AIJAC analyst Oved Lobel recently pointed out on the AIJAC website that Iran, like Russia, has an extensive history of using fake social media accounts spreading fake news to try to influence election outcomes. More than this, it has a specific history of interfering in British politics, and in 2017 Facebook took down a large network of over 600 fake profiles, pages, and accounts linked to Iranian-backed operations to promote Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as the Scottish National Party (SNP). Lobel pointed out the likelihood that Iranian-linked forces might attempt to interfere in the British general election on Dec. 12, presumably to try to benefit the same two parties.
New evidence from Britain shows that Lobel was dead right – with the Iranian-client Hamas linked to a pro-Corbyn activist group called the KhamakarPress, which has a website, a Facebook and Twitter presence, and a WhatsApp group.
The British researcher and blogger David Collier has been able to demonstrate that:
• KhamakarPress has many Gaza-based members and its WhatsApp admin is Wafa Aludaini, a propagandist based in Gaza with links to numerous European anti-Israel groups and individuals.
• The “Aithoraya Institute for media and communication” website lists the same Wafa Aludaini as in charge of its media and communication section.
• The Aithoraya Institute for media and communication website says that it is run by Hoda Naem, a Hamas official and a deputy in the Palestinian Legislative Council.
• Many other individuals listed as associated with the Aithoraya Institute, such as Suzan Ziyada and Ibrahim Abu Naja, routinely put out material that appears to be official Hamas propaganda.
In other words, KhamakarPress, seems to be run by someone who is part of what appears to be an official Hamas propaganda outfit, the Aithoraya Institute for media and communication, headed by a known Hamas official.
So what is the KhamakarPress doing that is relevant to the British election? Collier shows it has been actively sending out explicit “missions” to its followers to carry out pro-Corbyn acts on social media. These missions are numbered and labelled “Mission 1”, “Mission 2” etc, and include telling its agents to:
• Vote for Jeremy Corbyn in polling on the winner of the UK election debate.
• Sending out and retweeting articles from the tiny pro-Corbyn Jewish group, Jewish Voice for Labour.
• “Stand with Corbyn against fake charges of antisemitism” – with specific Corbyn critical tweets from pro-Israel British groups listed as the target.
• To target comments at two viral videos which show Corbyn in a bad light on twitter, with five specific suggested phrases agents were to use, but also a warning not to simply cut and paste them. At least 60 users, almost all of whose accounts were created in the last few months, were identified as using versions of the stock phrases recommended.
Meanwhile, in addition to the KhamakarPress findings, there are separate allegations that another Hamas-affiliated Gaza resident, Walid Abu Rouk, was a manager of the influential “We support Jeremy Corbyn” Facebook page, with some 72,000 followers.
So it seems unequivocal that Hamas-linked groups in Gaza are orchestrating pro-Corbyn activities via front social media groups and likely using fake or misrepresented accounts as well. Such Iranian-linked interference in Western elections deserves the same outrage that similar Russian interference has generated in the past.
The PA court out
The Palestinian Authority (PA) thought it was onto a great thing at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague – but may now be having second thoughts.
The Court, established by the Rome Statute of 1998, is intended to ensure that perpetrators of the most egregious crimes known to humanity would not go unpunished. However, from the beginning, the ICC has been politicised in various ways – including by being tied to the highly political UN General Assembly, on which it depends for much of its funding.
Israel is not a party to the Court, but the Palestinians were able to use the UN link to try to get it to investigate Israel’s leaders. The PA applied for membership in the ICC as the State of Palestine, despite not meeting the criteria for statehood under relevant international law. This was turned down in 2009 – but the problem was referred to the UN General Assembly which predictably passed resolutions which essentially forced the ICC to accept Palestine as a member in 2015.
The PA then gleefully pressed the ICC to investigate Israel – even though it was not a member – for alleged actions on what it claimed was the sovereign territory of the State of Palestine.
But the Palestinians are apparently so used to getting their way in international forums that they did not consider their own vulnerabilities – such as the extensive Palestinian involvement in terrorism.
Thus the Palestinians were “outraged”, according to the Associated Press, by the Dec. 5 ICC report on the “preliminary examination” of the “situation in Palestine” being conducted by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
While the report did raise alleged excessive use of force by Israel against Gaza demonstrators and express “concern” over Israeli PM Netanyahu’s proposal to annexe the Jordan Valley, it had a lot to say about Palestinian behaviour as well.
It raised rocket attacks from Gaza, allegations of Gazans being used as human shields, and the alleged torture of civilian detainees by PA security services. But what really got the Palestinian’s goat was Bensouda raising legal concerns about the “pay for slay” program, whereby the PA financially rewards imprisoned terrorists and the families of those killed carrying out terror attacks.
It was this issue that caused the PA Foreign Ministry to denounce the report as relying on “misleading narratives of politicised nature under the cover of false equivalence.”
Sometimes you really do need to be careful what you wish for.