Mossad role in Israel’s war against BDS confirmed

Israeli minister Gilad Erdan (center)

Asa Winstanley

The Electronic Intifada  /  June 14, 2019

This week the Israeli newspaper Haaretz confirmed something that The Electronic Intifada has been reporting for years.

The Mossad, reputedly Israel’s most ruthless and violent spy agency, is involved in the war against BDS, the nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.

Israel’s strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan leads Israel’s fight against BDS.

Erdan’s official diary for 2018, obtained through a freedom of information request, shows that he met with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to discuss “the struggle against the boycott,” the paper revealed.

As The Electronic Intifada reported last year, a meeting between Erdan and the head of Mossad was previously confirmed on at least one other occasion – in 2016 – along with meetings with heads of other spy agencies.

Since 2015, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs has effectively been Israel’s anti-BDS ministry.

It is largely staffed by veterans of Israeli spy agencies, especially military intelligence.

Sima Vaknin-Gil, the civil servant responsible for leading the ministry’s day to day operations, worked for 20 years in Israel’s air force intelligence, and still holds her ranks as a reservist.

This ministry is involved in a global campaign of what one Israeli journalist has called “black ops” against Palestinian campaigners, human rights defenders and solidarity activists.

Despite plowing tens of millions of dollars into this war against civil society activists working for justice and equality, in private Israel’s anti-BDS forces admit their campaign is not working.

A secret report by a ministry-linked think tank in 2017 candidly admits to Israel’s failure to stem the “impressive growth” and “significant successes” of BDS. Obtained by The Electronic Intifada, the report states that, despite increasing anti-BDS spending by a factor of 20, “results remain elusive.”

“The struggle against the boycott”

Haaretz’s report independently confirms The Electronic Intifada’s previous reporting and updates the general picture.

The paper obtained the diary thanks to a freedom of information request by Hatzlaha, the same Israeli transparency organization that obtained Erdan’s 2016 diary.

The new Haaretz report also confirms that Erdan’s meeting with the Mossad was explicitly about fighting BDS.

The 2016 diary entry did not list the topic of discussion between Erdan and the Mossad chief – although given Erdan’s brief the topic could have been little else than BDS.

Erdan’s ministry operates what it calls the “battle” against BDS via front groups and proxies around the world, especially in the US, the UK and other Western countries.

The minister, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has admitted to working through “bodies around the world who do not want to expose their connection with the state.”

Lies and murder

In 2017, The Electronic Intifada revealed that Erdan’s 2016 diary also listed several meetings with British lawmakers and key Israel lobby figures, including Eric Pickles and Stuart Polak – both members of the UK’s unelected upper chamber the House of Lords and leaders of Conservative Friends of Israel.

Given the involvement of the Mossad in many brutal murders and kidnappings over the years, BDS activists may be very concerned by these developments.

Mossad’s targets have included Palestinian resistance fighters, poets, writers and unarmed activists.

The Palestinian communist and legendary writer Ghassan Kanafani was murdered along with his niece Lamisby a Mossad car bomb in Lebanon in 1972.

A Mossad double agent is also said to be behind the unsolved murder of iconic Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Aliin London in 1987.

This particular killing, and Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the police investigation, led the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher to expel three Israeli diplomats and briefly close the Mossad’s London base.

The list of the Mossad’s crimes is long, but they have ultimately failed to extinguish the flame of Palestinian resistance.

Its prospects of stamping out the BDS movement are scarcely more promising.

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London