Mustafa Abu Sneineh
Middle East Eye / February 8, 2022
Advert criticizing rights group appears at the top of search results on Google when searching for Amnesty International.
Israel‘s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sponsored an advert to appear at the top of search results on Google when searching for Amnesty International, which lambasts the human rights group as “antisemitic”.
Following Amnesty’s release last week of a report portraying Israel as an apartheid state, the Israeli government has pursued a media campaign against the organization, including describing the 280-page report as “full of lies”.
The advert on Google directs readers to a webpage labelling Amnesty as “just another radical organization that echoes propaganda with no examination” and claiming that “instead of seeking facts, Amnesty quotes lies spread by terrorist organizations”.
The webpage also contains tens of articles published on US and Israeli media platforms, showcasing Israel’s “diverse” culture, with other pieces discrediting Amnesty’s report as “lies”.
It also features a video highlighting the names and faces of Palestinian citizens of Israel, from the Druze and Muslim communities, who are part of the current Israeli government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC), advertisers can use Google Adwords to make their adverts appear at the top of Google search results and be charged each time a user clicks on the advertised webpage.
The Israeli government advert shows up most times when typing Amnesty International into the search engine.
Marc Owen Jones, an academic and an expert on digital disinformation, tweeted that another pro-Israel group called StandWithUs had also taken “out another Google Ad attacking Amnesty”.
However, he added, “when you click on the link, it takes you to a petition about the UN. Surely this is misleading/misrepresentation? #disinformation.”
Anshel Pfeffer, a high-profile Israeli analyst, described the Israel government’s reaction to the Amnesty report as “hysterical”, suggesting in Haaretz, for whom he writes, that it should have “let this report wither on the vine,” instead of embarking on an “all-out attack on Amnesty”.
In its report, Amnesty said that Israel’s “system of institutionalized segregation and discrimination against Palestinians, as a racial group, in all areas under its control amounts to a system of apartheid, and a serious violation of Israel’s human rights obligations”.
The organization said that the almost two million Palestinian citizens of Israel and the five million Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip had fallen victims to this “apartheid regime”.
Middle East Eye had not received comment from either Amnesty International or Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time of publishing.
Mustafa Abu Sneineh is journalist, poet and staff writer at Middle East Eye