An operative of Israel’s global censorship campaign has admitted to exaggerating claims of anti-Semitism in order to engineer crackdowns on supporters of Palestinian rights.
In the latest instance, Benjamin Weinthal has apparently succeeded in persuading PayPal to close down the account of the French online publication Agence Media Palestine.
This constitutes censorship as it denies journalists the means to raise money for their work and retaliates against them for ideas they express.
Agence Media Palestine says it is considering legal action.
Weinthal presents his efforts as reportage for The Jerusalem Post on the actions of companies like PayPal, but what he really does is instigate crackdowns by feeding information – by his own admission distorted – about those he is targeting.
Weinthal is a “research fellow” at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, an American neoconservative group that works closely with the Israeli government, and which has attempted to smear the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights as linked to Hamas and Iran.
In a 2016 conversation about Israel lobby activities taking place in Europe, revealed here for the first time, Weinthal described how he persuades politicians to crack down on those he claims are anti-Semitic because of their criticisms of Israel.
“You have to exaggerate to get these ideas across, because they don’t understand what contemporary anti-Semitism is, many of them,” Weinthal explained.
While admitting that such smear tactics are a necessary part of his work, Weinthal took credit for getting journalists Max Blumenthal and David Sheen banned from the Bundestag, the German parliament, in 2014.
Weinthal described how he sent “material” to German Green Party politician Volker Beck smearing Blumenthal – who is Jewish – as being like Horst Mahler, a former left-wing activist who became a Nazi.
Weinthal also described how he has contacted PayPal and banks that provide services to civil society and human rights groups in order to pressure them to close accounts.
He said that his work targets civic groups across France, Germany and Austria.