Canary Mission – The Real Face of Zionism – A Desperate Attempt to Intimidate Supporters of BDS

Canary Mission – The Real Face of Zionism – A Desperate Attempt to Intimidate Supporters of BDS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The following article sheds light on a sinister new Zionist group in the USA which relies on targeting individual activists, providing information designed to deter potential employers from employing them and creating the potential for them to be threatened with rape, murder and publicising personal information about them including their address.

This is not only a demonstration of the Zionists’ inability to defend their politics on US campuses but it is also indicative of their own weakness.  Unable to portray Israel as a democratic state, the only one in the Middle East they resort to the tactics of the cut-throat gangster.

Tony Greenstein
Profiles of activists
As pro-Israel
extremism reaches new depths with the notorious Canary Mission project, the FBI
investigates growing threats against BDS activists.
September
30, 2015

This
article is part one of a four-part investigation.
The
Israel lobby is redirecting resources to a new project after its failure to
stop the Iran nuclear deal despite spending an estimated $30 million to halt
it. Following the defeat, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered
a campaign against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement that is
spreading on American college campuses. The funding is flowing from donors
closely linked to Netanyahu’s government. But the effort has almost instantly
run into trouble. It is inspiring an atmosphere of incitement and intimidation,
and the FBI is now investigating violent threats made against BDS activists.
 
The
BDS movement has gathered momentum at a staggering pace since it was devised by
Palestinian civil society groups in 2005. With its call for grassroots level
boycotts to pressure Israel into respecting the human rights of Palestinians,
the movement has spread across European capitals and found fertile soil on
American college campuses. Groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and
Jewish Voices for Peace now boast chapters at almost every major university,
and student governments at most University of California campuses have passed
resolutions to divest from occupation-linked corporations. The trend is sending
shockwaves through pro-Israel circles, prompting a desperate multi-million
dollar campaign to crush it. 
The
anti-BDS effort is a new wrinkle in the old culture war. It involves old actors
and new activists. The old ones consist of neoconservative operators who have
learned how to create causes to benefit from millions of dollars given by
right-wing donors. Infused with new millions from the likes of billionaires
Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer, they are recruiting from a new generation of
conservative activists gathered around right-wing organizations and social
networks. The sensibility of these activists is virulently Islamophobic,
anti-Arab and conditioned by the cultural resentments of the far right. Those
attracted to this crusade are typically Orthodox Jews and evangelical
Christians enraptured by Israel’s settlement enterprise, the militarized
occupation and the Republican Party. They also feel that they are just as
threatened by Black Lives Matter as they are by the BDS movement. With
encouragement from veteran right-wing operatives, these heavily funded and
promoted young zealots have turned to surveillance of their opponents, engaged
in monitoring Palestine solidarity activists on social media and at public
events and are compiling selective dossiers to smear activists as anti-Semites
and even terrorist sympathizers.
The
directive for the anti-BDS movement comes from Jerusalem, where the Israeli
government has also provided an example, introducing measures to defund human
rights NGOs and approving sanctions against Israeli citizens who support BDS.
Netanyahu has
created a special ministerial post
for countering BDS, and the Israeli
army recently announced
its intention to monitor groups involved in boycott
campaigns across the globe. Ofir Akunis, a rising star of the Likud Party and
member of Netanyahu’s cabinet, distilled the government’s mindset when
he insisted
that Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Communist witch-hunter of the
early 1950s, “was right in every word he said.”
In
the aftermath of Netanyahu’s failed campaign against the Iran deal, his
American front groups and funders are still holding the reins of the pro-Israel
lobby and riding it further toward the far fringes of the right wing. Its new
efforts are driving a polarizing atmosphere at every institution where its
presence is felt.
One
of its main expressions can be found on the website of a semi-secret
organization, created, as Akunis suggested, in the spirit of Joe McCarthy. This
website attempts to stigmatize college students for their political views and
deprive them of future jobs as punishment.

McCarthyism
2.0
Neoconservative ideologue Daniel Pipes acted as a go-between for Canary Mission
Canary
Mission made its debut in April as a website tarring students with derogatory labels
— “fake Jew” was how the site labeled one leading Students for Justice in
Palestine activist. Even more disturbingly, its anonymous operators published
bits and pieces of information with the stated aim of denying future employment
opportunities to the students they had targeted.
Claiming
to be operated by “students and concerned citizens,” who were not identified,
Canary Mission is essentially a blacklist of students, academics and activists
involved with pro-Palestine solidarity activities on campus. “It is your duty
to ensure that today’s radicals are not tomorrow’s employees,”
the anonymous
female narrator of a promotional
video
posted on Canary Mission’s website declared. In their campaign
against supporters of the BDS movement, Canary Mission’s masked staffers have
vilified more than 140 activists, many of whom are current or recent students
enrolled in the University of California system.
Canary
Mission does not list the names of any of its staff members, financial backers
or affiliated organizations. It is an anonymous venture; those involved have
taken extensive steps to conceal their identities.  No reporter has yet
been able to connect Canary Mission to any single funder or organization,
despite the fact that the organization solicits tax-deductible donations via
its website and mailing list. However, according to our review of IRS 990 tax
filings, Canary Mission is not currently registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit,
suggesting that the group’s donations are instead channeled through an unknown
pro-Israel parent organization that is registered. (Any organization that
solicits tax deductible donations without maintaining valid IRS status is in
violation of multiple federal laws).
When
we contacted him by email, Middle East Forum
founder Daniel Pipes
stepped forward to act as a de facto spokesman for
Canary Mission. A hardline neoconservative ideologue and former George W. Bush
administration appointee to the US Institute for Peace, Pipes
has called
for razing entire Palestinian villages and urged the US to “help
whichever side is losing [in Syria] so as to prolong the conflict.”
While Pipes
denied that he had any involvement in the Canary Mission venture, he admitted
to us that he knew who was behind the site. Claiming to be communicating
messages from Canary Mission’s real administrators, Pipes provided us with
comments on their behalf.
When
we asked why Canary Mission’s creators have insisted on remaining anonymous,
Pipes stated, “I was told they do not want to distract from the subject at
hand.”
Pipes
later explained to us that “[Canary Mission’s goal of] collecting information
on students has particular value because it signals [to] them that calumnying
[sic] Israel is serious business, not some inconsequential collegiate prank;
and that their actions can damage both Israel and their future careers.”
He
justified the site’s tactics by adding that “anti-Zionist elements frequently
engage in 
exactly this practice of aggregating information.”
Besides
Middle East Forum, Pipes is the founder of an online venture called Campus
Watch comprised of dossiers on professors he considered “anti-Israel” — a
blacklist with a strong resemblance to Canary Mission that targeted some of the
very same individuals, and which also encouraged pro-Israel students to surveil
their professors.
He has accused
Arabs and Muslims
in the US of hatching a secret plot to “make the United
States a Muslim country”
and warned that “Middle East Studies has become the
preserve of Middle Eastern Arabs, who bring their views with them.”
Many of
those who appear on Pipes’ Campus Watch blacklist report being bombarded with
violent threats and hostile email campaigns from mostly unnamed sources.
Unlike
Campus Watch, which Pipes freely acknowledges as his own, Canary Mission’s
administrators have gone to extreme lengths to keep the site’s funders and
orchestrators a top secret. And it appears to be with good reason: Not only
does Canary Mission seek to deny future employment opportunities to students
who participate in Palestine solidarity activities, it also seems intent on
cultivating an atmosphere of intimidation in which activists, academics and
journalists are fair game for threats that include rape and violence and
insults that are often racist.
Just
a few weeks after the site’s launch, threats leveled by anonymous Twitter
accounts, including several linked to Canary Mission, prompted an active FBI
investigation.

FBI
investigates hate crimes, domestic terror
As
a third-year law student at Boston’s Northeastern University who has actively
campaigned with the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter,
Max Geller is no stranger to character attacks and threats from pro-Israel
activists. When the Boston-based right-wing Zionist donor Charles Jacobs — a
possible orchestrator of Canary Mission — began lobbying Northeastern U’s
administration to ban the school’s SJP chapter, he set up a Facebook page
called “Exposing Islamic Extremism at Northeastern.” Soon, the violent
threats came pouring in
, with one commenter on the page writing of Geller,
“I would seriously introduce that kid to the inside of an ambulance.” When his
parents’ home address appeared on the Facebook page, Geller said he began
receiving threats targeting his family.
Geller
pointed
to the website
, a defunct anti-Palestinian blacklisting site operated by
the violent extremist Jewish Defense League, as the true model for Canary
Mission. “The dossiers and the website [of Canary Mission] seem to be primarily
concerned with impacting Google search results,”
Geller told us. “But the
presence of Twitter handles and personal Facebook pages on the dossiers seem to
be devoted to getting activists threatened. Canary Mission seems to be
specifically designed to give individual students a cost benefit analysis as to
whether they work with these activists that appear on the website.”
Noting
that he and several other activists who appeared on Canary Mission had already
received a renewed torrent of violent warnings, Geller reflected, “If joining a
divestment campaign on campus translates into getting rape threats and racial
epithets thrown at you, some people might just second guess whether they want
to do that. So this website is not just about not getting people employed, it’s
about much more, which is why they give people ways of getting in touch with
the activists who are profiled. And by getting in touch, I mean bullying and
threatening.”
Among
those who have been bombarded with violent abuse since appearing on Canary
Mission’s website is Rebecca Pierce, a Jewish African-American videographer and
recent graduate of University of California-Santa Cruz. On June 2, less than
two weeks after Pierce
appeared
as Canary Mission’s “Radical of the Day,” she began receiving racist
attacks
and rape
threats
from @RememberMasada, an anonymous Twitter user followed by Canary
Mission’s Twitter account. (Masada may have been a reference to the defunct
blacklisting site Masada 2000). “I know all you niggers hate Jews because
you’re envious of us,” wrote
@RememberMasada
. The account went on to call Pierce a “kapo,” or Jewish
concentration camp guard, telling her, “Only good kapo is a dead kapo.
After
@RememberMasada threatened to rape Pierce, another Twitter user named @HippyKiller12
suddenly materialized. “I found you on Canary, God bless those people,” the user said.
“If SJP is allowed on campus, why not KKK?”
When
Pierce protested her inclusion on the Canary Mission blacklist, complaining of
racist abuse and violent threats, Canary Mission’s Twitter account addressed
her directly with an ominous reply: “[W]e got your request to be off the CM
list. If you’re able to demonstrate good behavior for a few years it will be
considered.”
With
regard to this response from their own official Twitter account, Canary
Mission’s staffers stated through Pipes, “It is not our responsibility to
respond and deal with Twitter trolls who follow either us or Miss Pierce.
“Having
said that, we took her complaints seriously and looked into the offending
account and noticed it had already been banned by Twitter.  We ourselves
abhor all forms of physical violence and racism — this is why we started Canary
Mission in the first place. Rebecca Pierce allies herself with racists,
radicals and bigots.”
Rania
Khalek, a journalist and outspoken BDS advocate who has contributed to
AlterNet, was also targeted
by @RememberMasada
: “@RaniaKhalek is an evil Arab supremacist whore who
should be raped to death.”
Two days later, a Twitter user named
@RaniaKhalekRaped and featuring a photo of Khalek and two female relatives as
its avatar began bombarding her with death threats:
“I’ll tie you up and burn you alive, carve a swastika onto each of your tits,”
wrote @RaniaKhalekRaped. “I know you Arabs like swastikas.”
The
Canary Mission dismissed any responsibility for these threats, telling us
through Pipes, “Rania Khalek is not currently profiled by Canary Mission. It is
a stretch of the imagination to blame us for complaints against her.”
Another
pro-Israel Twitter user calling themselves @BobbyShaftoe314 fantasized
about the Israeli Mossad
assassinating one of this article’s authors, Max
Blumenthal. The same user has engaged in ongoing friendly
Twitter
 exchanges with the
account
anonymously maintained by Canary Mission.
When
Khalek contacted the FBI about the threats, FBI Agent Keith Pali informed her
that his bureau had launched an investigation through its Counter-Terrorism
division. On Aug. 12, Khalek received a letter from FBI Victim Specialist Greg
Lott informing her that “a criminal investigation can be a lengthy undertaking,
and, for several reasons, we cannot tell you about its progress at this time.”
A
separate FBI Counter-Terrorism investigation
published this May
found that right-wing extremists are “expanding their
target sets to include Muslims and Islamic religious institutions in the United
States.”
The investigation cited anti-Muslim bloggers like Pamela Geller (no
relation to Max Geller) as inspirations to the militia-oriented radicals
seeking to attack Muslim targets in the US. Though the FBI bulletin did not
make mention of it, pro-Israel organizations within Geller’s ideological
network are adopting tactics previously identified with violent extremist
outfits like the Jewish Defense League. Chief among them is the shadowy Canary
Mission.
“Canary
Mission is the first organized attempt to get [Palestine solidarity] activists
in this country threatened,”
Max Geller stated. “No good can come of this
website existing. It can only legitimize volatile people’s narratives and
motivate them to do violent things. And I also think the creators of this
project wouldn’t feel that bad if some lone wolf was radicalized by what they
read and did something crazy. In fact, it might be what they’re hoping for.”

Canary’s
links to the Israeli government and settlement enterprise
Hasbara Fellows Complete Their First Day of Social Media Training At Aish’s World Center
Overlooking
the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem stands a cavernous complex of
offices called the Aish
World Center
. Operating on prime occupied land awarded to it by the Israeli
government, Aish is a modern Orthodox, pro-settler organization that exists for
the ostensible purpose of educating unaffiliated Jewish students in religious
practice. While the group invests some of its energy on Jewish education, it
also functions as a nerve center for pro-Israel fundraising and hasbara, or
propaganda. Through Aish, an array of pro-Israel and anti-Muslim propaganda
vehicles have been produced, from the virulently Islamophobic Third Jihad and
Obsession
films distributed en masse to American swing state voters on
Election Day to Set
The Red Line,
an astroturfed film project hyping the threat of Iran’s
nuclear program. With help from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Aish created a
so-called Hasbara
Fellowships
program to train Jewish college students to propagandize for
Israel on campuses in the US.
Our
investigation into Canary Mission and its affiliates has identified Aish as an
apparent administrator of the blacklisting website.
In
August, Canary Mission shut down its Facebook page after a group of Internet
sleuths obtained the recovery email for the site, which they then supplied to
us. It was a Gmail address belonging to Todd
Rosenblatt
, a Jewish American photographer and video editor working at
Aish’s World Center in Jerusalem. Rosenblatt has promoted and apparently
participated in the Onward Israel Video Activism Summer Fellowship that Aish
advertises on its website. This program is operated by a former Aish staffer
named Jonathan Bash who was recently identified
by reporter
Joshua Nathan-Kazis as one of the likely administrators of
Canary Mission.
Bash
identifies as the director of a little-known hasbara operation called Video
Activism that appears to be one of the many front groups spun out by Aish. This
group coordinates the Video Activism Summer Fellowship through the Jewish
Agency, which is funded largely by Israel’s government. Despite denying any
role in Canary Mission, a video posted by Bash’s organization this July
“features a voiceover by a narrator who sounds identical to the narrator who
did a voiceover for a video posted by the Canary Mission in May,” according to
Nathan-Kazis. Bash has promoted
the Canary Mission’s promotional video
on his personal YouTube channel.
In
another apparent slip-up, Canary Mission directed website visitors not to its
own Twitter profile, but to the Twitter account of a South African resident of
Israel named Warren “Betzalel” Lapidus. Though ostensibly employed by Video
Activism, Lapidus has listed Aish as his employer on his Facebook page. The
mistake prompted Canary Mission to temporarily take down its website, but the
damage to its secrecy had already been done.
So
who or what exactly is directing Canary Mission? All clues point to Aish, but
from there, the trail could lead anywhere. Indeed, Aish is a gargantuan
organization that claims to
operate
“30 branches on six continents.” Canary Mission appears to be a
collaborative effort involving a constellation of right-wing pro-Israel groups,
most of which are based in the United States. A video promoted
by
Rosenblatt in May
and produced by an obscure Israeli hasbara organization
called the Hallelu Foundation outlines how Aish likely administers Canary
Mission’s resources.
Declaring
that Israel’s propaganda “is as important as its borders,” the video’s narrator
explains that “the Hallelu fund plans to become an umbrella organization for
all Jewish organizations in Israel and abroad that deal with hasbara. It will
support them, coordinate and optimize their abilities, so that for the first
time, forces will be integrated and will have strategic, coordinated action in
this most important arena.”
According
to the narrator, Hallelu “plans to start a series of unprecedented attack
campaigns, the likes of which we’ve never seen, both in terms of content and in
range, accompanied by first class professionals.”
Whether
or not the Canary Mission is one of those campaigns, the Hallelu video offers a
fairly clear picture of how hasbara functions. To the extent that Aish has a
role in Canary Mission, it likely serves as a general manager while the
frontline players do battle on the American field, conducting surveillance of
campus organizers and left-wing academics, and compiling information in online
dossiers. It is a team effort involving an array of cadres and organizations
united by the singular goal of driving Palestine solidarity activism
underground.
On
the eve of the anticipated launch of Canary Mission earlier this year, key
members of this network gathered in California to roll out a new initiative
that one of its leaders described as a “guerilla campaign,” which would rely on
the McCarthyite tactics that are the hallmark of his career.
Max
Blumenthal is a senior writer for AlterNet, and the award-winning author
of Goliath
and Republican Gomorrah.
Find him on Twitter at @MaxBlumenthal.

Julia
Carmel is a freelance writer. You can find her on Twitter at @JuliaCarmel_

 

 

 

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