The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

April 18, 2024: Israel Has Formed a Task Force to Carry Out Covert Campaigns at US Universities

The author will be interviewed by Allen Ruff on Thursday, April 18 from 12 noon – 1 pm on WORT 89.9 FM, live online, or future archive.

A major Israeli news site says Israel’s foreign affairs and diaspora affairs ministries are behind the operation.

William I. Robinson, TRUTHOUT, March 23, 2024

Pro-Palestine student demonstrators wave flags and wear keffiyehs at a march in New York City
Demonstrators march in solidarity with two Columbia University student groups which were recently banned from campus for their support of Palestine, on November 15, 2023, outside of Columbia University in New York City. (ANDREW LICHTENSTEIN / CORBIS / GETTY IMAGES)

As worldwide protest escalates over Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, academic freedom and free speech are under all-out attack on university campuses in the United States, not just from university administrations and pro-Israeli groups, but now directly from the highest levels of the Israeli state. In a story that has been largely ignored in the Western press, the Israeli news website Ynetnews, one of the largest media outlets in the country, reported that the Israeli government has launched what appears to be a wide-ranging covert campaign to harass and intimidate students, faculty, and administrators into silence.

According to the report, the Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora Affairs ministries have established a task force to carry out “shaming and pressuring” operations at U.S. universities. The task force, chaired by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and led by senior government officials, drew up a multifaceted “action plan,” according to Ynetnews, involving political and psychological operations against its critics. The plan aims at “inflicting economic and employment consequences on antisemitic [read: pro-Palestinian/anti-genocide] students and compelling universities to distance them from their campuses.” The plan specifies that actions taken “should not have the signature of the State of Israel on it.”

The first plank in the plan is described as the “consciousness axis.” It calls for “personal, economic and employment repercussions for the distributors of antisemitism.” According to the plan, the inter-ministerial task force will carry out “naming and shaming” by “publicizing the names of those generating antisemitism on campuses — both students and faculty and impacting the employment of those identified as the perpetrators of antisemitism.” Those targeted “will struggle to find employment in the U.S. and will pay a significant economic price for their conduct.”


The plan specifies that “the Foreign Ministry and [Israeli] representatives in the U.S. are in contact with professional unions to recruit them to act against antisemitism and exert pressure on university heads.” It notes that pressuring employers to blacklist pro-Palestinian students “has already happened in major law firms in the U.S.,” and that “if a university knows that the chances of its students finding employment have decreased, the university administration will act against those antisemitic students to avoid harming the university’s ranking.”





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