Sarah Leah Whitson, the head of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division, was fiercely attacked by anti-Palestinian groups and pundits this weekend.
My tweet included an article from last year in which I reported a clear example of Israeli interference in British politics.
The “Act.IL” organization, which is coordinated, backed and has been funded by Israel’s so-called Ministry of Strategic Affairs, had used a troll army to spread false information about Jeremy Corbyn – the leader of the UK’s official opposition party.
Whitson commented, “Why is this #Israel interference in domestic UK politics acceptable? Is it only a problem when Russia does this?”
Both are pertinent questions.
But predictably, Israel’s propagandists attacked the article as “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”
What Whitson’s attackers refused to address was the substance of the report. Instead, they falsely accused her of spreading “anti-Semitism.”
This is a deliberate tactic to distract from how Israel interferes in domestic UK politics – and indeed around the world.
What I reported – and has still not been contested, let alone refuted – is the fact that in August last year, a well-funded group called Act.IL had used a troll army to spread anti-Corbyn and anti-Labour propaganda in the UK.
A “mission” on the app directed users to comment on Facebook in response to a Huffington Post UK story about Corbyn’s alleged “anti-Israel remarks,” which the Israel-backed app claimed are “often a way to hide anti-Semitism.”
Since that report, The Electronic Intifada has obtained further evidence that Act.IL’s budget is more than $1 million.
An internal report states that, based out of “media rooms” in Israel, the US and the UK, Act.IL can direct an army of more than than 15,000 propagandists via its app.
This is only one example of Israeli interference in the UK. Here are some recent examples that we have reported in detail.
In January 2017, an Israeli embassy spy, Shai Masot, was expelled from the UK after plotting to “take down” a senior Conservative minister, and other members of Parliament.
That same month it was revealed that Joan Ryan – Israel’s top MP within the UK Labour Party – fabricated an allegation of anti-Semitism at Labour’s annual conference in order to smear a party member and Palestine solidarity campaigner.
At that same conference, undercover video taken by an Al Jazeera reporter shows Masot telling Ryan, who is chair of Labour Friends of Israel, that he had secured “more than one million pounds” in Israeli government funding to bring UK lawmakers on junkets to Israel.
“We work with Shai, we know him very well,” she said in undercover footage.
Rose herself had only recently been working directly at the embassy, and is still involved with the JLM – one of the most prominent anti-Corbyn groups.
But for anti-Palestinian propagandists, all these uncontested facts are ignored, or dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” or “anti-Semitic.”
The defamation against those who report factually about Israel and its campaigns to influence politics overseas as anti-Semitic is not only deeply dishonest, but actively damaging to genuine anti-racist efforts to fight anti-Semitism – which is rising globally in Israel-allied countries such as Ukraine and Hungary.