Anti-BDS intelligence chief revealed as Shai Har-Zvi

Update, 5 May: Haaretz reporter Yossi Melman has now confirmed the below article by posting on Twitter to say he had previously known Har-Zvi’s name and role, but had agreed not to publish the information.

Dena Shunra translates: “At the time I agreed not to publish his name, but now it has been exposed abroad. Shai Har-Zvi is the head of the intelligence branch in the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, who is responsible for the struggle against BDS; he is a Lieutenant Colonel (Reserve).”

In two later tweets he linked to this report, confirming that The Electronic Intifada’s publication gave him the freedom to talk about the information.

Israel’s military censor often issues gag orders and other press restrictions which prevent journalists from reporting information that Israeli spy agencies deem sensitive. These restrictions are sometimes dropped if publications outside Israel break them.

Original article

A leaked report, endorsed by the Israeli government, has revealed the name of a top official crucial to the fight against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Obtained by The Electronic Intifada, the report lists Shai Har-Zvi as “Director of Intelligence” at the Ministry of Strategic affairs – Israel’s anti-BDS ministry.

Har-Zvi is one of dozens of contributors to the document, which outlines the Israel lobby’s failures in combating the Palestine solidarity movement – what it smears as a “delegitimization” network.

Har-Zvi held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Israeli army, working in the foreign relations and strategy section more than a decade ago. He was also briefly a researcher for the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Har-Zvi may well be connected to Mossad, or one of Israel’s other spy agencies.

Israeli journalist Yossi Melman revealed in September that the intelligence section of the ministry is run by a former security services operative and receives assistance from “a special unit” within Israeli military intelligence and from the Shin Bet secret police.

Melman also reported that the ministry is involved in “black-ops” against the Palestine solidarity movement.

The veteran intelligence analyst wrote that the ministry had hired 25 workers whose names are classified.

Secretive report exposed

The report was written by influential think tank the Reut Institute and US Israel lobby group the Anti-Defamation League. Its existence was first reported in February. Reut and the ADL were said to be “only circulating print copies of the report” among selected pro-Israel operatives and sympathetic media.

The Jewish Daily Forward reported that the newspaper had received the report on condition that it not be published in its entirety.

But The Electronic Intifada has now published the report in full.

Although Har-Zvi’s post on the Begin-Sadat think tank’s website appears to have been deleted, at time of publication the PDF version of a paper he wrote on Russia in the Middle East is still downloadable from the site. His profile page is still on the site too, although it reveals little.

According to Israel expert Dena Shunra, Har-Zvi received his doctorate in 2015 from Israel’s Bar Ilan University. The subject of his dissertation was Jordanian policy towards Jerusalem.

Dena Shunra contributed research and translation.

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The January 2017 strategy report of the Reut Group published by ei says at §87: "The instigators must be singled out from the other groups, and handled uncompromisingly, publicly or covertly as appropriate." (Instigators are those who say Israel itself is illegitimate, as opposed to 3 other groups who at most criticise Israel's actions, not its essence.)
Will we be uncompromisingly covertly handled? Do we need bullet-proof vests? Is this even an illegal threat? Could we instigators file suit?

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.