Guardian wants you to fear ‘Israeli influence’ over the US

Two Guardian journalists devoted 2,600 words of text to impute something dark and sinister the fact that, following Hamas’s Oct. 7th massacre, an Israeli ministry spent some money to fight antisemitism and promote Israel’s cause in the US.  We’re not oversimplifying this. That’s really the bottom line of the ‘revelations‘ by the outlet (“Exclusive: Israeli documents show expansive government effort to shape US discourse around Gaza war“, June 24) written by Lee Fang and Jack Poulson.

For starters, the piece opens with a risible characterisation of the protests that broke out in the US in the opening sentence as g “anti-war protests from young people across the United States, especially at elite universities”.

We’ve devoted a lot of space on our site, and on X, documenting the protests both in the UK and the US, and to describe the fanatical outbursts of hate against Israel and Jews, which has often included explicit support for terrorism, that began immediately following the worst antisemitic attack since the Holocaust, as ‘anti-war protests’ evokes Soviet-level propaganda.

The Guardian then ‘reveals’ that Chikli relaunched a partnership with an organisation called Voices of Israel, which, as you can see on their website, is transparent about their partnership with the Israeli ministry.  Readers are told that Voices of Israel “previously worked with groups spearheading a campaign to pass…“anti-BDS” state laws that penalize Americans for engaging in boycotts or other non-violent protests of Israel.  This is a lie.  The anti-BDS laws which have passed in 38 US states do not limit free speech about Israel by individuals, as to do so would run afoul of the robust free speech guarantees in the US Constitution.

These state bills, almost all of which have withstood legal challenge, narrowly prohibit economic decisions that discriminate against Israel or Israelis.  Indeed, by way of comparison, many states bar contracts with companies who engage in-other forms of discrimination. As a federal appeals court wrote in a 2022 decision upholding Arkansas’ law requiring state contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel, which found that the restriction is not an unconstitutional violation of free speech “Because [such] commercial decisions are invisible to observers unless explained, they are not inherently expressive and do not implicate the First Amendment.”

One of the other revealing aspects of the Guardian ‘scoop’ is that, by the article’s own admission, the amount spent by the Israeli ministry to combat antisemitism and disinformation abroad, which the authors frame as ‘sharping opinion’, is “32m shekels, or about $8.6m “- an amount so small that it could represent a rounding error in the country’s overall budget.

Let’s put this in even more relevant context. According to Open Secrets, the Israeli government in 2023 spent a total of $155,210 to lobby the US, while non-government Israeli entities spent $116,061.  By contrast, Qatar’s government spent $8,488,502 in 2023, while non-government entities in that country spent another $12,841,541 that year.  According to the Washington Free Beacon, Doha, which provides shelter and cash to Hamas’s top leaders, has spent nearly $6 billion in US lobbying since 2007, money which has included funneling cash to, and thus influencing, the United States’ top universities.

(In fact, Qatar isn’t even on the top 10 list of foreign countries lobbying in the US.  Saudi Arabia, which is second on the 2023 list, spent $92,266,015 and $792,665 in non-government spending.)

To observe that what Jerusalem spends directly lobbying the US government is a drop in the bucket of the total amount spent in foreign lobbying is a profound understatement.  Yet, the Guardian can’t be bothered with the facts about the huge amount of Saudi and Qatari lobbying in the US, as they dutifully provide the following unchallenged quote:

“There’s a fixation on policing American discourse on the US-Israel relationship, even college campus discourse, from Israel, going all the way up to Prime Minister Netanyahu,” said Eli Clifton, a senior adviser at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. “One struggles to find a parallel in terms of a foreign country’s influence over American political debate.”

The Quincy Institute, a pro-isolationist think tank which has been criticised for sympathising with authoritarian regimes while smearing dissidents and genuine human rights activists, opposes a close U.S.-Israel relationship. Tellingly, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt – who co-wrote the widely condemned antisemitic book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy – are nonresident scholars at the Institute.

Clearly, neither Quincy nor the Guardian aren’t concerned about Qatar’s efforts to ‘shape the debate’ in the US.

In fact, the piece’s only reference to the country is to derisively note complaints, by Natan Sharansky, about the oil-rich authoritarian regime’s influence.  The writers are instead far more concerned about the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), whose research was cited in December during congressional hearings about antisemitism on college campuses.  Many would recall the viral clips from that hearing which showed several university presidents refusing to say whether calling for genocide against the Jews would violate their campus rules.

The Guardian authors of the piece don’t question ISGAP’s research, but, rather, want readers to be alarmed that, back in 2018, ISGAP allegedly received “a majority of its funding” from Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry.  Even more alarming to the Guardian is the fact that ISGAP has been one of the groups pushing for wider adoption of the internationally popular IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

Echoing what’s known as the Livingstone Formulation, the article promotes the view that IHRA represents a sinister attempt to use “antisemitism as a cudgel to penalize critics of Israeli policy”.

Most comical, perhaps, is this passage in the article – evidently their version of a smoking gun pointing to Israel’s influence over US policy:

“Another related bill in Florida, HB 187, has passed both houses of the state legislature and awaits signature by the governor, Ron DeSantis. Emails obtained by a record request show that Kennedy Starnes, an official in the Israeli foreign ministry, corresponded with state senator Lori Berman about the legislation.”

The bill in question, which passed the state Senate unanimously, merely endorses the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, which 34 other states have already adopted in some form.  What possible significance do the Guardian journalists attach to the fact that one Israeli official corresponded with a state senator about the bill?

But, the article’s authors not only fail to express concern over the tsunami of antisemitism in the US, and in other Western nations, since Oct 7, but launch an attack on mainstream Jewish groups who’ve worked to support Jewish university students. They write that Hillel International, which promotes Jewish life on college campuses, “has reported financial and strategic support from Mosaic United, a public benefit corporation backed by Chikli’s ministry”. The longstanding partnership, the Guardian warns, “is now being utilized to shape the political debate over Israel’s war.”

The piece also quotes Lara Friedman, president of the radical anti-Zionist organisation, ‘Foundation for Middle East Peace’, complaining that “there’s a built-in assumption that there’s nothing at all weird about viewing the US as sort of an open field for Israel to operate in, that there are no limitations,”  To give you a sense of Freidman’s ideological persuasion, on Oct. 13, less than week after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre, and two weeks before the IDF launched a ground war in Gaza, Friedman tweeted, “We are watching Israel commit large scale genocide/ethnic cleansing in real time, with the US govt and much of the organized Jewish community justifying it, defending it, materially supporting it, celebrating it and quite literally cheering it on.

That same day, she tweeted this hateful screed:In a few generations my people went from surviving genocide to reveling in doing same to Palestinians – in revenge for Hamas’s heinous acts this week, but more fundamentally as revenge for Palestinians daring to exist & not letting us forget what Israel’s done to them for 75 yrs.”

The fact that Guardian journalists saw fit to uncritically quote an extreme activist who’s peddled racist rhetoric about Jews helps explain both the antisemitic dog whistle in the article about Israel’s putative influence over US policy and the alleged ‘collusion’ of US Jewish groups in this foreign ‘meddling’.  It also speaks volumes that, in a 2,600 plus piece focusing largely on Israeli and Jewish efforts to fight antisemitism, there was no mention or even allusion to the fact that 2023 saw the highest number of record incidents of anti-Jewish hate were recorded.

The Guardian isn’t content with merely gaslighting Jews about the surge of antisemitism following the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre, but has again shown it’s more than willing to evoke the very toxic canards about ‘Jewish power’ that fuel anti-Jewish bigotry in the UK.

Related Posts

Times video promotes Hamas’s unevidenced allegations

Written By
More from Adam Levick
CAMERA sites monitor media coverage of Israel, Nov. 20-26: Guardian, BBC, NYT, Ynet, Europa Press
Our regular round up of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites: Brooklyn College...
Read More
Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *