The Electronic Intifada / May 26, 2023
In March 2022, The Electronic Intifada revealed how notorious Zionist lobbying group We Believe in Israel was attempting to secure the removal of rapper Lowkey from streaming giant Spotify due to his strident support for Palestinian liberation.
The effort prompted a petition opposing it, garnering tens of thousands of signatures. And Lowkey remains on Spotify.
But true to form, the lobbying group is undeterred, and has ramped up its campaign since.
At the core of the censorious complaint were six specific tracks of “particular concern,” which express solidarity with Palestine and its people. Four were recorded by Lowkey, another by Ambassador MC, and another by Shadi al-Bourini and Qassem al-Najjar, both Palestinians.
At the time, Rachel Blain, We Believe In Israel’s campaign director, falsely declared Lowkey’s three-part Long Live Palestine fueled “anti-Semitic tropes about money, power and influence.”
Fast forward to March this year, and We Believe In Israel, with help from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, succeeded in having Shadi al-Bourini and Qassem al-Najjar’s “Udrub Udrub Tel Abib” (Strike a Blow at Tel Aviv) removed from Spotify.
Two other songs, “Arabic Katyusha” and “The Death of Israel”, will also no longer be available on the platform.
This development was hailed triumphantly by the two organizations, and Zionist journal of record The Algemeiner. In the process, it was disclosed that pro-Israel lobby group the Board of Deputies had reported the problem to the British government’s Digital Culture, Media, and Sport minister, Lucy Frazer.
She was no doubt a receptive audience, given she is a former intern for the Israeli justice ministry.
“It is shocking that the Digital Culture, Media and Sports minister is being lobbied in this way, let alone her personal history of interning at Israel’s Ministry of Justice,” Lowkey told The Electronic Intifada. “Surely, in any properly functioning political system this conflict of interest would not be possible.”
We Believe In Israel – which by its own admission works with Israel’s embassy in Britain – enjoys another direct line to the British government. The aforementioned Rachel Blain is now public affairs director of Conservative Friends of Israel.
Former Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan, a Conservative supporter of Palestinian rights throughout his time in politics, has charged that the Conservative Friends of Israel blocked his appointment as minister for the Middle East at Israeli direction.
Blain’s LinkedIn profile states she is a former intern at the Board of Deputies, and also an unspecified “International Embassy in London.”
It would be surprising if this wasn’t Israel’s.
A serious operator
We Believe in Israel’s crusade against pro-Palestinian musicians intensified significantly in June 2022, when the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) joined Spotify’s newly-formed Safety Advisory Council.
Ostensibly, the organization’s role “was to help curb the spread of misinformation” on the platform. But The Electronic Intifada recently exposed ISD’s involvement in covert spying operations against Palestinians on behalf the British government.
It was founded by George Weidenfeld, formerly political advisor and chef de cabinet to Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann, who was described in a since-retracted New Statesman article as, “a serious operator at the level of government, editors and media proprietors,” using his “discreet” influence to suppress critical media coverage of the Zionist state.
ISD’s current chair is Michael Lewis, formerly a key player in the United Jewish Israel Appeal, which has been described as “Britain’s major fundraising organization for Israel.”
Lewis was also a deputy chairman and sponsor of the Britain Israeli Communication Research Centre.
Spotify’s senior legal and business affairs counsel, Andrew Joseph, meanwhile, spent two years in the Israeli military’s Nahal Infantry Brigade. Spotify itself is partnered with Riverside.fm, an Israeli firm providing high-quality audio and video recording services online.
Boasting Hillary Clinton as a user, Riverside.fm’s staff is rife with Israeli army veterans. For example, a “senior backend engineer” at the company, Yan Nirman, is a four-year veteran of the military’s J6 and Cyber Defense Directorate. Chen Portsia, a data analyst, likewise spent four years in the army, finishing up as “team commander.”
The Spotify odds seem stacked against Lowkey. Yet, neither he nor his many fans will be intimidated by the Israel lobby’s war against him, he told The Electronic Intifada, just as Palestinian people the world over remain defiant in the face of never ending Zionist attempts to erase them from public view.
“It is disturbing that organizations with clear links to the group which initiated this campaign are placed in positions of authority when it comes to deciding which content is or isn’t safe on Spotify’s platform,” he said. “A huge number of people are opposed to this, and will make their presence felt if Spotify bows to the lobby’s demands.”
Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist