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August 11, 2016

Tunisian BDS Conference Raises Questions About Qatari Involvement

On August 4th, the Qatar-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) launched a three-day academic conference in Tunisia titled “Boycott as a Strategy to Counter Israel’s Occupation and Apartheid: Present-day Realities and Aspirations.” The conference served as a reminder of BDS activists’ efforts to expand their agenda and further their goal of delegitimizing the state of Israel, but also illuminated potential rifts within the movement.

Panelists at the BDS conference in Tunisia

Panelists at the BDS conference in Tunisia

While ACRPS claims to be an independent research institute, it appears to have strong ties to the Qatari government. This could suggest that individuals closely affiliated to the Qatari government may be interested in playing a bigger role in advancing the BDS movement.

ACRPS registration documents list Sultan Ghanim Al Kuwari, a prominent Qatari businessman, as the founder of the Center. Reportedly, Al Kuwari, who is closely affiliated with Qatar’s royal family, is also listed as the director of several Qatari international media outlets. He is also described as the person in charge of extending the reach of the Qatari soft diplomatic power under the leadership of the Emir of Qatar. Furthermore, reports from previous ACRPS events present the Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani as a regular guest of honor at many of the group’s events.

The Qatari connection could raise the hackles of BDS activists who are skeptical of Qatar’s foreign policy positions, and are concerned that the country’s involvement would transform the grassroots movement into a ‘state branding’ project. On the first day of the conference, members of the Tunisian BDS chapter disrupted the session and protested against what they consider as the Qatari government’s connection. They also protested against the director of the ACRPS, Azmi Beshara, because he served as a member of the Israeli Knesset in the past, which the activists consider as an act of treason. An earlier statement on the official Facebook page of the Tunisian chapter of the BDS movement called fora boycott of the conference because the ACRPS and the conference itself “are sponsored by the Qatari government” which, according to the Tunisian chapter, is “one of the Arab governments most active in normalization with Israel.”

This BDS conference was built on a series of previous events hosted by the ACRPS and focused on questions about the objectives of the BDS movement and the role of the Arab states, émigré communities, and Palestinians. One speaker, Osama Abu Irshaid, the National Policy Director of American Muslims for Palestine, said “it is a must to transform the BDS movement into a system and a framework that will go beyond only boycotting corporations that support Israel to the de-legitimization of Israel as well.” ACRPS issued a paper supporting Irshaid’s goals.

Other speakers at the conference included Max Blumenthal, a prominent anti-Israel blogger, Peter Slezak, the co- founder of the Australian-based Independent Australian Jewish Voices, and Richard Falk, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

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January 9, 2015

Anti-Semitic Conspiracies Predictably Surface After Paris Attacks

Update –January, 15, 2015: For more examples, see also: Anti-Semitic Conspiracies Continue In Aftermath Of Paris Attacks

In the aftermath of the terror attack in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo office, conspiracy theories blaming Jews and Israel for the attack immediately surfaced in the U.S and abroad.

Image accompanying Kevin Barrett's Veterans Today article

Image accompanying Kevin Barrett’s Veterans Today article

The subsequent hostage situation at a Kosher supermarket in Paris, where at least four hostages were killed, will undoubtedly feed into the conspiracy theories as they continue to spread, as they often do after a terrible tragedy.

In the U.S., anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists, who never miss an opportunity to exploit tragedies to promote their anti-Jewish hatred, and two anti-Israel activists blamed Jews or Israel for the attacks:

  • Mark Glenn, a virulently anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, wrote on his blog The Ugly Truth that “The massacre in Paris as [sic] yet another False Flag event aimed at re-igniting and re-invigorating Judea’s declared war against Islam.” The statement is accompanied by an image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the caption “…It will generate immediate sympathy for Israel.”
  • On Vet­er­ans Today, a U.S.-based web­site that presents anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries as news, Gilad Atz­mon, an Israeli-born anti-Semite based in London, claimed that France somehow deserved these attacks due to actions he claims were pushed for by “the Jewish lobby group CRIF.” He also chastises France for “following the whims of The Lobby.” He posited, “It is quite probably that this was another false flag operation. Who could be behind it? Use your imagination…”
  • Kevin Bar­rett, an anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist and fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Iran’s Eng­lish lan­guage pro­pa­ganda news net­work, Press TV, wrote an article in Veterans Today titled “Paris ‘Charlie Hebdo Attack’: Another Zionist False Flag?” In the article Barrett describes the attack as Zionist “orchestrated” retribution for French foreign policy on Israel and the Palestinians. Barrett also implies that Israel is behind “Malaysian planes…falling out of the sky” as punishment for Malaysian foreign policy on Israel, and that the 2011 attacks in Norway that killed 77 people were perpetrated by Israel against Norway’s Labor Party for its policies on Israel.
  • Greta Berlin and Mary Hughes-Thompson, anti-Israel activists who co-founded the Free Gaza Move­ment (FGM), have also alleged Israel is behind the attack. Greta Berlin wrote on Facebook that “MOSSAD just hit the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in a clumsy false flag designed to damage the accord between Palestine and France…Here’s hoping the French police will be able to tell a well executed hit by a well trained Israeli intelligence service and not assume the Muslims would be likely to attack France when France is their freind [sic.] Israel did tell France there would be grave consequences if they voted with Palestine. A four year old could see who is responsible for this terrible attack.” Mary Hughes-Thompson posted on Twitter that “#Hebdo killings indefensible. Can’t help thinking #JSIL Mossad false flag though….” JSIL is the acronym for “Jewish State in the Levant,” a term being used by anti-Israel activists to equate Israel with ISIS.

Internationally, such conspiracy theories have entered into more mainstream media and been promoted by various individuals:

  • India: Mother Jones reported that International Business Times India published an article that posited that the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence service, was to blame. “Although there is no way to verify the claims that Mossad was involved, the backdrop in which the attack took place seems to indicate that they might be involved, many conspiracy theorists have noted. Mossad is responsible for intelligence collection and has undertaken many covert operations for Israel in Europe that aim to further their Jewish cause.” The article has since been replaced with an editor’s note stating that the article alleging this link “should never have been published.”
  • Tunisia: Tunisia Times posted an article on January 9 on its website titled “American Resources: The Mossad is behind Charlie Hebdo operation in France” According to the report, “Eventually, the Mossad hired Muslims from Arabic origins to carry the attack to increase hostility towards Muslims worldwide.”

    charlie-hebdo-al-dostor-egypt

    Image from article in Egypt’s Al Dostor newspaper describing the Mossad as carrying out the attack.

  • Egypt: Cairo-based daily newspaper, Al Dostor, published a report on its website yesterday titled “Surprise… Accusing the Mossad of carrying out the operation against the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.” According to the newspaper, the Berlin-based Free Gaza movement accused the Mossad of executing the attack which targeted the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and not any other terrorist group as it was reported.
  • Jordan: Rawafed News website published an article by Assad Al Azony on January 8 titled” The tragedy of satirical Charlie Hebdo… Search for Jews and the extreme French right wing [to be behind it]. According to the article, “One must be certain that Jews and the French extreme right wing executed this terrorist attack.”
  • Lebanon: Middle East Panorama Media and News Agency published an article today on its website by Ahmed Al Sharqawy titled “Charlie Hebdo… Oh Arabs, be aware of the Zionist trap.” Al Sharqawy claimed in his article that a pro-Palestinian Jewish friend who lives in France contacted him in the past warning that the same newspaper is suffering from a financial crisis and that “Zionist Jews advised the newspaper to fabricate a barbaric attack against the freedom of expression to increase its sales.”
  • Turkey: Coordinator  of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated organization International Rabia Platform, Turkish journalist Cihangir İşbilir, posted a comment on his Twitter account on January 7, stating “Alternative scenario: France angered Israel, because it would support Palestine in the UN security Council. Mossad committed the terrorist attack.
  • West Bank: Mazin Qumsiyeh, a conspiratorial anti-Israel activist who has a history of making anti-Semitic statements, sent an e-mail on January 9 to his listserv suggesting that the attacks in France may have been perpetrated by a state intelligence service. He stated, “Whether this was yet another false flag operation or by rogue terrorists not left alive to be questioned, Zionists are milking it to the best of their (very large) media abilities.”

Anti-Semites have promoted such absurd theories to explain events in Syria, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Sandy Hook Massacre, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In the Middle East, there are those that claim that ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood have secret alliances with the Jews or that the Jews created such terrorist groups for nefarious purposes.

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October 31, 2014

Tunisian Hacker Targets Hillel In California

O Ghost hacking groupThe website of the Beach Hillel in Long Beach, California, was hacked by an apparent Tunisian hacker by the name of O-Ghost. The hacker redirects visitors to the Hillel website to a page featuring a song about the tenets of Islam and displaying the hackers signature over a phrase “Al Khilafa [the Islamic Caliphate] is coming.”

This attack is another in a series of hacks targeting Jewish institutions in the U.S. from groups in the Arab world who often launch their cyber-attacks under the banner of “Electronic Jihad.”

Unlike most of the previous attacks, the hacking of the Beach Hillel website appears to be a one-person operation. O-Ghost appears to be affiliated with several hacker groups motivated by an anti-Israel agenda. A YouTube channel dedicated to documenting the hacking operations of O-Ghost is associated with a user by the name of Oussama Dridi.

Some of the YouTube videos uploaded by Dridi praise terrorist activities in Afghanistan and describe the Taliban fighters as heroes. Furthermore, the Facebook page includes images praising “Electronic Jihad” and a record of some previous operations such as the hacking of credit card information of Israeli citizens.

Other groups who have been active in targeting Jewish institutions and individuals include, Moroccan Ghosts, Gaza Hackers, Team System Dz , Moroccan Islamic Union-Mail, and others mostly based in North Africa.

It is worth noting that the Moroccan Islamic Union-Mail posted a statement today warning of an upcoming attack on Israeli websites in response to what the group described as closing the Aqsa mosque by Zionists.

The comment posted by Moroccan Islamic Union-Mail reads, “Oh nation of the billion [Muslims], your blessed Aqsa mosque, and the place of your noble prophet’s ascendance is closed by the orders of the Zionists…. [there is] a coming attack by the group to the Israeli websites.”

ADL documented a number of attacks since 2012 against Jewish institutional websites. Earlier this month, ADL issued an alert to warn U.S. synagogues against this uptick in the number of online attacks.

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