Calling Israel an “Apartheid State” Has Its Roots in Soviet-Style Disinformation Techniques

July 23, 2021 | Dan Diker and Yechiel Leiter
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In the 1980s and 90s, it was a common refrain in some circles of the hard left that the U.S. government had created AIDS or deliberately spread it to kill gays, African Americans, or both. Later on, Soviet defectors explained how the KGB had concocted this theory, planted it in an English-language newspaper in New Delhi, and simply allowed it circulate. A similar process explains the widespread belief, detached from reality, that Israel is an “apartheid state.” And the similarities are not coincidental, write Dan Diker and Yechiel Leiter:

Beginning in the late 1960s, PLO officials regularly underwent military and political-warfare training in Moscow and other Soviet satellite countries such as North Vietnam and Cuba. . . . “Active measures,” [as information warfare was known in Soviet parlance], have been used by the PLO, Hamas, and the Iranian regime. Ironically, the signing of the Oslo Accords between the PLO and Israel intensified the phenomenon of disinformation and incitement rather than eliminating it.

Disinformation on American university campuses has metastasized in recent years via both student and faculty groups. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), with over 200 branches on American college campuses, has become a main advocate for Hamas. SJP has also invited former convicted Palestinian terrorists . . . as keynote campus speakers. SJP sponsors the annual “Israel Apartheid Week” on hundreds of campuses across the U.S. and Europe, [which] has led to anti-Semitic assaults and harassment against Jewish students.

In the same spirit, scores of Jewish and Israeli academics signed a public letter of condemnation in 2016 excoriating the German Bundestag’s resolution that the BDS movement is anti-Semitic. Anti-Zionist groups, including If Not Now and Jewish Voice for Peace, have actively advocated the dismantling of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. . . . In this way, Jewish groups have normalized a propaganda narrative against Israel rooted in Soviet ideology and in such terminology as “settler colonialist,” “imperialist,” and “racist.”

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