[News] What's in Al Jazeera's undercover film on the US Israel lobby?

Anti-Imperialist News 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 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/foundation-defense-democracies> is 
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 
Affairs <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ministry-strategic-affairs>.

The ministry is in charge of running a covert campaign 
of sabotage 
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 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/sheldon-adelson>, the 
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 
full resolution 

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”

Jonathan Schanzer 
<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 
good job.”

According to the source, Schanzer laments that attempts to smear 
Students for Justice in Palestine 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/students-justice-palestine> and 
American Muslims for Palestine 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/american-muslims-palestine> as 
linked to extremist Islamic terrorism have failed to gain traction.

He is also said to regret that the Israel lobby’s habitual tactic of 
falsely alleging 
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.

    Film delayed

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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