Podcast Ep 4: How Israel spies on US campaigners

This week on The Electronic Intifada Podcast, co-hosts Nora Barrows-Friedman and Asa Winstanley are joined by Hatem Bazian, a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, and chair of American Muslims for Palestine.

Bazian talks about being the target of a black ops intimidation campaign reportedly organized by Psy-Group, an Israeli intelligence firm staffed by former Mossad agents, which spied on activists and professors on US campuses.

In 2017, when he walked outside his Berkeley home to take his young daughter to school, Bazian says that flyers were posted on the windshields of cars with images of his face and that of Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, accusing them of being terrorists and supporting terrorism.

The flyers were also posted on the windshields of cars in downtown Berkeley, close to the university campus entrance, and similar ones were posted around the campus itself.

“This was a coordinated campaign that was being unleashed on those individuals that are at least either engaged in BDS or outspoken on Palestine,” Bazian tells The Electronic Intifada Podcast.

In an article this month detailing Psy-Group’s actions against boycott activists, and working from a recent investigation on the organization by The New Yorker, Electronic Intifada contributor Kristian Davis Bailey writes that around the same time, Psy-Group “advertised to a potential partner, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, that it had compiled intelligence dossiers on nine Palestinian rights activists, including a lecturer at UC Berkeley, presumably Bazian.”

The group “raised at least $1.2 million to conduct dark web surveillance, in-person intimidation, online blacklists and smear campaigns against Palestinian rights activists,” Bailey reports.

Bailey adds that “The information revealed about Psy-Group demonstrates yet another Palestine exception in US policy, where it is perfectly permissible for former Israeli agents to spy on and attempt to harm the work and livelihood of US citizens.”

Israel’s campaign of psychological warfare against US citizens who advocate for Palestinian human rights uses front organizations which may skirt the law.

We also discuss the current situation with Asa being investigated by the Labour Party over his tweets critical of Zionism, Israel’s state ideology, as well as his reporting on the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis and the activities of Israel lobby groups.

Articles we discuss

Theme music and production assistance by Sharif Zakout

Music: “Dheisheh” by Excentrik

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All that Mossad training and the only thing they could come up with was to put flyers on the windshields of cars in downtown Berkeley? How pathetic

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Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).