Monday, 12 March 2018

The Silencing of Al Jazeera - How Free Speech in the United States Fell Victim to the Zionist Lobby

When is Al Jazeera Going to Show their undercover documentary on the Israel Lobby’s Undercover Activities in the United States?

 15 months ago Al Jazeera broadcast a programme The Lobby in 4 instalments.  It led to the departure from Britain of Israeli agent Shai Masot and an apology from Israeli Ambassador, Mark Regev for the fact that an Israeli ‘diplomat’ (in fact he did not have diplomatic status but was an operative of Gilad Erdan's Ministry of Strategic Affairs) had been caught discussing how to take down the Deputy Foreign Minister Alan Duncan, a perceived Arabist.

At the same time a similar under cover documentary was being produced in the United States focussing on the Israel lobby in the United States.  It has never been shown?  Why?  Because of massive pressure that has been exerted on the Qatari government.  Richard Silverstein in the article below asks why and then the key researcher on Al Jazeera itself, Clayton Swisher puts the same question in the Jewish Forward.

The real reason why the showing of the documentary has been postponed or cancelled, at this stage we don't know, is of course the blockade of Qatar instituted in June 2017 by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other countries.   The aim of the blockade was to put an end to an independent foreign policy by Qatar. The formal demands included
  • Cutting diplomatic ties with Iran and severing ties to "terrorist” organisations i.e. Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood and anyone else who displeased the Saudis.
  • Closing a Turkish military base and halt joint military co-operation inside Qatar
  • Align with other Arab countries militarily, politically, socially and economically
  • End interference in other sovereign countries' internal affairs by not allowing criticism of them by shutting down Al Jazeera and other Qatar-funded news outlets
The last demand, to shut or clamp down on Al Jazeera was one of the key demands.  The growth of a relatively free broadcaster shining a light on the iniquities of the Arab regimes (bar Qatar itself of course) more than irritated the Saudis, the UAE, Bahrain and Dubai.  At first there was also sabre rattling militarily though that was soon dispensed with.

The fact that the West and the United States, who are up to their ears in arms deals with a regime which is guilty of multiple war crimes in Yemen, keep silent says everything you need to know about the real commitment of the West to such values as freedom of speech.

It would appear that a major documentary on the Israel lobby in the United States had become a casualty of a blockade that Donald Trump, though not his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, supported.  Qatar’s response has been to try and win over the Zionist lobby in the United States.
Qatar has flown prominent Zionists such as Professor Alan Dershowitz o Harvard University and Mort Klein of the Zionist Organisation of America to Doha.  See Qatar turns to Israel to escape Saudi squeeze Although Netanyahu did his best to actually shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel, such is his commitment to free speech on Israel, other Zionists have proved more amenable but for a price.  Either way it is a sordid affair.

The casualty of all this has been Al Jazeera and its reputation for independence and accuracy.  In on sense, having ensured that the threatened documentary isn’t broadcast, the aims of the  blockade of Saudi Arabia have succeeded.

It is to be hoped that the Qatar authorities will have enough courage to end their censorship and enable Al Jazeera to go ahead and broadcast the documentary

Tony Greenstein
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani who is believed to have prevented the showing of Al Jazar's documentary
Al Jazeera's special investigations team has produced two astonishing documentary series on the Israel Lobby in the UK and U.S.  The former was aired to great fanfare and notoriety last year.  It revealed the deep penetration of Israeli diplomats into internal UK politics and cost at least one of those officials his job.  The Lobby filed a complaint against the series with UK media regulators, who dismissed it.
By then the documentary on the U.S. Israel Lobby was in the can and ready for airing.  But it never did.  In the past few months there has been a furious tug of war between those targeted in the documentary and their Lobby supporters in Congress and the Trump administration, and human rights and media activists lobbying for the Qatari government to air it.  So far, the Lobby appears to be winning the battle.  For months, the program has been ready to air but not received permission from the authorities.  By the way, the notion expressed by Qatari government ministers that the decision is out of their hands and rests solely with Al Jazeera is laughable.  No subject this controversial is decided solely on its journalistic merits.
The reason the documentary is even more controversial is that it has dropped into a major crisis facing Qatar.  Saudi Arabia's new boy prince, Mohammed ibn Salman, has determined to make his mark on the region by shaking up conventional thinking and acting aggressively in pursuit of Saudi interests.  So we have the disastrous siege in Yemen which has killed 50,000 Yemenis.  Next, Saudi Arabia lined up all its lackey states in a row and they all obediently declared Qatar a mortal enemy because it had the temerity to pursue a semi-independent path.  That included maintaining relations with both Iran and Turkey, who are persona non grata in Saudi eyes.
Elliott Broidy and Israeli premier Bibi Netanyahu (David Carp/Wallenberg Committee)
The Sunni Gulf alliance laid siege to Qatar and did everything short of declaring war.  The Saudis little brother in the Gulf is UAE, which has been pursuing a wide-ranging campaign to blacken Qatar.  That has included media hacks which aired offensive programming on Qatari TV which insulted the Saudis.  But it's gone much farther, sending Arab and pro-Israel American Jewish emissaries to Trump's inner circle to pressure it to advance Sunni interests, including advocating the firing of Secretary of State Tillerson.
The question is: did wealthy figures like Elliot Broidy approach Kushner and Trump et al not just at the behest of UAE; were they also coached or directed by Israel itself--or by cut-out intermediaries?  Remember, that the NSA has captured communications intercepts in which senior authorities from four countries essentially conspire to buy Jared Kushner.  So it is not at all far-fetched that Israel would approach its allies inside the U.S. Israel Lobby and organize such efforts.
Not that UAE or the Saudis especially need the Israel Lobby to do their work for them.  They already have a well-financed lobbying campaign of their own in this country.  But every friend counts and all hands help.
Jonathan Schanzer of the neo-con Israel Foundation for the Defense of Democracies 

Qatar's new best friends in U.S. Israel Lobby: Dershowitz, Hoenlein, Klein, Dermer, Rosen
The Qataris too feel they have to play this game.  To that end, their former foreign minister took a meeting with Jared Kushner and discussed a major investment in a family property that is under water financially.  Naturally the investment, had it gone forward, would have cemented a golden relationship with Donald Trump just as he became president.  But prudently, the Qataris backed out to the chagrin of Kushner.  News articles have noted that only weeks later Saudi Arabia launched its siege against Qatar.  It's no accident that Trump's first statement was one of absolute support for the Saudi position; and denunciation of the Qataris in terms that could have been written by Saudi PR flacks.
The Qatari government has also bought the services of the leading DC Republican campaign consultancy.  That firm has in turn bought American Jewish leaders and sent them on junkets to Qatar just like the ones they organize for Congress members and Senators to Israel to cement the loyalty of the American political class.  Among the bought-leaders have been Malcolm Hoenlein, Mort Klein, Jack Rosen, and Alan Dershowitz.  After their meetings with the emir they've dutifully spouted pro- Qatari talking points.  This serves Qatar's purpose by driving a wedge into the usually unified Lobby leadership.  Where most side with the blossoming bromance between Israel and Saudi Arabia and denounce Qatar as a terrorist supporter of ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, now new voices are offering an alternative point of view.
This suits the Qataris who know the Israel Lobby could wield massive force inside Congress and the administration in support of the Saudi position.  They need to chip away at that unanimity in order to blunt the attack.  Thus Dershowitz et al are useful tools of disruption for them.
Returning to the documentary: it features extensive surreptitiously recorded conversations with officials of the neocon/pro-Israel Foundation for the Defense of Democracies boasting about how closely their lobbying is coördinated with and by Israel.  A senior official, Jonathan Schanzer, explicitly says on camera that not only are positions coordinated, but that its work is financed by Israel.  That is a huge no-no in terms of U.S. law.  Any U.S. person or group financed by a foreign government must register as an agent of a foreign government (FARA).  For decades, critics of the Lobby have demanded that groups like Aipac, FDD and others should register under FARA.  Naturally, the Lobby objects strenuously.  Admitting that it is a creature of the Israeli government would not only tarnish its reputation as being a wholly homegrown American enterprise; it would also raise the dreaded specter of dual loyalty--a canard often spouted by anti-Semites claiming that American Jews owe their loyalty not to their homeland, but to a foreign power.
Doha out of where Al Jazeera operate
In actuality, most American Jews are loyal to their country.  It is only the Lobby and its most fervent adherents who are guilty of dual loyalty.  And they should be formally registered as such.
Into this titanic struggle between Qatar and the Sunni Gulf states steps the Al Jazeera documentary.  A poor lost soul seeking to find its way to viewers.  The Qataris have two conflicting considerations: they can honor press freedom and the important issues the program raises; or they can play realpolitik and do what is best for their national interests.  My cynical self knows which one is most likely to win out.  But my optimistic self hopes that they honor their commitment to the right values of justice and fairness and a free press and permit it to air.
The Lobby wants to leave nothing to chance.  That's why both the Saudiphiles and the Qatariphiles have both exerted maximum force to stop it.  Dershowitz and the other Lobby guests of the emir lobbied him to shelve the documentary.  They came away believing that he had promised to do so.  Though Qatari officials have disagreed with this assessment and made mealy-mouthed professions of support for whatever decision Al Jazeera management makes.
The Lobby Saudiphiles have also concocted a scheme in Congress demanding that the Justice Department open an investigation into whether Al Jazeera itself is an agent of a foreign power.  Thirteen water-carrying Congress members have written to AG Sessions demanding that he force Al Jazeera to do what Putin's RT has been compelled to do: to register under FARA.  The apoplexy of the Lobby is based mostly on outrage that they were hoodwinked into talking to a reporter covertly recording their conversations.  The fact that the content of those conversations proved that the Lobby is an agent of Israel is what they'd like to suppress.  Instead, they'd like to focus on their outrage that Al Jazeera engaged in what one Lobby genius called "espionage:"
“Let’s not mince words about what this was – a well-funded, professional espionage operation carried out by Qatar on American soil,” Noah Pollak, executive director of the neoconservative Committee for Israel, has stated.
A telling term to use because it implies that the Lobby itself is a stand-in for America itself; and that betraying the interests of the Lobby is the same as betraying the interests of the nation.  A ludicrous, almost insane notion.  Not to mention that Israeli officials, the Lobby itself and UAE are engaged here in even more extensive monitoring, spying and hacking of the sort they complain about regarding Al Jazeera.
AIPAC - the major Israel Lobby Group that is the spider at the centre of Israel's suborning of elected representatives  and the attack on Free Speech in the United States

We Made A Documentary Exposing The ‘Israel Lobby.’ Why Hasn’t It Run?

The Forward March 8th 2018, Clayton Swisher

You never know who you’re going to spot at the Doha Four Seasons in Qatar. So I was only somewhat surprised when I found myself standing next to Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz in the omelet line last Saturday.
It was a fortuitous meeting. Dershowitz had recently played a small role in an episode that was threatening the reputation of my long-time employer, Al Jazeera. So naturally, I leapt at the opportunity to defend it.

The circumstances of the threat were these: In 2016, the award-winning Investigative Unit I directed sent an undercover reporter to look into how Israel wields influence in America through the pro-Israel American community. But when some right wing American supporters of Israel found out about the documentary, there was a massive backlash. It was even labeled as anti-Semitic in a spate of articles.
This uproar came at a time when due to an arbitrary blockade on Qatar imposed by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Qatar had been pursuing an end to its siege by appealing to the U.S. 

According to reports, Qatar sought to offer its own side of the narrative in this conflict by hosting thought leaders, including from the American Jewish community. From reports in the Israeli press, I learned that Dershowitz had been brought to meet with the Qatari emir, and that the American Jews had brought up what they saw as Al Jazeera’s “anti-Semitism” in those meetings.

Of course, our documentary is not anti-Semitic. It is an exploration of how Israel, a foreign government, influences U.S. foreign policy.

But I decided to show it to Dershowitz to get his point of view, and I was pleased when he obliged.
I have no problem with any of the secret filming,” Mr. Dershowitz told me after watching nearly half of the documentary. “And I can even see this being broadcast on PBS. What I do take issue with is the lack of balance this program has, for example, not having a voice like me.” [Editor’s note: When asked about this by The Forward, Dershowitz said he did not specifically ask to be in the documentary himself, and that he brought up PBS for its use of undercover reporters.]

I understood Dershowitz’s remarks as a qualified seal of approval, which heartened me. And yet, our documentary has now been elevated to the center of an international scandal, with Al Jazeera’s reputation in America seemingly hanging in the balance.

Indeed, if the documentary doesn’t air soon, it might prove to be the ammunition sought by a group of zealous U.S. politicians who wish to declare Al Jazeera a foreign entity, and label us journalists as “spies.”
Since moving to Qatar in 2007, my professional life has been devoted to creating Al Jazeera’s first professional investigative unit, leading a team of committed journalists striving to challenge conventional wisdom rather than report the obvious. I am proud of how in such a short span of time, since our 2011 establishment, we have broken several important stories that have dominated the global news agenda, and even changed the course of history. You might recall our “Palestine Papers” leak of confidential meeting minutes from the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations under Bush and Obama, or the investigation I led into Yasser Arafat’s death, resulting in his exhumation and the discovery of Polonium 210 in his corpse.

We have tackled a breadth of subjects and controversies, from exposing the depth of the Boeing 787’s battery problems to genocide in Myanmar to presidential corruption in the Maldives to a recent exposé on pedophilia in British youth football.

And we’ve won awards, including the Foreign Press Association, CINE Golden Eagle, One World Media, and the New York Film Festival, as well as prestigious nominations in Europe’s top contests, including BAFTA, Monte Carlo, and the Royal Television Society.

Even though our network is a private company funded by the government of Qatar, my unit operates independently and without government interference. If that weren’t the case, I have every confidence our staff — comprised of mostly British and American journalists — would walk. And rightfully so.
From time to time, when other investigative tactics won’t work, we escalate our efforts to include undercover reporters and secret filming. This practice is used by many international broadcasters, including BBC and CNN, and is carefully managed, through multiple layers of legal and editorial review, to ensure it is performed consistently with local laws, industry regulations, and our own Code of Ethics.

This tactic helped us to uncover sports doping at the highest levels of American professional athletics and, more dangerously, to expose South Africa’s illegal and gruesome rhino horn trade, which implicated the country’s own minister of state security.

It was under these auspices that our Investigative Unit placed concurrent undercover journalists in both Washington DC and London to expose the clandestine efforts of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs to counter the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.

The UK Edition of “The Lobby” aired in January 2017. We captured on hidden camera an Israeli official, Shai Masot, manipulating domestic British NGO’s and threatening to target pro-Palestinian MP’s. Masot, then a junior employee with the Israeli Embassy in London, threatened to “take down” the Foreign Office’s number two, Sir Alan Duncan, a critic of Israeli settlements. A British civil servant entertaining the plot, who we secretly recorded, was summarily dismissed.

The UK edition of “The Lobby” was of such public importance that it resulted in a formal apology from Ambassador Mark Regev. Masot resigned. Most significantly, a parliamentary inquiry was launched into foreign interference in UK foreign policy.

Frustratingly, despite all these proofs of the importance of our work, we were met with accusations of anti-Semitism. The Jewish Chronicle anonymously quoted a “communal figure” saying “the documentary revealed an ‘anti-Semitic’ mindset among those who made it.” A number of pro-Israeli activists brought complaints against us, leading to an extensive regulatory investigation by Britain’s top broadcast regulator, Ofcom. But even that investigation cleared Al Jazeera of any foul play, including anti-Semitism. The lengthy verdict, issued last October, found that our work yielded “a serious investigative documentary” that was in the public interest. “Surreptitious filming,” Ofcom confirmed, “was necessary to the credibility and authenticity of the program because without it, the program makers would have had to rely on second-hand accounts.”

We could not have agreed more. Our journalism got at the heart of the crucial question of foreign interference in the UK government, and it was of vital public interest.

It was this same question — whether the Israeli government was funding or involved in lobbying efforts in the U.S. under the guise of a domestic lobbying group — that we sought to answer in the American edition of “The Lobby.”

Nowhere are these lobbying efforts more prominent than in Washington DC, where we had a second undercover concurrently embedded to report on how the groups in America really work. We explored American pro-Israel lobbyists and their relationships with Israeli entities, like the Israeli Embassy or Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Given the high volume of footage we obtained, it took us until early autumn 2017 to carefully ready the US edition for broadcast.

After our journalism was validated and upheld by Ofcom in October, we assumed that the US edition of “The Lobby” would be aired in just a matter of weeks, as I said in a series of interviews at the time. It was to be made available in the U.S. on YouTube.

There was a final step to the process. As a UK-regulated entity, we are obliged to send formal “right to reply” letters to anyone caught on our secret cameras, which I proceeded to do in January. This late stage formality is done in every project to notify unwitting people of our intention to broadcast. These letters clearly state the essence of our findings, providing the subjects the opportunity to respond. I duly instructed our reporter to proceed with sending the letters, which he did. More than 70 letters went out.

To this day, our letters yielded only a paltry three replies. Instead we faced a spate of articles by right-wing pro-Israel news sites in America, harshly attacking our work. They came from the likes of the “Foundation for the Defense of Democracies,” whose staff was included in our secret filming, and who, according to earlier leaked emails, has aligned its pro-Israeli advocates with the United Arab Emirates government to smear Al Jazeera’s work as “an instrument of regional instability.”

Others, like Noah Pollak from the Committee for Israel, impugned our journalism as a “professional espionage operation carried out by Qatar on American soil.”

Rather than reply to our letter inviting him to challenge our findings about him, Pollak and other “leaders of Jewish American organizations” instead took meetings with the State of Qatar’s registered agent and lobbyist, a former aide to US Senator Ted Cruz named Nick Muzin, to “see if he could use his ties with the Qataris to stop the airing.”

Muzin, it seems, told them he could. In February, Muzin told Haaretz that “he was discussing the issue with the Qataris and didn’t think the film would broadcast in the near future.” One anonymous source even boasted to Haaretz that “the Qatari emir himself helped make the decision” to spike our film.

These same zealots are now lobbying Congress to pressure the Department of Justice to require our network to register as “foreign agents” under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (or “FARA”). In a letter circulated on Capitol Hill last week, some lawmakers even raised alarm over “reports” that our undercover had “infiltrated American 501 (c)(3) and (c)(4) nonprofit organizations” in the course of our journalism.

I was outraged. When the network launched in 1996, it was set up to shine the light of transparency across the Arab and Muslim world. Established powers hated us, and on any given day, still do. Even the Bush administration contemplated bombing our headquarters during the second Iraq war. It was incredible to hear just a few years later then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defending Al Jazeera as “real news” in testimony before Congress. I defy any journalist who truly values her or his craft to say that Al Jazeera has not been a force for good in our troubled planet. Al Jazeera has without question expanded press freedoms throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

And yet, I have to admit that someone has been hard at work putting the kibosh on our film.
For since October, we’ve faced a series of unexplained delays in broadcasting our project, the likes of which I’ve never experienced. I was repeatedly told by everyone I asked to “wait,” and was assured our documentary would eventually see the light of day. Then, as now, I took my senior management at its word. To my own specially trained ears, “wait” did not constitute “stop.

In fact, it must not constitute “stop.” For if our documentary does not air, it may well lend credibility to the claim these 14 U.S. politicians have used and defamed us with — that Al Jazeera is indeed a foreign agent, at the direction and control of Qatar’s government.

I confess my own disappointment with Al Jazeera’s non-response to these attacks. In part because of this deep frustration and my inability to get any real transparency about the decision to delay our broadcast, I asked for and received a sabbatical, which I began this week. Meanwhile, the attacks against us continue. Although Al Jazeera is a world class media organization that wins awards and has changed history and the Arab world so much for the better, our shortcomings remain being way too shy (and late) to tell our own story. Worse, we often let others who have an agenda against us to tell it for us.

I am distressed to find that our investigation into America’s pro-Israel lobbyists may represent the most important test yet of Al Jazeera’s independence, and whether our network still has space to thrive amidst the unjust blockade against our Qatari host. I pray those outside our network do not seek short term political expediency and inappropriately interfere with our professional work, which we have zealously guarded and worked long term to preserve and uphold.

Nothing less than free speech and democratic values are at stake here.

Clayton Swisher is a Doha-based investigative journalist on sabbatical leave from Al Jazeera Media Network and author of “The Truth About Camp David” and “The Palestine Papers.” The author speaks for himself and not for Al Jazeera. Follow him on Twitter @claytonswisher.

What’s in Al Jazeera’s undercover film on the US Israel lobby?

Foundation for Defense of Democracies vice president Jonathan Schanzer testifies at a hearing in Congress. (CSPAN)

The leading neoconservative think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies is functioning as an agent of the Israeli government, Al Jazeera’s forthcoming investigation on the US Israel lobby will reveal.

According to a source who has seen the undercover documentary, it contains footage of a powerful Israeli official claiming that “We have FDD. We have others working on this.”

Sima Vaknin-Gil, a former Israeli military intelligence officer, is said to state that the foundation is “working on” projects for Israel including “data gathering, information analysis, working on activist organizations, money trail. This is something that only a country, with its resources, can do the best.”

Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, commonly known as FARA, US organizations and individuals who work on behalf of foreign governments are required to register with the counterintelligence section of the Department of Justice.

A search on the FARA website shows that the Foundation for Defense of Democracies is not registered.

Al Jazeera’s film reportedly identifies a number of lobby groups as working with Israel to spy on American citizens using sophisticated data gathering techniques. The documentary is also said to cast light on covert efforts to smear and intimidate Americans seen as too critical of Israel.

Israel lobby groups have placed intense pressure on Qatar, which funds Al Jazeera, to shelve the film, fueling speculation it may never be aired.

Covert agent of Israel

Sima Vaknin-Gil, who holds the rank of brigadier-general in Israel’s military, is now the top civil servant at Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

The ministry is in charge of running a covert campaign of sabotage against BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in support of Palestinian human rights.

Vaknin-Gil’s ministerial boss is Gilad Erdan, a close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Soon after she was appointed to lead the ministry at the start of 2016, Vaknin-Gil promised tocreate a community of fighters” who would “flood the internet” with Israeli propaganda that would be publicly distanced from the government.

As well as getting funding from Sheldon Adelson, the anti-Palestinian billionaire and number one donor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies has close ties to the United Arab Emirates.

In hacked emails last year the Emirati ambassador in Washington encouraged the foundation to push for moving a US military base from Qatar to his own country.

The film will also reportedly show undercover footage of a junior Israel lobbyist boasting of how close Israel’s ties are with the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf regimes.

UAE, Israel deepening ties

Information removed from Max Adelstein’s Facebook page. Click here for full resolution.
Max Adelstein is said to be seen in the film stating that the lobby has helped Israel and the United Arab Emirates develop security links “all under the table.”

Adelstein was an intern at Washington lobbying firm the Harbour Group. The firm’s clients include the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

It received $2.2 million from the UAE and more than $300,000 from Saudi Arabia during the six months ending 30 September 2017.

Adelstein now says he works for AIPAC, Washington’s most powerful Israel lobby group whose annual conference began Sunday. (Shortly after this article was published, Adelstein switched on his Facebook privacy settings and removed mention of his AIPAC role. Screenshots of his profile have been added.)

The film is said to show Adelstein boasting that ties between the United Arab Emirates and Israel are “getting so much better, and nobody knows it.”

He told an undercover Al Jazeera reporter that “The governments have to coordinate on security. It’s all under the table. But on trade, security, tech, medicine, there’s a lot of cooperation.”

According to The Electronic Intifada’s source, Adelstein is seen in the undercover footage explaining that an American Jewish Committee “study tour” of the United Arab Emirates focusing on “mutual cooperation” was planned.

In January, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a forum of Israel lobby groups whose membership includes the American Jewish Committee, announced it had sent a “large delegation” of leaders to the United Arab Emirates, where it “met with everybody at the highest levels.”

The additional insight into the United Arab Emirates’ cozying up to Israel lobby groups comes as the wealthy monarchy’s activities in Washington are facing renewed scrutiny.

On Saturday, The New York Times reported that special counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his investigation from alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential election to “include Emirati influence on the Trump administration” through the president’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.

“Anti-Semitism as a smear is not what it used to be”

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is said to be seen in the undercover footage briefing recruits on how to smear Palestine solidarity groups in the US who support the BDS movement.

According to the source, Schanzer admits to the undercover reporter that “BDS has taken everybody by surprise.”

He calls the response by Israel lobby groups “a complete mess,” adding, “I don’t think that anybody’s doing a good job. We’re not even doing a good job.”

According to the source, Schanzer laments that attempts to smear Students for Justice in Palestine and American Muslims for Palestine as linked to extremist Islamic terrorism have failed to gain traction.

He is also said to regret that the Israel lobby’s habitual tactic of falsely alleging Palestine solidarity activists are motivated by anti-Jewish hatred is losing its impact.

“Personally I think anti-Semitism as a smear is not what it used to be,” he is said to tell the undercover reporter.

Schanzer’s views echo a secret report endorsed by the Israeli government and distributed to Israel lobby leaders last year. That report, a leaked copy of which was published by The Electronic Intifada, concludes that Israel’s efforts to stem the growth of the Palestine solidarity movement have largely failed.

Film delayed

In October last year, Clayton Swisher, Al Jazeera’s head of investigations, first announced that the Qatari satellite channel had in 2016 run an undercover journalist in the US Israel lobby.

Swisher made the announcement soon after the UK’s broadcast regulator dismissed all complaints against Al Jazeera’s film The Lobby.

That documentary, broadcast in January 2017, exposed Israel’s covert influence campaign in the UK’s ruling Conservative and opposition Labour parties. The film revealed an Israeli embassy agent plotting with a British civil servant to “take down” a government minister seen as too critical of Israel.

Although Swisher promised the US film would come out “very soon,” nearly five months later it has yet to be broadcast.

Israel lobby in Qatar

Over the same period, a wave of Israel lobbyists has visited Qatar at the invitation of its ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Among them have been some of the most rightwing and extreme figures among Israel’s defenders in the US, including Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Morton Klein, the head of the Zionist Organization of America.

Multiple Israel lobby sources told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper last month that they had received assurances from Qatari leaders late last year that the Al Jazeera documentary will not be aired.
Qatar has denied this.

Pro-Israel groups have gone on the offensive to try and deter Al Jazeera from showing the film.

“Let’s not mince words about what this was – a well-funded, professional espionage operation carried out by Qatar on American soil,” Noah Pollak, executive director of the neoconservative Committee for Israel, has stated.

Ironically, pro-Israel members of Congress are now pressuring the Department of Justice to force Al Jazeera to register as an arm of Qatar, under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, just as the Russian-funded network RT was recently forced to do.

Whether this pressure will succeed in burying the documentary for good is perhaps the ultimate test of the Israel lobby influence Al Jazeera journalists sought to expose.

Updated to add Max Adelstein screenshots.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada.

See also Electronic Intifada’s How “Russiagate” helps the Israel lobby. Russia’s RT has been forced to register as a foreign agent in the United States.  This is now being used to close it down.  The same is now happening to Al Jazeera, again to silence it.  Of course the corporate media, whose only allegiance is to the pockets of those who own them and United States capitalism will not be so registered.  It’s all in the name of free speech and democracy!
Morton Klein - far-Right President of the Zionist Organisation of America invited to Qatar as part of an attempt to win over key Zionists in America
Sigurd Neubauer
The Forward March 9, 2018

Some surprising news emerged on the heels of the annual shebang of America’s largest Israel lobbying group. On the final day of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s policy conference, news broke that an undercover Al Jazeera documentary — about the very topic of Jewish advocacy for Israel — might lead to espionage charges against the network.
As part of the documentary, a young man went undercover to work for pro-Israel lobbying and fundraising groups. American critics have argued that this constituted “espionage” against US citizens, since Al Jazeera is funded by the government of Qatar. Al Jazeera should therefore be forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.
A FARA designation would for all practical purposes cripple Al Jazeera and its ability to interview US officials and bring guests on air. But this week, the efforts got traction on Capitol Hill when U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer and Lee Zeldin sent a letter urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to enforce the FARA. 19 members of Congress have signed onto the latter, as has a single senator — Ted Cruz.

This strange episode makes more sense if you take a closer look at who’s running the charges. The largest contributor to Gottheimer 2018 election campaign is NorPac, a “non-partisan” political action committee whose “primary purpose” is to support candidates who demonstrate “a genuine commitment to the strength, security and survival of Israel,” according to Open Secrets. Given that New Jersey has the second largest Jewish population after New York in the U.S., a re-election campaign focused on Al Jazeera and its coverage of American Jews would be a good play to Gottheimer’s base.

But Al Jazeera is facing intense international pressure, too. The FARA letter comes during a nasty feud between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which has resulted in a crushing blockade against Qatar. And in some ways, this Gulf crisis also comes back to Al Jazeera.
The blockade is the result of the Anti Terror Quartet, which consists of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. They have long-standing grievances with Qatar’s independent foreign policy and especially with Al Jazeera, which has since its inception in 1996 prodded fellow Arab governments about sensitive issues, including the role of political Islam, corruption, Arab states’ support for the US/UK-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the lack of democracy across the Arab world.
Of course, while generally progressive on Arab issues, when it comes to the coverage of the Qatari royal family and of Qatari politics, Al Jazeera’s coverage is muted, at best (which falls in line with the rest of the GCC state media, which prohibits criticizing royal families and government policies in general). It’s also true that Al Jazeera is fully state owned, which explains why Qatar’s neighbors have long considered it to be a tool of Doha’s foreign policy.
And yet, the Arab world’s hatred of Al Jazeera is in direct proportion to its influence shaping the discourse, which runs deep, including on Israel. Al Jazeera Arabic remains the Arab world’s most popular news channel, and is the only Arab network to regularly provide Israelis with a platform to present their views.
That Al Jazeera continues to push boundaries was evident after it came under intense scrutiny on social media last month for providing IDF Spokesman in Arabic Avichay Adraee a platform to present the Israeli position. Still, Al Jazeera, along with Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya and Sky News Arabia networks, is well-known for presenting the Palestinian narrative of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. AJ+, an online news and current events channel run by Al Jazeera, is known for producing content sympathetic to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions agenda, along with other subjects popular with America’s far-left constituency.
Due to its influence, a core demand by those imposing the siege was that Qatar shut down Al Jazeera if they want the siege to end (Qatar, for its part, considers the 13 demands not a negotiation gambit but an imposition meant to curtail its sovereignty).
In other words, Qatar is now being pressured to shut Al Jazeera by Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, 19 congressmen, and Ted Cruz.
But this confluence of national and international pressure around Al Jazeera is not accidental. Qatar has long feared that its regional rivals would partner with American Jewish groups to jointly lobby the U.S. Congress to force the network to register under FARA.
It’s widely understood within Washington policy circles that the UAE sought to take advantage of the Trump presidency to solve the Qatar issue once and for all. It’s not just the Trump administration, either. Leaders of the American Jewish community have been courted by both Qatar and the UAE, and Jewish lobbyists have even been hired for their long-standing ties to the Jewish community.
Ultimately, it’s unclear whether the House Republican leadership would even consider bringing the FARA measure up for a vote. But no matter what American Jews think about Al Jazeera, they should recognize the true context of the FARA request: that media and intellectual diversity face unprecedented scrutiny at home and abroad, especially within the Arab world. Instead of using their lobbying influence to become partisans in the ATQ-Qatar dispute by calling for Al Jazeera’s FARA registration, American Jewish leaders should continue their respective engagements with the Qatari and UAE leadership.
If the Doha-based network is forced to register as a Foreign Agent, it will likely have ripple effects against media organizations around the world. The American Jewish leadership should not want this stain on its reputation, especially given that they are known for championing tolerance and pluralism at home and abroad.
Sigurd Neubauer is a Middle East analyst based in Washington and a frequent contributor to Al Jazeera. He is also a graduate of Yeshiva University in New York where he studied Political Science (BA) and Modern Jewish history.

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