Posts Tagged ‘BDS’

Human Rights Watch: Lebanon tortured falsely accused pro-Israel actor Ziad Itani

July 16, 2018

Lebanese actor, framed with spying for Israel, was tortured says watchdog group

Human Rights Watch publishes details of Ziad Itani’s detention, during which he was beaten until he confessed to a crime he didn’t commit

Times of Israel
July 16, 2018

Ziad Itani, a Lebanese stage actor, who was indicted on charges of collaborating with Israel and drug possession, is carried by his neighbors and relatives after he was released by Lebanese authorities, at his house, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, March 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Ziad Itani, a Lebanese stage actor, who was indicted on charges of collaborating with Israel and drug possession, is carried by his neighbors and relatives after he was released by Lebanese authorities, at his house, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, March 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A rights group on Monday published an account of the arrest and torture of a prominent Lebanese actor who was apparently framed for spying for Israel, before eventually being cleared of the charges and released.

Human Rights Watch released the details after interviewing stage actor Ziad Itani following his release in March after he was falsely accused of espionage in November 2017.

Over the course of six days men in civilian clothes “beat him repeatedly, tied him in a stress position, hung him by his wrists, kicked him in the face, threatened to rape him, and threatened his family with physical violence and legal charges,” the rights group said.

Itani told HRW he was held by men in civilian clothes in what appeared to be an “unofficial detention center.” It was only after he signed a confession following days of abuse that he was eventually handed over to a military court.

“Lebanese authorities should conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of Itani’s allegations of forced disappearance and torture at the hands of State Security,” HRW said.

The rights organization said that although it spoke with Itani in March after his release, the actor asked that it not publish the details until now.

At the end of May a Lebanese court charged a high-ranking officer with “fabricating” evidence against Itani.

Lieutenant Colonel Suzanne Hajj, who headed a unit in Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces tasked with fighting cybercrime, was detained for questioning in March over suspicions she had enlisted the help of a hacker to fabricate conversations between Itani and an Israeli woman.

A source close to the investigation said Hajj had sought revenge against Itani after he shed light on her liking a controversial post on Twitter last year, after which she was demoted.

Lebanese were shocked when news broke that Itani had allegedly confessed to having been “tasked to monitor a group of high-level political figures” and their associates on behalf of Israel.

Lebanon, which technically remains at war with its southern neighbor, upholds a boycott of Israeli products and of contact with its nationals.

People close to the actor had maintined his “confession” was extracted under duress, though the authorities denied the accusation.

Itani has shot to prominence in recent years because of a series of comedy plays on Beirut, its customs, and the transformations it has undergone in recent decades.

The works — particularly “Beirut Tariq al-Jdideh,” which refers to a majority-Sunni neighborhood of the city — have been very well-received.

AFP contributed to this report.



German bank’s anti-Israel policies may have violated its own internal policies and anti-terror finance laws

June 16, 2018

Bank for Social Economy may have violated its own internal policies and anti-terror finance laws by providing a bank account to the pro-BDS group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)

 JUNE 16, 2018 16:39

 Exclusive: PayPal closes second illegal French BDS account

 German intelligence agency deems BDS antisemitic

German bank enabling BDS may violate its ethical code of conduct

The German flag is pictured at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, November 7, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/HANNIBAL HANSCHKE)

Action Forum Israel, which was founded by Israelis living in Germany and Germans, asked if the “Jewish Voice for a Just Peace fulfills the criteria of the bank as a customer” in light of the BDS-groups connections to its self-described “sister organization” Jewish Voice in the US that supports the convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh.

The US-based Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which Israel banned in January from entering its territory, hosted the convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh at its spring 2017 conference in Chicago.

The head of Jewish Voice said at the time that JVP was “honored to hear from her.”

Odeh, a former member of the US- and EU-classified terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was responsible for a 1969 bombing that murdered two students, Leon Kanner and Eddie Joffe, in a Jerusalem supermarket.

She pleaded guilty in 2017 to US naturalization fraud, and was deported in September to Jordan because she had lied about her terrorism conviction when she entered the US.

According to the Bank for Social Economy’s code of conduct, the bank values such concepts as “integrity, fairness, honesty, respect, professionalism, competence, responsibility.”

The Action Forum Israel asked in its report: “Does the Bank for Social Economy support indirectly the terror organization PFLP?”

The Action Forum Israel revealed that the bank’s policy on its cutomer organizations states: “Donations to politicians , political parties or other political parties are banned.” The Action Forum questioned if Jewish Voice’s political advocacy violates the bank’s ban on political work. Jewish Voice has campainged to convince German politicians and the public to boycott military deals with Israel and against  Israel’s embassy for sponsoring of a pop culture festival slated for August in Berlin. British and US bands have boycotted the festival due to the BDS pressure campaign from Jewish Voice and other anti-Israel entities.

According to a screenshot of the German Jewish Voice’s Facebook page, the group defines itself as a “political organization,” the Action Forum report noted.

When asked about the alleged irregularities in the bank’s business with the BDS group, Mario Kyriasoglou, a spokesman for Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that BaFin “cannot comment on individual institutions due to an obligation of confidentialty.”

The Post asked if BaFin plans to investigate the questions raised by the Action Forum Israel in its report on possible misconduct at the bank.

The Cologne-based bank’s chairman Harald Schmitz declined to respond to numerous Post email queries. The bank’s alleged pro-BDS activities have caused a steady loss of business for the bank. The Action Forum Israel also noted in its report that German courts have determined that members of Jewish Voice have expressed antisemitic comments.

The Action Forum Israel also presented clear evidence from the by-laws of Jewish Voice in Germany that it does not support Israel’s right to exist. Jewish Voice is the German representative of the global BDS organization that, according to critics like the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Action Forum Israel, is an antisemitic campaign that seeks the destruction of the Jewish state.

Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal – the premier Israeli public fund-raising global organization to advance the security of the Jewish state announced in June that its German branch will wind down business with the bank because the financial institution enables BDS against the Jewish state. Uwe Becker, the deputy mayor of the city of Frankfurt said it will not engage in business with bank because of the bank’s BDS activity.

In April, the German LGBT organization Magnus Hirschfeld Foundation cancelled its account with the bank to protest the bank’s alleged support of BDS. The Simon Wiesenthal Center is serioulsy considering including the top three executives of the bank–Schmitz and his deputies Oliver Luckner and Thomas Kahleis- in its list of the top-ten outbreaks of antisemitism and anti-Israelism in 2018. The bank maintains at least four accounts that indirectly or directly advance the goals of the BDS against the Jewish state.

Meet Sajid Javid, UK’s top Muslim, pro-Israel politician, who just may become PM

May 13, 2018


Born to Pakistani immigrant parents, the new Home Secretary of the UK is a passionate supporter of israel, and fights against anti-Semitism and BDS

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and suit

Sajid Javid

LONDON — Sajid Javid, Britain’s new home secretary, is an unapologetic friend of Israel and a longstanding ally of the Jewish community.

Javid is the first Muslim to hold one of the UK’s three great offices of state. Aside from the prime minister, his only equals in the cabinet are the chancellor of the exchequer and the foreign secretary.

His promotion this week increased speculation about, and cut the odds on, him succeeding Theresa May in Downing Street.

Javid’s background is hardly typical for a Conservative politician. His father, Abdul, arrived in Britain in 1961 with £1 in his pocket. He settled in Rochdale in the northwest of England, working first in a cotton mill and then as a bus driver. The family later moved to Bristol, a city in the southwest, where Javid and his four brothers shared a two-bedroom flat above the shop their parents had taken over.

The values of entrepreneurialism, self-reliance and education were drilled into Javid, a self-confessed “naughty” school boy. His mother would take her sons to the library on a Saturday morning and tell them to read the books, as they weren’t going anywhere else.

“That’s what got me into reading,” the home secretary told one interviewer. “It probably wasn’t the most positive way to do it. But there you go.”

Britain’s newly appointed Home Secretary Sajid Javid arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, May 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Javid’s father — whose 24/7 work ethic earned him the nickname “Mr. Night and Day” — had little sympathy for the unions which dominated Britain in the 1970s and the strikes which frequently crippled the country.

“If these people want to get paid more why don’t they work harder,” he would tell his son. Like millions of other Labour-voting, working-class Britons, Abdul voted for Margaret Thatcher in 1979.

Javid acquired his father’s Thatcherite politics and adopted his heroine’s go-getting philosophy. At age 14, he arranged a £500 loan from Abdul’s bank manager to invest in the stock market and began reading the Financial Times. He dismissed his teachers’ suggestion he become a television repair man, and secured a place at Exeter University — the first member of his family to go to university.

At Exeter, he became close friends with Robert Halfon, an activist in the Union of Jewish Students and fellow leading light in the university Conservative association. Halfon later became political director of Conservative Friends of Israel and is now a senior Tory backbencher and vocal supporter of Israel in parliament.

Rejected for a job in the City of London — “let’s just say the [interview] panel made it pretty clear my face wasn’t going to fit in there,” he later  recounted — Javid instead went to work for Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. By 25, he had become the bank’s youngest-ever vice president. He later joined the board of Deutsche Bank, where he made his millions.

Sajid Javid seated right, and China’s Minister Gao Hucheng sign an agreement as former British prime minister David Cameron, background right, and China’s President Xi Jinping look on, at 10 Downing Street, in London, Wednesday, October 21, 2015. (Suzanne Plunkett/Pool Photo via AP)

Javid’s ascent in politics has been as rapid as it was in banking. Four years after entering parliament in 2010, David Cameron appointed him to the cabinet as culture secretary. He was later promoted to business secretary. As a close ally of former chancellor George Osborne, an archenemy of May, many thought Javid would be fired when the prime minister entered Downing Street in 2016. Instead, she shifted him sideways to run the Communities and Local Government department.

Last week, with her government rocked by a scandal over its treatment of British citizens who came to the UK from Commonwealth countries after the war, May turned to the son of Pakistani immigrants to clear up the mess.

Although on the right of the Tory party on economic issues, Javid is socially liberal and backed the introduction of gay marriage. Taking charge of a sprawling department which is responsible for fighting terrorism, tackling crime and securing the UK’s borders, he has promised a less hardline approach on immigration than that favored by May, who ran the Home Office during Cameron’s premiership.

‘There is only one place I could possibly go — Israel’

Javid’s path — both socioeconomic and political — is one with which many British Jews are familiar, and perhaps helps account for the rapport he appears to have struck up with the community.

Two years after becoming an MP, Javid stole the show at the Conservative Friends of Israel Annual Lunch when he delivered a passionate paean to the Jewish state.

“I am a proud, British-born Muslim, and I love my country more than any other place on earth,” he began, before declaring that, if he had to go and live in the Middle East, he would not choose Dubai, with “its vibrant city life and soaring skyscrapers,” nor Saudi Arabia, “a fabulously wealthy nation and the birthplace of the holy Prophet Mohammed.”

Swiss Federal President Johann Schneider-Ammann, right, is welcomed on stage to make a pledge by Sajid Javid during the ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London, Thursday, February 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

“There is only one place I could possibly go,” he continued, “[to] Israel. The only nation in the Middle East that shares the same democratic values as Britain. And the only nation in the Middle East where my family would feel the warm embrace of freedom and liberty.”

“For a British Muslim, this was an extraordinary and courageous intervention in the world of Israel advocacy,” noted the Jewish Chronicle’s political editor.

Indeed, so well did Javid’s speech go down with CFI’s audience that when one guest suggested the young MP might be a future prime minister, another reportedly replied: “Of Britain, or Israel?”

Nor has Javid pulled his punches in the intervening years. In each department in which he has landed, the pugnacious minister has proven himself a dogged supporter of Israel and enemy of its detractors. As the director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding griped when Javid was promoted to the Cabinet in 2014: “His overly pro-Israel stance will bring into question his ethical judgement given Israel’s appalling human rights record.”

At times, Javid appears to relish the opportunity to stick it to Israel’s opponents. Last September, when addressing a World Jewish Congress meeting in London, he delivered a none-too-subtle riposte to Palestinian demands that Britain use the 100th anniversary of its adoption to apologize for the Balfour Declaration.

“To apologize for the Balfour Declaration would be to apologize for the existence of Israel and to question its right to exist,” Javid responded. “Here in Britain we will not merely mark the centenary, we will celebrate it with pride.”

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing, left, with Karen Bradley Secretay of State for Northern Ireland, Amber Rudd Home Secretary, Labour MP Diane Abbott, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, second right and Labour MP Dawn Butler, right, watch the unveiling a statue of Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square, London, Tuesday, April 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

BDS: A media campaign full of sound and fury

For good measure, he also launched a characteristic barrage at the BDS movement.

“For all its bluster, the BDS campaign is most notable I think, for its lack of success. Trade is booming, tourism is soaring. The media campaign is full of sound and fury, but to the majority of Britain today it signifies nothing,” he suggested.

Javid concluded with what sounded like a challenge to his critics: “As long as I’m in government, as long as I’m in politics, I will do everything in my power to fight back against those who seek to undermine Israel.”

Few could dispute that the new home secretary has lived up to that commitment.

Last year, he used his post as communities secretary to announce a crackdown on local councils which try to impose boycotts of Israel. At the Business Department, Javid hailed a “golden era” for trade between Israel and the UK, and, offering a free-market twist on an old kibbutz slogan, praised Israel for making “business boom in the barren desert.”

And, as culture secretary, he attacked a London theater’s decision in 2014 to boycott the UK Jewish Film Festival because it had been sponsored by the Israeli Embassy.

“The moment I heard about the … ban I knew I couldn’t just let it go,” he later told the Union of Jewish Students’ annual conference. Pledging to always “stand up and resist calls for boycotts of Israel,” he denounced them as “nothing more than a smokescreen for the oldest hatred.”

Javid’s speech to UJS was perhaps one of the most pro-Israel speeches delivered by a British minister in recent years. Its mockery of those who back BDS while professing to support artistic freedom — “but only if it’s not backed by Israel … but not for Jews” — was combined with a moving account of visiting Auschwitz for the first time with schoolchildren from his constituency. Javid also made clear that his loathing of anti-Semitism has, in part, been shaped by his own experience of racism.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, London, Wednesday May 2, 2018, with Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, right, and new Home Secretary Sajid Javid, 2nd right. (PA via AP)

Javid has led the fight against anti-Semitism from the front during his two-year stint as communities secretary. His department has pumped money into initiatives to tackle hate crime, including a new project led by the Holocaust Educational Trust, to, as Javid put it, “tackle prejudice and intolerance on university campuses” by funding student trips to Auschwitz.

His condemnation of “dinner party anti-Semites” who “can’t condemn the murder of Jewish children in France without a caveat criticizing the Israeli government” and calls for people to challenge anti-Jewish hatred — “ultimately, we have to be prepared to do that most un-British of things; we have to make a scene” — have earned him plaudits from leading communal figures.

In recent weeks, Javid has spearheaded the government’s response to the allegations of anti-Semitism which have roiled the Labour paty. Last month, he led a high-profile parliamentary debate in which he accusedLabour leader Jeremy Corbyn of “a deeply worrying lack of leadership and moral clarity” on the issue.

An easy target for hate speech

Javid’s politics, religion and race have made him a target for both the far right and the hard left.

“If you have a look online you’ll find no shortage of people saying that because my parents were born in Pakistan, I must be some kind of Homeland-style Al-Qaeda sleeper agent,” he quipped to the Community Security Trust in 2015.

In March, he was one of five Muslim MPs targeted as part of a racist “Punish a Muslim” campaign. Married to a Christian, Javid is not a practicing Muslim but does not hesitate to speak of his pride at his Muslim “heritage.”

His appointment as Home Secretary appeared to set off a new barrage of abuse from hard left activists who used the racial slurs “coconut” and “Uncle Tom” to attack him. Some specifically focused on his support for Israel. “You Ain’t No Muslim, Bruv. Only the Tories could appoint an aggressive Zionist as the 1st Muslim Home Secretary,” declared one Internet meme.

“This is what Muslims who do not ‘conform’ to regressive views get — abuse, bigotry and hate,” Tweeted the Muslim hate-crime charity, Tell MAMA in response.

Sajid Javid, center, leaves after a meeting with Tata Steel executives amid reports that the Indian conglomerate is prepared to sell some of its UK plants, in Mumbai, India, Friday, July 8, 2016. (AP Photo/ Rajanish Kakade )

Javid himself angrily challenged Corbyn this week in parliament to denounce the attacks, saying they were part of the same “hostile environment” which had allowed anti-Semitism to flourish in the party.

Trial by fire?

The Home Secretary’s pro-Israel credentials will face an early test in his new department. Next month sees the annual Al Quds Day march in central London. Last year’s event — where pro-Palestinian activists carriedHezbollah flags and chanted anti-Semitic slogans — sparked fury in the Jewish community and a campaign to stop similar occurrences in the future.

Britain currently only proscribes Hezbollah’s military wing. This allowed marchers to escape arrest for carrying the terror group’s flag by saying they were demonstrating their support for its political wing.

Lobbying by both Labour and Conservative MPs calling for Hezbollah to be banned in its entirety has thus far been rebuffed by the Home Office. During a parliamentary debate on the issue in January secured by the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, Joan Ryan, the government’s stance was supported by the opposition frontbench.

Last month, London’s Labour mayor, Sadiq Khan, who has also supported the campaign to bar Hezbollah, urged Javid’s predecessor, Amber Rudd, to use the Home Secretary’s powers to ban the march altogether, suggesting it was “unacceptable that through the heart of our city, we have got people marching whose flags and slogans cause distress to Londoners of Jewish faith.”

Javid has now become the focus of campaigners, with both the Labour MP Louise Ellman, a vice-chair of LFI, and the Conservative backbencher Matthew Offord this week writing to the Home Secretary to call on him to give his “personal attention” to the issue with the march barely one month away.

But while the power to proscribe Hezbollah rests with the Home Secretary, the Foreign Office — which is allegedly keen to keep open channels with “moderate” elements in the terror group — is likely to be resistant to any such move.

If Javid decides to act, it will not just be his commitment, but also his Whitehall street-fighting skills that will be tested to the full.

Journalist and writer Robert Philpot is the former editor of Progress magazine and is now a contributing editor to it. He previously served as a special adviser in the Northern Ireland Office and Cabinet Office.


Israel gives HRW director two weeks to leave country

May 9, 2018

Israel has given a Human Rights Watch director two weeks to leave the country, accusing him of promoting a boycott, in a move the rights group said sought to muzzle criticism.

© AFP/File | Israel accused Human Rights Watch’s local director of supporting the campaign to boycott the country

The interior ministry said Tuesday it had terminated the residency permit of HRW’s Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir, a US citizen, over accusations that he supported a boycott of Israel.

Image result for Omar Shakir, photos

Omar Shakir

“Following the recommendations of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, containing information that Shakir has been a BDS activist for years supporting the boycott of Israel in an active way, the ministry has decided to terminate (his) residence permit,” the interior ministry said in a statement.

Israeli officials have clamped down on groups seen as supporting the global campaign for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions), which aims to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories.

HRW has written several critical reports about the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Israel’s government, seen as the most right-wing in the country’s history, has been accused of putting pressure on both international and local rights organisations.

Shakir, who received permission to work in Israel in April 2017, months after being barred from the country, now has 14 days to leave, the New York-based rights group said.

“This is not about Shakir, but rather about muzzling Human Rights Watch and shutting down criticism of Israel’s rights record,” HRW said in a statement.

“Neither Human Rights Watch nor its representative, Shakir, promotes boycotts of Israel.”

Team Obama’s smear machine-in-exile mobilizes to destroy Iran-deal critics — Politics of personal destruction seems Un-American

March 30, 2018
 New York Post

“John Bolton is at the nexus of Russia’s interference in our democracy and the NRA’s reckless agenda”: The sentence is so bonkers, so pristine in its conspiratorial insanity that it should one day grace a Museum of Natural History exhibit on early-21st century US politics.

Yet it wasn’t from an anonymous troll, or some Hollywood figure with tons of followers but little common sense. It was tweeted by National Security Action — an outfit run by former top Obama officials.

Described by The Washington Post as a “political strike force,” this NSA is a coterie of veterans from the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, acting as a shadow government to weaponize foreign-policy disputes. It’s a fever-swamp-in-exile.

And it exemplifies everything that’s wrong with top Democrats’ partisan madness in the Age of Trump.

The co-chairs are Ben Rhodes and Jake Sullivan. Rhodes, you’ll recall, was the reckless novice Barack Obama made a top adviser and who proceeded to create what he called an “echo chamber” of lies, distortions and spin about the Iran nuclear deal for pro-Obama reporters and think-tankers to regurgitate.

Sullivan’s presence atop a conspiracist machine is more troubling. Unlike Rhodes, he’s knowledgeable, experienced and inclined to public service. Had Clinton won the 2016 election, Sullivan would’ve been the frontrunner for national-security adviser — the post to which Bolton has just been named.

What’s up with this Bolton/Russia stuff, anyway? It’s all based on the fact that Bolton was asked in 2013 by the then-NRA president to record a pro-gun rights statement for a Russian organization. For that, Sullivan’s group accuses Bolton of being “at the nexus of Russia’s interference in our democracy”? Is Jake Sullivan really comfortable with this?

Or, for that matter, is former Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who serves on the National Security Action advisory council? What about Tom Donilon, who held Bolton’s job under Obama? Susan Rice and Samantha Power, who, like Bolton, are previous US ambassadors to the United Nations? They, too, serve on the advisory council.

If you want to understand what’s behind this rabid partisanship, two other members of the council make more sense: Joe Cirincione and Wendy Sherman. Cirincione is a key member of the “echo chamber.” He’s president of the Ploughshares Fund, a leftist group that, in the years leading up to the nuke deal, funded media (including National Public Radio) and nuclear “experts” to whom it distributed talking points on the nuke deal intended to sell the Obama administration’s party line.

Sherman was the chief negotiator of the Iran deal.

And Bolton hates the nuke deal and wants President Trump to scrap it. His opposition stems mostly from the fact that it’s a disastrous mess that legitimized Iran’s program, knifed US allies — and unchained Tehran’s terror squads with an infusion of cash and a willingness by Obama to look the other way as they bloodied up the Middle East.

It’s a national embarrassment. Rhodes, Cirincione and Sherman couldn’t be prouder of it.

And that’s really what’s going on. The smear of Bolton by Team Obama is the echo chamber reverberating to save its legacy project.

In The New York Times this week, Sherman excoriated Bolton as a warmonger for wanting to tear up the deal: “The march to military conflict will be hard to stop, especially with Mr. Bolton leading the National Security Council.” With the deal in place, Iran won’t build nukes, because . . . the mullahs pinky-swore: “Iran has committed to never obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

As absurd as this sounds, it’s a key talking point: If you don’t like the deal, you want war, and anyway Iran promised.

On Tuesday, Ernest Moniz, the Obama energy secretary also involved in nuke-deal talks, wrote in The Boston Globe: “The core of the Iran agreement is an explicit commitment from Iran that it will never seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons.”

Chiming in to Politico was Sullivan, warning, “It is very difficult to overestimate the potential danger that John Bolton could put us in.”

These former Obama advisers think they’re protecting one legacy, but really they’re creating a separate one. In their willingness to cross any line to slime public officials who differ, they are encouraging the public to reinterpret their time in office not as a highminded search for truth and security but as a series of partisan exercises soaked in the politics of personal destruction.

Twitter: @SethAMandel

Why can’t Israel make peace? Because Palestinian elites have no interest in doing so

February 21, 2018

Enjoying the good life themselves, Palestinian leaders have created a misrepresentation of their people as ‘the wretched on earth.’ It’s a recipe for endless conflict

Jordan's King Abdullah II (right) speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II (right) speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas upon his arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 7, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

This article is excerpted from Ben-Dror Yemini’s new book, Industry of Lies: Media, Academia, and the Israeli-Arab Conflict, published by ISGAP.

We must admit that there is no chance for peace in the foreseeable future.

It’s not that the solution is complicated. Despite the disagreements, despite the fantasy of mass Return, and despite the isolated settlements, there are clear parameters for peace. Bill Clinton presented them in late 2000; the Geneva plan presented a similar plan in 2002; Ehud Olmert repeated it, with semantic changes, in 2008; John Kerry introduced two versions with almost the same parameters in 2014. Even the Arab initiative, if we take away the fantasy of mass Return, could have been the basis for an agreement.

Although the parameters are known, peace cannot be achieved.

In the past century there have been many conflicts. Almost every actualization of the right to self-determination created a bloody conflict, years of struggle, and the expulsion of populations. Yet, eventually, agreements were reached. Enemies have become neighbors. Peace agreements have also been signed between Israel and two Arab states — Egypt and Jordan, and Israel maintains cooperation with many other Arab states.

So why this should not have happened in the Israeli Palestinian conflict? Because it has another dimension, which was absent in other conflicts. The Palestinian elites have reached a status that no elite had before. The Palestinian struggle is not one more struggle.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, then-US President George Bush, and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in Annapolis, Maryland in 2007. (Courtesy Ian Black)

It became the most famous, most celebrated, and the most prestigious of all — the crown jewel of causes. The Palestinian refusal to accept any peace proposal is not only due to historical reasons or a sense of injustice. It is not about more or less concessions. It stems from the fact that the Palestinian elites only benefit from the continuation of the conflict. The Palestinians have become not only the ultimate global symbol of a “victim” and an “oppressed people,” who are supposedly fighting against colonialism and occupation. They have become global celebrities.

On the one hand, members of the Palestinian elite come and leave the capitals of the world dressed in the most tailored and fashionable of men’s apparel. They enjoy the good life. On the other hand, they succeed in creating a misrepresentation of “the wretched on earth.”

According to any objective measure of life expectancy, infant mortality, natural increase, education, and so forth, the Palestinians are not in the worst shape among the world’s needy populations. Just the opposite. Most people in the world live in much worse circumstances. But they are not in the headlines. No one is demonstrating for them. The claim that those who identify with the Palestinians are concerned with human rights is one of the most ridiculous claims of the present era; supporters of the Palestinian struggle are, after all, not bothered by the tens of millions who suffer from internal or external oppression.

* * *

Let’s imagine a student from northern Nigeria on an American campus. He represents one of the most miserable communities in the world, suffering from non-stop Jihadist terrorism of Boko Haram: thousands have been massacred; 1.4 million children have become refugees, 100,000 of them on the verge of starvation. But nobody cares about them. There are no demonstrations. No global protest. No conferences. Nigeria is not included in the latest buzz words about oppression. Yet, for many, Israel has become representative of all other injustices in the world, in addition to one’s own as an African-American, woman, or homosexual, as illustrated by the phenomenon of intersectionality.

An image taken from a video released on August 14, 2014 by the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram purportedly shows dozens of girls kidnapped by the group in 2014. (screen capture: YouTube)

In any case, the world stage is dominated by the Palestinians. Couple this with intersectionality, and it ensures that countless opponents of injustice half way across the world will be aligning themselves against “the oppressor Israel.” It doesn’t help that “colonialism,” one of the magic words in post modern discourse, can, through selective interpretation and a web of lies, be used to tag Israel as an oppressor. It is a little difficult to use the word “colonialist” against the Jihadists even if they have extreme imperialist ambitions.

Not only is there no worldwide protest against the Jihad affiliates, there is even support for those who champion an anti-Semitic, fascist, and murderous ideology. Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo displayed his stripes in the middle of the 2014 Gaza War, declaring “shoot those bastard Zionists,” encouraging the Europeans to buy weapons for Hamas, and arguing that “Israel is worse than the Nazis.” The feminist organization Code Pink organized no less than seven solidarity missions to Gaza, meeting with Hamas members (never mind that the mufti of Gaza tells male viewers how to beat their wives without leaving scars that would make them ugly or alert the police).

Then there are high-profile entertainers, such as the aging British rocker and lead singer from Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, who compares Israel to Nazi Germany and supports BDS, or British film director Ken Loach, who called for a cultural boycott of Israel. Even if they don’t convince their fellow artists, who keep on coming to Israel, they still encourage the Palestinian elites to keep on with the struggle against Israel instead of fighting for peace.

British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during a meeting of the Party of European Socialists in Brussels, on October 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/John Thys)

There is a whole chapter in the work at hand about major producers in the industry of lies, such as academic Noam Chomsky, who made a pilgrimage to visit Hezbollah leader Nasrallah in Lebanon; UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who embraced Hamas and Hezbollah as his “friends”; Judith Butler, who turned them into progressive bodies; and Canadian writer Naomi Klein, who cuts Hamas out of the equation when attacking Israel as the aggressor in the 2014 Gaza War.

British musician Roger Waters of Pink Floyd. (AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL)

There are even some academics who have turned their anti Israel positions into a career— such as Norman Finkelstein, a highly visible figure on the lecture circuit, as well as a talented and highly entertaining speaker who attracts droves of students on campuses around the world, and elsewhere.

Individual academics are not the only ones who participate in the industry of lies, and MESA (the Middle East Studies Association in the United States) presidents are not the only supporters of BDS. The same evil spirit extends to campus life — awash in anti Israel “academic gatherings.”

With all the big bucks flowing in, with no strings attached, what are the chances that Palestinian activists will give up this abundance of status, honor, prestige and jobs?

For example, at University College Cork Ireland in April 2017, a three-day academic conference was held under the heading “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy Exceptionalism and Responsibility.” Speakers pilloried Israel as an exception to the world order (as if it was the only nation state) in order to deliberate whether Israel could legitimately exist as such an exception. The keynote speaker was Richard Falk, who used the occasion to charge that the foundation of Israel was “the most successful terror campaign in history.” There was actually a conference slated to take place in the UK at the University of Southampton (but prohibited at the last-minute by campus authorities on “health and safety concerns”) devoted to the question “does Israel have the right to exist.” No such conference was contemplated to discuss England’s right to exist, of course.

UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk (photo credit: UN Watch)

Richard Falk (photo credit: UN Watch)

Some Israel bashing gatherings take place under a cloak of polite respectability such as a July 2017 two-day conference at the University of Sydney in Australia, called “BDS: Driving Global Justice for Palestine,” hosted by none other than the Department for Peace and Conflict Studies. The use of benign language is disarming: the objective of the gathering was to promote “greater public understanding of the BDS campaign,” which, the organizers stressed, would be devoted to “harness rational argument to support a more peaceful and more just world.” (One needs to understand the subtext of “a just world”: it includes a Palestinian right of return, demanded by Students for Justice in Palestine, in order to rectify Israel’s alleged ethnic cleansing.)

This intellectual disease extends to the American political arena, where anti Israel currents have gained a foothold within the Democratic Party, reflected in a one-sided amendment to the Middle East plank of the Democratic platform, suggested by Bernie Sanders’ people, that was rejected by a narrow margin of 95 to 73, as well as the rising popularity of movers and shakers with strong anti Israel orientations, such as Keith Ellison and Linda Sarsour.

The problem is that the Palestinians read such undercurrents as proof that they are on a winning streak, at least in terms of the Democratic Party, giving them no reason to rethink their positions or seek reconciliation.

The limelight as a livelihood

Palestinians are riding a wave of support from celebrities in a host of professions, including academia, with few, if any, strings attached.

It is not only the Palestinian leadership that enjoys ideological and moral support. Dozens of Palestinian or pro Palestinian organizations receive extensive financial support from dozens of celebrated foundations and political structures: the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundation (George Soros), the European Union, individual European countries, and church funds. Then, of course, there is UNRWA and other United Nations funding entities.

With all the big bucks flowing in, with no strings attached, what are the chances that Palestinian activists will give up this abundance of status, honor, prestige and jobs? Is it at all surprising that Palestinian activists of such well-funded NGOs are against reconciliation and peace?

The Palestinians’ special status as the blue-eyed boy everyone embraces creates some very strange anomalies. Palestinian activists stand shoulder to shoulder with LGBT activists, although everyone knows — or should know — that members of the LGBT community in the Palestinian territories are at severe risk, facing persecution and often mortal danger. As a result, many prefer to flee to Israel.

Too many Palestinians have a huge vested interest in intransigence and violence

These are the facts, but anti Israel demonstrations are also held under the charge of “pink washing” — the idiotic theory stating that Israel grants freedom and rights to people of different sexual orientations only as a mask to conceal the horrors of the occupation. Thus, members of the Palestinian and anti Israel elites have succeed not only in disseminating ridiculous theories, but also in obtaining an exemption from violations of basic human rights for Palestinian authorities. This is another expression of racism of low expectations.

Palestinian women chant slogans as they hold Palestinian flags during a sit-in in the Bourj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp, in Beirut, Lebanon, December 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

There are Palestinians who suffer. These are mainly those in Lebanon, who experience apartheid (subject to separate laws) with all its implications, or those in Syria who suffer, together with the rest of the Syrian population, from terrible bloodshed. They can only dream to live under Israeli rule. Yet, they do not interest anyone because they are not under Israeli control.

Under Israeli rule, on the other hand, the Palestinians in the territories enjoy the highest rate of higher education in the Arab world. In fact, the rise in the level of education has led to the emigration of tens of thousands of young Palestinians to Europe and the United States, subsequently eligible for graduate studies in the most prestigious universities (hundreds of them subsequently became faculty).

Industry of Lies, by Ben-Dror Yemini

In an era dominated by a postcolonial school of thought, the Palestinians have become the icon for struggle against colonialism. If the symbol in the 1960s was Che Guevara, the contemporary symbol is to sport a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf.

There are a thousand and one rivalries between student organizations that represent different groups, but they are united about one subject: their support for the Palestinians, with no knowledge about the conflict. Instead of focusing their efforts on the rights of African-Americans, the Black Lives Matter movement has become fixated on Israel, even accusing the Jewish state of the events in Ferguson. There will always be Jews and Israelis to tell them that Israel is the source of their troubles. In the past, it was said that Jews were the source of global evil. Today, it is said that Zionists are the source of every evil.

This is the madness consuming the free and academic world. This distortion does not support peace, reconciliation, or compromise. The common denominator of these bodies, which are supported by academia and funded by the EU and various other foreign governments, is usually their opposition to the very existence of Israel. It is doubtful whether there is one body among them that supports peace and reconciliation and that is funded by the same sources.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops following protests against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Does this encourage the Palestinian elites towards reconciliation with Israel, or does it encourage them to perpetuate the struggle? And if this is the position of the progressive elites of the free world, why would a rational Palestinian change direction and support reconciliation and compromise? Why should any of the Palestinians give up the special status they now enjoy that bundles together victimhood, prestige, legitimacy for all their actions, economic benefit and a comfortable livelihood?

A peace agreement would undermine this special status. Instead of talking about racism and colonialism, instead of being the stars of academia and the darlings of the progressive elites, and instead of enjoying generous funding as activists against oppression, the Palestinians will have to worry about welfare, sewage systems, and building a state. They will have to take responsibility for themselves and their fate. They will stop receiving tens of millions of dollars each year for political struggle. They will not be the stars of the campuses. That is the last thing they want.

They have succeeded in convincing many intellectual circles in the world that BDS is a “nonviolent movement” against racism and for equal rights. There is no greater lie than that. The BDS movement is fighting to deny the right of self-determination of one state among all the countries of the world: Israel.

What should rational and decent people do?

What can rational and decent people do against this mind-boggling phenomenon?

First, expose the absurdities. Do not give in to the thought police. Maintain independent and critical thinking, connected to reality. Make a hierarchy of global injustices. The Alice in Wonderland-like lunacy that is taking place in significant sectors of the academic and media elites is not a problem for Israel. It is a problem of the free world. This is fake knowledge that produces fake realities.

The attention, top priority, aide and grants underwrites an entire sector of the economy and society that “makes a living from the conflict” — from elite Palestinian leaders flying around the world in first class and elegant suits to academics paid to write a flood of studies on the feasibility of the right of return, to tunnel operators in Gaza, and families who depend on stipends for sons killed in terrorist attacks (shahids).

Palestinian women take part in a protest in Gaza City on January 29, 2018, against the US move to freeze funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

The Palestinian public sector is gigantic, and the bonanza of cheap money as the world’s favorite humanitarian cause is reflected on the landscape in the West Bank — glass clad skyscrapers and public institutions, private villas, and virtual mansions that Westerners rarely see. The Pan-Arab paper Asharq al Awsat in London investigated the phenomenon and concluded that there are 600 millionaires in Gaza! Too many Palestinians have a huge vested interest in intransigence and violence.

There is a conflict of interest between rewarded Palestinian elites who want to perpetuate the conflict, and the Palestinian masses who suffer from the conflict. Reaching a peace agreement would lead, for example, to reducing the distress of the Palestinians in Lebanon who are legally, socially and geographically marginalized. They will not be able to return to Israel because Israel has no plans to commit demographic suicide, but they will receive new options, such as an international compensation fund, naturalization in some countries, options for returning to the Palestinian entity, and more. When the elites perpetuate the fantasy of the right of return, they perpetuate the continuation of suffering and plight.

It is possible and necessary to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict. The outlines are known. There is not much to innovate. For this to happen, it is permissible and, indeed, necessary to criticize Israeli policy. But this will not happen as long as a widespread and well oiled academic and political apparatus provides the Palestinian elites with honor, money and prestige that perpetuate the conflict.

This march of folly must be stopped. Not to harm the Palestinians, but to give them hope and to save them.

Ben-Dror Yemini is a senior journalist with the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth who lectures about the spread and impact of anti-Israel propaganda.

Israel to Deny Tax Breaks, Government Bids From Local Groups Calling for Boycott — Blacklists Being Compiled

February 16, 2018


Implementation would require compiling a ‘blacklist’ of Israeli boycott supporters, sources say, on top of an existing list of foreign activists and groups

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is set to approve in the coming days new regulations to prevent organizations and individuals who support a boycott of Israel from receiving various tax breaks or from participating in government bids. The new regulation will apply to Israeli citizens too.

Officials in the Strategic Affairs Ministry – which initiated and wrote the draft version of the regulations on the basis of Israel’s boycot law – expect a list of Israeli citizens and organizations who support BDS may be compiled, alongside the existing list of foreign groups that promote BDS.

Israel published in January a list of organizations whose activists will be barred from entering the country.

But Strategic Affairs Ministry officials said such a list for local groups and activists does not yet exist, and if and when the new regulations are approved, an inter-ministerial team will begin work on it under the supervision of legal advisers.

Finance Ministry officials said that anyone who is to be sanctioned under any new regulations would first be summoned for a hearing on the matter.

Israeli law does not distinguish between a call to boycott West Bank settlements and Israel proper. However it will be up to the inter-ministerial team to decide which group and activists will be included in list.

Sources in the Strategic Affairs Ministry said that the effort would focus on central groups and activists – including Israelis – and not on people who are critical of Israel and believe Israel should be boycotted.

The move would prevent them from receiving benefits from the government or government contracts and jobs, said the officials. They said a “blacklist” would be complied of Israelis that head a non-government organization or another group that advocates the boycott of Israel.

The ministry is also working to advance an amendment to the Boycott Prevention Law that would allow the filing of civil lawsuits against boycott activists and organizations, the officials added.

Last year, Kahlon said he would act to deny charitable tax deductions for Israelis who make donations to Amnesty International, according to the Boycott Prevention Law.

Kahlon decided to take action against Amnesty International for a campaign in the summer of 2017, titled, “Israel’s Occupation: 50 Years of Dispossession,” marking the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War. The group called on its website to boycott West Bank settlement produce.

This was the first time the government implemented the controversial law, passed in 2011.

“We will use all the means at our disposal, including denying tax benefits against every organization that harms the State of Israel or IDF soldiers,” Kahlon said at the time.


Merkel: Ongoing need to protect Jewish institutions ‘a disgrace’

January 27, 2018

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, German leader warns of rising anti-Semitism in country, calls to create position of anti-Semitism commissioner

German chancellor Angela Merkel looks on after addressing the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 24, 2018 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. (AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI)

German chancellor Angela Merkel looks on after addressing the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 24, 2018 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. (AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of rising anti-Semitism in her country on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, calling the need to protect Jewish buildings “a disgrace.”

It is important to remember the millions of Holocaust victims because recently, “anti-Semitism, racism, and the hatred of others are more relevant,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast on Saturday.

She said that schools, which already teach about the country’s Nazi past, need to work harder at that, especially so immigrant students from Arab countries will not “exercise anti-Semitism.”

She called it “incomprehensible and a disgrace that no Jewish institution can exist without police security —whether it is a school, a kindergarten, or a synagogue.”

The chancellor also reaffirmed her support of creating the position of anti-Semitism commissioner in the next German government, if her party can finalize tortuous negotiations to forge a coalition.

The commissioner would be appointed to counter growing hate speech against Jews and Israel in German from both its home-grown far-right and some recent migrants in the Muslim community.

Israeli flags were burned in Berlin in December to protest the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The United Nations in 2007 designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to mark the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death camps.



Merkel warns of rising anti-Semitism on Holocaust Day — “It is inconceivable and shameful that no Jewish institution can exist without police protection”

January 27, 2018


© AFP/File | German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “it is inconceivable and shameful that no Jewish institution can exist without police protection”

BERLIN (AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of rising anti-Semitism in her country on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, calling the need to protect Jewish buildings “shameful”.It is important to remember the millions of Holocaust victims because “anti-Semitism, racism and the hatred of others are more relevant” recently, Merkel said in her weekly podcast on Saturday.

“It is inconceivable and shameful that no Jewish institution can exist without police protection, whether it is a school, a kindergarten or a synagogue,” she said.

The chancellor also reaffirmed her support of creating the position of anti-Semitism commissioner in the next German government, if her party can finalise tortuous negotiations to forge a coalition.

The commissioner would be appointed to counter growing hate speech against Jews and Israel in German from both its home-grown far-right and some recent migrants in the Muslim community.

Israeli flags were burnt in Berlin in December to protest the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The United Nations in 2007 designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to mark the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death camps.

Israel’s Project To Fights Against ‘Delegitimization’

January 9, 2018

Among the shareholders are former UN ambassador Dore Gold and ex-generals Amos Yadlin and Yaakov Amidror. The new initiative will not be subject to the Freedom of Information Law

By Noa Landau Jan 09, 2018 3:26 PM

Netanyahu and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, during the Carmel Mountain fires

Netanyahu and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, during the Carmel Mountain fires Emil Salman

The Strategic Affairs Ministry has set up a public-benefit corporation to engage in what it calls “mass awareness activities” as part of “the struggle against the delegitimization campaign” against Israel internationally.

Haaretz has obtained a list of the shareholders and directors of the company, Kella Shlomo, who include former Israeli ambassadors to the United Nations.

The government recently allocated 128 million shekels ($37 million) to the initiative, in addition to the 128 million shekels it will raise from private donors around the world.

The new initiative will not be subject to the Freedom of Information Law, in accordance with the secrecy policy of the ministry, which refuses to release detailed information about its activities.

The shareholders and directors include former ministry director general Yossi Kuperwasser; former UN ambassador Dore Gold, who is also a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and former UN ambassador Ron Prosor.

Reuven Rivlin with Amos Yadlin. Mark Neiman

Reuven Rivlin with Amos Yadlin.
Reuven Rivlin with Amos Yadlin. Mark Neiman

FILE PHOTO: Protestors march behind a banner of the BDS organization in Marseille, southern France, on June 13, 2015

FILE PHOTO: Protestors march behind a banner of the BDS organization in Marseille, southern France, on June 13, 2015George Robert / AP

They also include businessman Micah Avni, whose father, Richard Lakin, was killed in a 2015 terror attack in Jerusalem; Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, who heads the Institute for National Security Studies; and Col. (res.) Miri Eisin, who served as the prime minister’s adviser on the foreign press during the Second Lebanon War.


Also on the list are a former National Security Council chief, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, and Sagi Balasha, a former CEO of the Israeli-American Council, which has casino magnate Sheldon Adelson as a major supporter.

Most refused to discuss the initiative and referred questions to the office of Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan.

The most recent data from the Companies Authority shows that the last report the company submitted to the authority came this past October. On December 28, the cabinet approved an allocation of 128 million shekels to the company over three years. The decision to provide the funding was made by the special procedure under which a government resolution is distributed to the ministers and goes into effect automatically if no one objects or demands a discussion.

According to the government resolution, the funding was granted “to implement part of the ministry’s activities related to the struggle against the phenomena of delegitimization and boycotts against the State of Israel.” It says the agency will work to raise its portion of the financing for the initiative (around half) from “philanthropic sources” or “pro-Israel organizations.” A steering committee will be appointed for the initiative to comprise government representatives and representatives of the other funding partners.

Ron Prosor at the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon oath ceremony forr his appointment as the Secretary-General of the United Nations for second term
Ron Prosor at the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon oath ceremony forr his appointment as the Secretary-General of the United Nations for second term.  Credit Shachar Ezran

Itamar Baz of the media watchdog website The Seventh Eye has been covering the Strategic Affairs Ministry, most of whose activities are concealed from the public. He reported Monday that while ministry officials have for months been advancing legislation that would exclude the company from being subject to the Freedom of Information Law, the law in any case does not apply to this new agency so its activities will be easy to hide.

He also revealed that Liat Glazer, the ministry’s legal adviser, wrote in a legal opinion that the activities conducted through the company would be “those that require ‘non-governmental’ discussions with various target audiences.”

According to a ministry document, Kella Shlomo people would work via social networks because “the enemy directs most of its awareness and motivating efforts to this area.” Similarly, the document, published by The Seventh Eye, says the organization was expected to carry out “mass awareness activities” and work to “exploit the wisdom of crowds,” an activity defined as “making new ideas accessible to decision-makers and donors in the Jewish world, and developing new tools to combat the delegitimization of Israel.”

A report in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth the day after the cabinet approved the funding described the initiative positively, saying it would “raise the level of efforts in the struggle against BDS” — the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Yedioth said the new company would “provide a speedy and coordinated response to efforts to stain Israel’s image around the world,” for example, in the event of a military operation, terror attacks or UN votes against government policies.

This would be done by launching online campaigns, lobbying, engaging organizations abroad and bringing delegations to Israel.

The Strategic Affairs Ministry declined to clarify whether the company would act in accordance with the principles of the Freedom of Information Law.

“This is a joint initiative that meets all the requirements of the law for this type of engagement and is similar to other government initiatives like Taglit [Birthright] and Masa,” the ministry said.

“In the agreement with [the company] there are distinct control procedures, as defined by the Finance Ministry and the Justice Ministry during the joint work with them on setting up the project. It will be subject to auditing by the state comptroller,” it added.

“In addition, as the ministry leading the initiative, one that attributes great importance to it as part of the campaign against the delegitimization of Israel, the ministry has allocated additional control tools and functions to what is required. Both the ministry’s legal adviser and its controller will sit on the steering committee managing the project.”

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