Spies “monitoring” Palestine solidarity groups around world, says Israeli military correspondent

The Mavi Marmara, part of the 2010 Freedom Flotilla hijacked by Israel. The subsequent backlash in global public opinion led Israeli spies to begin monitoring Palestine solidarity groups.


There was a striking admission buried in this weekend’s edition of Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

After Israel’s killing of nine activists on the Mavi Marmara ship to Gaza in May 2010 caused a “surprise blow” to its image around the world, Israeli spy agencies decided on a widening of their focus.

“Israeli intelligence began to concentrate on monitoring the social networks of Islamic organizations and foreign left-wing activists,” according to the paper’s military correspondent Amos Harel (emphasis added).

This is the closest Israel has come to admitting that it spies on Palestinian solidarity activists around the world.

The revelation was made in a long feature about comparative Israeli and US “anti-terror” efforts, such as extra-judicial assassinations with drones.

Israeli military censor

Harel is a senior correspondent to what is probably Israel’s most important newspaper and has privileged access to Israeli military and spy officials.

According to the “private intelligence” firm Stratfor, in an email released by Wikileaks, Harel is “one of the most widely read and well connected journalists in Israel.” The email also says Harel was likely leaked a copy of the Israeli military’s intelligence annual appraisal for 2012.

Harel is unlikely to have made such a blunt statement of fact if he did not have good reason to think it is the case.

(Incidentally, Harel concludes his analysis with a racist comparison of the Palestinians in the West Bank to animals: “a cat” with claws that gradually turns into “a tiger.”)

As with all Israeli media, he also operates under military censorship, as the recent “Prisoner X” affair has again demonstrated.

Although Australian-Israeli Mossad agent Ben Zygier is now known to have died inside a high security jail in 2010, the military censor ordered the Israeli press to cover the story up, and they of course complied.

The story only came out this month thanks to the Australian press, and much about it is still mysterious — not least of which the question as to what Zygier is alleged to have done to be locked up in the first place.

The military censor allowed this information about Israeli monitoring of pro-Palestinian activists around the world into Haaretz.

Therefore, it seems likely that Israeli spy agencies actually want activists to know they are being watched. The Mossad or Shabak are unlikely to have mistakenly leaked something of this nature.

Following the “sabotage” plan

Earlier in 2010, The Electronic Intifada exposed how an influential Israeli think tank called on the Israeli government to attack and “sabotage” movements of solidarity with the Palestinian people such as the BDS movement.

The Reut Institute said “Israel should sabotage network catalysts” of activists in what it termed “hubs of delegitimization” in major cities in Europe and North America.

If Harel’s information is correct, it seems Israel could well be following Reut’s advice.

Israel’s kidnapping, assassination and torture gang the Mossad is known to work with local Zionist groups around the world. Earlier this month I wrote about one example in the UK: The Community Security Trust.

Back in the 1980s, an Anti-Defamation League agent named Roy Bullock infiltrated Arab community groups in order to spy on and sabotage them, also working for the South African apartheid regime against the African National Congress of Nelson Mandela.

In an astonishing sabotage tactic, ADL agent Bullock even attempted to forge links between the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and a Holocaust denial outfit with neo-Nazi links.

According to one activist quoted in the Spring 2002 edition of Jewish Socialist: “The reason Bullock gave us for attending the IHR [Institute for Historical Review] conferences was to distribute ADC literature and recruit some new members for the Arab-American organization. We found it both strange and suspicious that it had not occurred to him that [anti-Jewish and perhaps even pro-Nazi people were] the last type of individual that the ADC would want as a member” (Charlie Pottins, “ADL settles apartheid spy case”).

As The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah noted earlier this month, a recent report shows the ADL is still keeping a close eye on activists:

Are groups like the CST and ADL following Reut advice to “sabotage” Palestine solidarity groups today?

Update, 20 February: Charlie Pottins kindly agreed to re-publish his Jewish Socialist article on his blog (along with some useful context and further sources on the ADL spying episode). I’ve added the link to the text above.




It seems that one of their techniques is to constantly push holocaust and nazi comparisons while courting right wing racists.


So what else is new? That's who a bunch of us think were being particularly rude on our facebook feeds last year. They tried to flush out friends who have aggressive tendencies by insulting them viciously. They are also extremely rude to activists women. They are so cruel they'd make the infamous Mullah's blush.

Asa Winstanley's picture

I’ve noticed this tactic on Twitter too over the last year or so. Those little eggs with no followers that pop up often seem to do little but curse and insult anyone who criticises Israel.


You refer to me as an "activist" and not by name when you quote me re the exposure of the ADL spy, Roy Bullock. On Pottins blog he attacks me for writing for CounterPunch because it also had published Israel Shamir! It should be noted that all the Trotskyist orgs attacked me for claiming that Bullock was an ADL spy and Socialist Action even allowed him to volunteer in the Spring Mobilization office in April '88, eight months later, where he entered all the 3000 signatories to a petition we submitted to the Mobe calling on it to add support for the First Intifada to its list of demands which were opposing apartheid in So. Africa and US intervention in Central America, into the ADL's files.

Socialist Action, like other Left groups at the time, while claiming to be anti-Zionist, did whatever they could to keep the Palestinian struggle from being linked to other liberation struggles. Unfortunately, they succeeded.

They claimed they needed to do that to appease the labor leaders who were in bed with the Histadrut which had an office in San Francisco.

The first action of our Labor Committee on the Middle East was a picket of the annual dinner of the SF Labor Council and the Histadut, when we exposed the Israeli labor federation's ties to So. Africa. The Histadrut office was closed soon after.


We've always worked on the assumption that Israeli spooks would be keeping an eye on what we're doing: It would be more surprising if they were not. And if they've been doing their job properly, they won't have failed to register the growing sympathy and support for the Palestinian people, both here in Ireland and internationally. Hence their growing paranoia and efforts to invent ever more sophisticated ways of lying. But we deal in truth and facts - that's our strength, no matter how many spies are looking over our shoulder.

Asa Winstanley's picture

This is an imporant point to bare in mind. Keeps things in perspective.

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).