Israel’s troll army rides to Jake Tapper’s rescue

Man in suit reads news on TV

CNN’s Jake Tapper used the massacre of 22 people by a white supremacist in El Paso, Texas, last month as an opportunity to egregiously smear Palestinians. (via CNN.com)

Israel has activated its propaganda app in support of CNN’s Jake Tapper.

This comes as Tapper faces withering criticism for his anti-Palestinian comments made in the wake of last month’s massacre of 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

In an outrageous and egregious move, Tapper tried to tie the kind of white supremacist rhetoric that motivated the gunman to target Latinos to the way Palestinians “talk about Israelis.”

That smear prompted more than 17,000 people to sign a petition urging CNN to “hold Jake Tapper accountable for his anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian comments.”

But now Israel’s troll army is riding to the rescue. Propaganda officials are employing the Act.IL app to urge users to send Facebook messages to Tapper to encourage him to stand by his anti-Palestinian declarations:

Act.IL is a smartphone app created by Israel lobby groups and Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs in order to generate fake grassroots campaigns in support of Israel.

The app’s operators say its goal is to “influence foreign publics” and “battle” BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.

“A lot of the power of the app comes from concealing or sort of obscuring the real authors behind a lot of this content to try to make it appear as though it is organic, spontaneous online activity … when it is actually choreographed and directed by this app,” Michael Bueckert recently told The Electronic Intifada Podcast.

Bueckert is a researcher who monitors the app and posts about its “missions” on the Twitter account Behind Israel’s Troll Army.

In other words, Act.IL is a state-backed covert influence campaign of exactly the kind Tapper and others loudly accused Russia of operating during the 2016 US election.

Yet while the Russiagate “collusion” and election “interference” narratives collapsed due to a lack of evidence – despite years of hyped media promotion – there is plenty of evidence of Israeli interference.

A lot can be found in Al Jazeera’s leaked undercover documentary The Lobby–USA. And more can be seen in the “missions” of the Act.IL app.

I asked Tapper to condemn Israel’s efforts to influence the media and public on his behalf.

But given CNN’s silence about Israeli interference, I’m not holding my breath.

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.