Leaked scenes from censored documentary reveal Israel lobbyist Noah Pollak astroturfing an anti-Palestinian protest
Exclusive leaked scenes from Al Jazeera’s “The Lobby – USA” documentary show how Emergency Committee for Israel Executive Director Noah Pollak and the Hoover Institution astroturfed an inflammatory protest against the 2016 Students for Justice in Palestine national conference.
by Max Blumenthal
The Grayzone Project has released scenes from an investigative Al Jazeera undercover documentary, “The Lobby – USA,” whose publication was blocked by the government of Qatar under Israel lobby pressure.
The footage reveals how Emergency Committee on Israel Executive Director Noah Pollak and the right-wing Hoover Institution organized an astroturfed a protest aimed at disrupting the 2016 Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) national conference.
According to one Hoover Institution campus fellow, “This is the first foot soldier activity that I think we’ve been forced to do.”
A Hoover fellow who identified himself as “Marshall,” explained the background of the protest: “It was basically like Noah Pollak coming in and being like, ‘Look, there are these jihadis who basically support suicide bombing, and they’re on a campus and you have to stop them.'”
“It’s a chance to shout at Arabs,” another fellow interjected.
Marshall, who is African American, divulged his fear that some media outlet might publish “a photo of Deon [another Hoover Institute fellow] and me together, and we’re just like clearly identifiable. They’re like, “Oh, who are these traitors who sold out to the Jewish conspiracy for money?'”
He then joked: “I’m like, ‘We did! We cost $50,000 plus benefits.”
Later, as the bus neared the SJP event, Marshall aired more doubts about the staged protest: “No, no, no — this is astroturfing… It’s when you set up fake protests.”
“It’s not that astroturfing is wrong, it’s just that your astroturf has to be, like, committed,” he lamented.
Months before Al Jazeera’s investigative unit went undercover in the Israel lobby, it interviewed me about the way the lobby operates. In the footage presented in this clip, I can be seen explaining that its outfits in Washington have been “manufacturing the image of a grassroots movement by taking corporate money and basically paying people to appear as activists.”
A censorship campaign to conceal Israel lobby dirt
Pollak’s Emergency Committee for Israel is part of a coalition of right-wing and Israel lobbying organizations that have devoted increasing resources to undermining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS. Al Jazeera’s censored “The Lobby” documentary exposes intensive collaboration between these US-based cut-outs, the Israeli military-intelligence apparatus, and pro-Israel oligarchs like Sheldon Adelson and Adam Milstein.
For that reason, Israel lobby forces enacted a pressure campaign that appears to have succeeded in suppressing Al Jazeera’s release of “The Lobby.” The campaign consisted of visits by high profile Israel lobbyists Alan Dershowitz and Morton Klein to Doha, as well as threats from Congress to force Al Jazeera to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act if it aired the documentary. Qatar has since donated $250,000 to Klein’s Zionist Organization of America and other hardline Israel lobby outfits.
Electronic Intifada reported in June that Qatar decided to nix “The Lobby” over “national security concerns.” According to reporters Asa Winstanley and Ali Abunimah, there were concerns in Qatari governing circles that release of the documentary could even prompt the US to pull its Al Udeid Airbase from the Gulf country at a time when it was under embargo from Saudi Arabia and UAE, both close allies of Israel and the US.
Despite the ban, pieces of the documentary have begun to trickle out. This August 27, Electronic Intifada released footage identifying Adam Milstein as a moving force behind the malicious anti-Palestinian blacklisting operation known as Canary Mission. The report came on the heels of a Grayzone exclusive naming pro-Israel lawyer Howard David Sterling as the owner of Canary Mission’s web domain.
The footage revealed here by the Grayzone shows in vivid detail how the Israel lobby has compensated for its lack of grassroots influence by essentially paying for protesters.
Xenophobic diatribes and terrorism charges “just to provoke everyone”
When the Hoover Institute conservative campus cadres arrived at their protest destination, they were herded into a room to receive their marching orders from Pollak and Yael Lerman Mazar, the director of legal affairs for the Israel lobbying outfit, Standwithus.
Lerman urged the protesters to use “peaceful, good language.” At the same time, she instructed them to “stay on message” with reporters by emphasizing that “SJP is a hate group” and that “SJP endorses violence, terrorism, things like that.”
Among the outlets that covered the staged protest was the Free Beacon, a neoconservative website whose publisher, Michael Goldfarb, has also served as an advisor to Pollak’s Emergency Committee.
When the protesters finally assembled to confront SJP members, they unveiled provocative banners and barked inflammatory taunts.
“Hey SJP, what do you think of this? Resistance? Child suicide bombers?” Pollak shouted at the student activists.
“Real baby killers, these terrorists. They kill women, they kill children, they don’t care about anything,” a Hoover fellow exclaimed.
“They rape women too, all the time,” remarked another.
During a private conversation with “Tony,” the Al Jazeera undercover reporter who filmed the documentary with a hidden camera, Pollak explained his smash-mouth strategy: “The activism has to be very provocative and, like, attention getting and, like, total no-fucks-given. We’re going to be more pro-Israel than you can even imagine. Just to, like, provoke everyone.”
In arguing that his tactics were more likely to find an audience in the US than in the home country of “Tony,” the Israel lobbyist unleashed a xenophobic diatribe.
“The majority of Americans are pro-Israel,” Pollak said. “Whereas, if you take a poll of Israel in the UK, it’s just pure hatred of Israel. You’re country, like, basically let half of fucking Pakistan move in. So you have a different problem than we do here.”