
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/jonathan-schanzer>, senior vice
president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is said to be
seen in the undercover footage briefing recruits on how to smear
Palestine solidarity groups in the US who support the BDS movement.
According to the source, Schanzer admits to the undercover reporter that
“BDS has taken everybody by surprise.”
He calls the response by Israel lobby groups “a complete mess,” adding,
“I don’t think that anybody’s doing a good job. We’re not even doing a
According to the source, Schanzer laments that attempts to smear
Students for Justice in Palestine
American Muslims for Palestine
linked to extremist Islamic terrorism have failed to gain traction.
He is also said to regret that the Israel lobby’s habitual tactic of
Palestine solidarity activists are motivated by anti-Jewish hatred is
losing its impact.
“Personally I think anti-Semitism as a smear is not what it used to be,”
he is said to tell the undercover reporter.
Schanzer’s views echo a secret report endorsed by the Israeli government
and distributed to Israel lobby leaders last year. That report, a leaked
copy of which was published by The Electronic Intifada
concludes that Israel’s efforts to stem the growth of the Palestine
solidarity movement have largely failed.
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.
Israel lobby in Qatar
Over the same period, a wave of Israel lobbyists
has visited Qatar at the invitation of its ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad
Al Thani <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/tamim-bin-hamad-al-thani-0>.
Among them have been some of the most rightwing and extreme figures
among Israel’s defenders in the US, including
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Morton Klein, the head of the
Zionist Organization of America.
Multiple Israel lobby sources told Israel’s /Haaretz/ newspaper
last month that they had received assurances from Qatari leaders late
last year that the Al Jazeera documentary will not be aired.
Qatar has denied
Pro-Israel groups have gone on the offensive to try and deter Al Jazeera
from showing the film.
“Let’s not mince words about what this was – a well-funded, professional
espionage operation carried out by Qatar on American soil,” Noah Pollak,
executive director of the neoconservative Committee for Israel, has
Ironically, pro-Israel members of Congress are now pressuring
the Department of Justice to force Al Jazeera to register as an arm of
Qatar, under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, just as the
Russian-funded network RT was recently forced to do.
Whether this pressure will succeed in burying the documentary for good
is perhaps the ultimate test of the Israel lobby influence Al Jazeera
journalists sought to expose.
/Updated to add Max Adelstein screenshots./
/Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with
The Electronic Intifada./
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