Australia/Israel Review

Teheran’s Australian propagandists back Putin’s Ukraine war

May 4, 2022 | Ran Porat

Former Tim Anderson student and fellow pro-Iranian propagandist Jay Tharappel joins in the pro-Moscow pile-on (Screenshot)
Former Tim Anderson student and fellow pro-Iranian propagandist Jay Tharappel joins in the pro-Moscow pile-on (Screenshot)

Among the first countries to support Russia in its murderous invasion of Ukraine were the authoritarian regimes of Syria and (more cautiously) Iran. Hence, it is not surprising that Australian propagandists for Teheran and Damascus quickly followed suit and started pushing Moscow’s narrative to Australian audiences, including fake news, conspiracy theories and lies.


Anderson – Bucha massacre “staged by Ukrainian Nazis”

Disgraced Sydney University academic Tim Anderson is the most prominent public persona among this pro-Iranian and pro-Russian group in Australia. As revealed previously in the AIR, Anderson is a leading figure in the local branch of Iran’s global propaganda organisation Al-Tajamu, which disseminates in Australia the hatred-infused, anti-West and antisemitic messages dictated by Teheran. This includes support for Iran’s proxy terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Yemen’s Houthis, and cheering for the murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

On social media, Anderson has been sharing Moscow-fabricated – or at least inspired – content with his more than 60,000 followers. Below are a few examples from recent weeks.

On April 7, Anderson labelled the accusations Russia committed war crimes during the attack on the Ukrainian town of Bucha “‘cry wolf’ stunts and false flag atrocities.” This recalls his previous online efforts to paint as ‘false’ the allegations (later proven true) that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people.

“But the war propaganda machine moves on, creating new scams,” concluded Anderson regarding Bucha. His post was accompanied by a picture saying: “Was alleged Russian Army Massacre of Civilians at Bucha Actually a False Flag Event Staged by Ukrainian Nazis?”

A few weeks earlier (March 23) Anderson offered Twitter praise for an online interview with pro-Russian propagandist Gonzalo Lira, arguing that “The Russian invasion, unlike US invasions, has not attacked civilian infrastructure like electricity, telephony, internet, water.” In fact, Moscow has attacked Ukraine’s internet and the power grid during the war. The Russians may not have destroyed other infrastructure because they themselves are using it, for example, for communications and intelligence gathering.

Anderson persistently toes the Moscow line in calling the Ukrainians ‘Nazis’. “It cannot be ignorance that drives the #NATO embedded media to support #NeoNazis in #Mariupol,” he said in a tweet. “There are dozens of reports on the history, ideology and practice of Ukraine’s far-right groups, and how they are embedded in the #Kiev regime.”

Anderson depicts the Russian army as the ‘saviors’ of Ukrainian citizens from their own soldiers, in this social media post from Mar 21: “#NATO war media writes about but doesn’t listen to #Mariupol residents: “#Ukrainian army threw us out of our homes to take firing positions, old people and kids. They locked families in the basements and abandoned them. The #Russian troops rescued us, they are our brothers.”

The fact that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish created an opening for Anderson to add anti-Israel slurs to the mix. Following the Ukrainian President’s speech to the Israeli Knesset (March 20), Anderson argued that Zelensky “plays the #Zionist card to the #Israeli Knesset knowing very well that #Apartheid #Israel has already helped arm #NeoNazis embedded in the #Kiev regime which he currently represents.”


Tharappel – Ukrainian-Israeli businessman “wants WW3”

Jay (José) Tharappel, a former student of Anderson’s, is another senior member of Al-Tajamu Australia. Accordingly, he is also busy spreading the Russian narrative here.

Blaming Washington for the conflict, Tharappel argued (March 18) in a Twitter post that “The Ukrainian tragedy begins with the US cultivating those Ukrainian elements who collaborated with the German invasion of the USSR, and eventually weaponising them against Russia.”

Adding an ugly touch of conspiracy and perhaps antisemitism, he also argued (March 18) that Ukrainian-Israeli-Cypriot billionaire, businessman, and politician Ihor Kolomoisky is behind the war: “Zelensky to Russia: We won’t join NATO. Zelensky to NATO: Shoot Russian planes. Kolomoisky clearly wants WW3”.

On March 17, Tharappel shared on his Twitter account a post promoting a conspiracy theory that Ukraine is faking the killing of its own people to satisfy the media. “The neo-Nazi Azov false flag in the Mariupol Drama Theater was known by local residents 3 days before the explosion. On social networks, they explained how ‘Azov have gathered women and children in the drama theater and are going to blow it up to blame the Russian military’.” The original post he cited has since become unavailable after Twitter suspended the account which posted it. While the reasons for the suspension remain unclear, it is not unlikely this is was because it was a Russian fake news account.


CCHS: Justifying Russia’s invasion against “Ukrainian fascism”

The Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies (CCHS) is an allegedly academic body headed by Anderson which is in fact just a platform for dispensing yet more pro-Teheran and pro-Damascus propaganda. Recently, the centre’s website was enlisted to aid the Russian public relations effort in Australia.

For that purpose, CCHS published (March 23) a piece by Canadian apologist for the Syrian government Aaron Maté, titled “By using Ukraine to fight Russia, the US provoked Putin’s war.” In it, the author puts the blame for the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Washington: “The US policy of using Ukraine as cannon fodder has accompanied a bid to incorporate it into NATO. Compounding the dangers of a hostile military alliance on Russia’s borders, the US has also methodically dismantled the Cold War-era arms control treaties that limited the arsenals of the world’s two top nuclear powers.”

CCHS has strongly pushed the Russian fable that Ukraine is a Nazi country. Maté claims that the Ukrainian army includes neo-Nazis: “In the fall of 2014, the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion was formally incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard, making post-Maidan Ukraine ‘the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces,’ the Ukrainian-American journalist Lev Golinkin later observed.” Other articles published on CCHS’s website include texts highlighting past ties between the Ukrainians and the Nazis during WWII, as well as stories such as “Russian communists call for anti-fascist front against ‘Nato-led nazification of Ukraine” and “The roots of Ukrainian fascism.”

A popular Russian-manufactured propaganda line repeated by CCHS is to argue that Washington is behind the rise of supposed fascist elements ruling Ukraine. For example, the centre republished claims that first appeared on the conspiracy website CovertAction, alleging ties between the US trade union federation the AFL-CIO and a “Nazi Friendly Union in Ukraine.” CCHS also featured a video by anti-Israel US academic John Mearsheimer, arguing (March 6) that “the Obama regime orchestrated the 2014 Kiev coup” which, Mearsheimer claims, “wrecked” Ukraine.

Similarly, the pamphlet “25 Questions about Crimea” frames the issues using Russian terminology to back Russian claims – for example, one question is “Why isn’t the reunification of Crimea with Russia considered a Russian occupation?”

On March 11, CCHS ran “The Ukraine War Propaganda Blitz” – an alleged media critique by the UK-based extreme left-leaning Media Lens, a website which has been accused of repeatedly minimising the atrocities of dictators such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. According to CCHS, the Media Lens critique concerning Ukraine “reflects on the latest propaganda storm from the NATO embedded war media.”

Anderson and his followers have once again demonstrated that their supposed “work” is not so much an example of “free speech”, but a vehicle to spread propaganda generated by authoritarian and hostile foreign governments.

Dr. Ran Porat is an AIJAC Research Associate. He is also a Research Associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University and a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Reichman University Herzliya.


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