Israeli documents reveal extensive efforts to influence US discourse on Gaza war

Leaked documents expose a coordinated campaign by the Israeli government to shape American public opinion and policy regarding the Gaza conflict.

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Leaked documents have exposed a coordinated effort by the Israeli government to shape American public opinion and policy regarding the Gaza conflict. The documents, obtained by The Guardian, detail a comprehensive campaign led by Amichai Chikli, a minister in the Israeli government, to counter anti-war protests and redefine antisemitism in the United States.

The “Concert” program, initially known as Kela Shlomo, was designed to carry out “mass consciousness activities” targeting the U.S. and Europe. Recently rebranded as Voices of Israel, the program has relaunched with a significant budget allocated for advocacy efforts. Chikli’s efforts include 80 programs under his oversight, with a budget of 32 million shekels (approximately $8.6 million) spent on government advocacy to reframe public debate.

Amichai Chikli, a 42-year-old Likud minister, has been at the forefront of these efforts. He has argued for a more offensive strategy in the U.S. to counter critics of Israel, especially among young people at elite universities. During a Knesset hearing, Chikli assured lawmakers that there was new funding in the budget for these pushback campaigns, separate from traditional public relations and paid advertising content produced by the government.

One of the key organizations involved is the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP). The ISGAP played a significant role in shaping congressional investigations and redefining antisemitism. Natan Sharansky, the former Israeli Knesset member who now chairs the ISGAP, claimed that their research influenced U.S. lawmakers during a December congressional hearing on antisemitism among student anti-war protesters. The hearing included a viral confrontation between Representative Elise Stefanik and then-president of Harvard University, Claudine Gay.

The ISGAP has been involved in campaigns to enshrine new laws that redefine antisemitism to include certain forms of speech critical of Israel. The organization has also coordinated with other American groups like the National Black Empowerment Council (NBEC) and CyberWell, a pro-Israel anti-disinformation group.

The leaked documents also reveal controversial tactics used by the Israeli government to influence American discourse. This includes the use of fake social media accounts to spread pro-Israel and anti-Muslim content. Despite denials from the Israeli diaspora affairs ministry, records show that the ministry has coordinated numerous campaigns and compiled reports based on tips from pro-Israel U.S. student groups.

Legal and ethical concerns have been raised regarding these activities. The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requires groups receiving funds or direction from foreign countries to disclose their activities to the U.S. Department of Justice. However, none of the groups identified in the documents have registered under FARA. Experts argue that transparency and compliance with FARA are essential to maintain ethical standards in international advocacy.

The broader impact of these revelations has been significant. Eli Clifton of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft highlighted the unusual extent of foreign influence on American political debate. Lara Friedman of the Foundation for Middle East Peace emphasized the ethical concerns surrounding these activities.

The international community and human rights organizations have also reacted to the leaked documents. Public response has included grassroots movements against foreign influence and calls for greater transparency and accountability.

Former United Nations human rights official Craig Mokhiber commented, “Political prisoner Julian Assange, persecuted for years for the crime of journalism, simply for telling the truth about U.S. war crimes, is free.”

British journalist Afshin Rattansi added, “Let no one think that any of us will ever forget what the British state did to the most famous journalist of his generation.”

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Jordan Atwood is a dynamic War and Politics Reporter known for his incisive analysis and comprehensive coverage of international conflicts and political landscapes. His work is driven by a commitment to uncovering the truth and providing a clear, informed understanding of complex geopolitical events. Jordan's reporting not only captures the realities of war but also delves into the political strategies and implications behind them, making his work essential for those seeking a deeper understanding of world affairs.

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