|Watch final episodes of Al Jazeera film on US Israel lobby
In the first two parts of the censored documentary The Lobby – USA, released by The Electronic Intifada this week, Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter “Tony” charmed his way into pro-Israel circles.
He discovered a network of organizations acting as fronts for the Israeli state to spy on, disrupt and sabotage US supporters of Palestinian rights – especially BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
In the final two parts of of the film, Tony gets a deeper look at Israel’s covert influence campaigns during his internship for The Israel Project.
The Electronic Intifada is releasing the leaked film simultaneously with France’s Orient XXI and Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar, which have respectively subtitled the episodes in French and Arabic.
In part three, Al Jazeera interviews Bill Mullen, a professor of American Studies at Purdue University in Indiana, and a leading activist in the BDS movement.
As The Electronic Intifada reported in 2016, Mullen and his family found themselves targeted by an organized smear campaign, starting in March of that year.
anonymous websites sprang up, containing fabricated accounts of sexual
harassment by Mullen, supposedly by a student.
the film, Mullen describes the campaign as an attempt to destroy his
marriage. His wife, also a professor, was sent a link to one of
The smear campaign seems to have been manufactured by Israel’s agents in the US.
“These people will do anything”
of the [anonymous] accounts explains that in the process of supposedly
putting my hand on her, I’d invited her to a Palestine organizational
meeting. And I thought, you’re sort of putting your cards on the table
there,” Mullen says, explaining how he came to realize that pro-Israel
actors were behind the smears.
recounts how the anonymous websites also used the name of his daughter,
which he says was the worst moment for him, when he realized “these
people will do anything, they’re capable of doing anything.”
A Students for Justice in Palestine activist who Mullen worked with, speaks anonymously in an interview with Al Jazeera.
too was targeted by an anonymous smear site, which falsely claimed she
engaged in “partying, drinking” and “promiscuity.” She recounts how
this led to tension and upset at home, with her parents telling her to
end her SJP involvement.
tactics have been common features of “advocacy” for Israel for decades.
Israel lobbyists know they cannot win open debate on the
attempts to target and sabotage activists’ personal lives represent an
escalation in tactics in recent years, led by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
tactics are more reminiscent of Israeli intelligence services’ actions
against Palestinian resistance organizations in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip, with the usage of blackmail, disinformation, rumors
This is not entirely surprising considering that the Ministry of Strategic Affairs is largely staffed by Israeli spies.
“It’s psychological warfare”
In undercover footage seen in episode one, the Israel on Campus Coalition’s Jacob Baime admitted to coordinating with the Israeli ministry.
described his approach as “modeled on General Stanley McChrystal’s
counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq,” explaining that they “copied a lot
from that strategy that has been working really well for
Although Baime seems confused about the country – the US general’s “counterinsurgency” effort was focused on Afghanistan, not Iraq – McChrystal’s strategy emphasizes “offensive information operations.”
episode three, Baime explains how his organization applies this against
“the anti-Israel people” by putting “up some anonymous website” along
with targeted Facebook ads.
explains that as a result activists “either shut down or they spend
time responding to it and investigating it, which is time they can’t
spend attacking Israel.”
“It’s psychological warfare, it drives them crazy,” he claims.
later states that the Israel on Campus Coalition has a budget of some
$2 million for “research” for such smear campaigns alone.
As previously reported by The Electronic Intifada, episode three also names convicted tax evader, and multimillionaire Israel lobby financier Adam Milstein as the founder of secretive blacklisting site Canary Mission.
It also reveals the Foundation for Defense of Democracies as another agent of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
The foundation’s Jonathan Schanzer admits in undercover footage that “anti-Semitism as a smear is not what is used to be.”
“The foundation that AIPAC sat on is rotting”
Episode four reveals how Israel is working against the Black Lives Matter movement.
consul-general in Atlanta is seen in undercover footage complaining
that “the major problem for Israel is with the young generation of the
The Israel Project’s successful attempts to influence American mainstream media are also detailed, with former CNN journalist Jim Clancy describing it as “propaganda.”
in episode four, Tony goes along for the ride with a comically
unenthusiastic group of young, conservative think tank fellows, who are
compelled by their bosses to join a protest against a Students for
Justice in Palestine conference.
Max Blumenthal at the Grayzone Project previously released clips from these scenes, but all the footage can now be viewed on this page.
the undercover footage, the fellows admit to Tony that what they are
doing is “astroturfing” – a term for fake grassroots activism
orchestrated or paid for by an interest group.
This feeds into the film’s ultimate conclusion, in the words of Eric Gallagher, Tony’s boss at The Israel Project.
Gallagher describes how the bipartisan consensus in support of Israel has seriously fractured in recent years, with polls consistently showing a slide in progressive and liberal support for Israel.
Gallagher admits that the fortunes of AIPAC, Washington’s most powerful Israel lobby group, and his former employer, are not what they once were.
“The foundation that AIPAC sat on is rotting,” he laments.
“There used to be actual widespread public support for Israel in the United States. So I don’t think that AIPAC is going to remain as influential as it is.”
He adds: “I don’t think that AIPAC is the tip of the spear anymore, which is worrisome, because who is?”