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The gaslighting of Ilhan Omar

Opinion
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After years of activists, journalists, and scholars exposing the overreach and influence of the pro-Israel lobby on Congress with regard to Israel, Palestine, and Iran, one would think that criticism of the Israel lobby from within Congress would not become an international scandal.

Not so. Last weekend, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s weighed in that pro-Israel attacks on her and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, in part for challenging unconstitutional legislation penalizing boycotts of Israel, were “all about the Benjamins” meaning that the critics were primarily interested in financial support from the Israel lobby. According to The Forward opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon, this was an antisemitic tweet and mentioning Zionist lobbying money is akin to Neo-Nazi style conspiracy theories about “Jewish puppet-masters controlling stuff”. When Ilhan Omar clarified her tweet was a reference to AIPAC, Ungar-Sargon condemned her comments as antisemitic on behalf of America’s Jews. Ungar-Sargon was echoed by Chelsea Clinton as well as the Democratic Party leadership. Ilhan Omar apologized amidst repeated attacks on her by the Democratic Party leadership, despite the fact that her statements are objectively true and publicly verifiable. There was no reason she should have been expected to apologize by anyone.

According to Ungar-Sargon, Omar should have criticized AIPAC in a “non-anti-Semitic way,” though that was exactly what she was doing. Ungar-Sargon also used the opportunity to encourage readers to “criticize the occupation” and “stand up for Palestinian civil rights”. She encourages others not to allow Netanyahu to “speak for you as Jew,” though Ungar-Sargon has no qualms about speaking for America’s Jews herself. A much longer essay by Ungar-Sargon in The Forward claims that the Left has “abandoned the Jews,” and defends the Anti-Defamation League’s record as a civil rights organization from leftist critics of the ADL’s past of spying on Arab-Americans and running a police exchange training program with Israel. Ungar-Sargon also argues that the left shouldn’t condemn Zionism because it will exclude, well, Zionists.

This isn’t a new pattern.  The closest term for this self-contradicting ideology is liberal Zionism: adherents do not support Netanyahu, would likely be perceived as “anti-Israel” by others, and may even identify as leftists. Yet they reproduce the same pattern: apologetics for Israel and broad suspicion of virtually any criticism, which is reduced to one of many classical antisemitic tropes.

Here are just a few examples:

In the Washington Post, pro-“human rights” rabbi Jill Jacobs transparently attempts to stigmatize normal empathy with those who suffer under Israeli occupation: Strong language, anger, and even rhetoric that plainly describes Israeli atrocities — such as the killing of babies– are little more than attacks on Jews. Jacobs fears that Jews might “feel unwelcome” if they support Israel, revealing that her concerns about “anti-Semitism” are about preserving support for Israel. Opposing Israeli training of police and Steven Salaita’s comments about Israel’s role in international affairs amounts to “seeing Jews as insidious influencers;” rejecting a nationalistic Jewish connection to historic Palestine, viewing Jewish settlers as “European colonizers,” referring to them as “Zionists” and alleging that Zionism is white supremacy (read: anti-Zionism) amounts to antisemitism. Refusing to “judge how other people carry out their liberation movements” amounts to a “lack of concern for Israeli lives” and is antisemitic. The movement to boycott Israel is “rife with anti-Semitic undertones”. Acceptable sympathy for the Palestinians, per Jacobs, is limited to citing sterile passages of law or encouraging slightly less violent repression of the Palestinians (such as maiming children instead of killing them), while claims of massacre or genocide are dismissed.

Kenneth Stern, the author of a definition of “anti-Semitism” that is now used to criminalize and monitor support for Palestinian rights by multiple governing bodies, has spent years attempting to reconcile liberal values with Zionism, writing extensive literature conflating antisemitism with anti-Zionism and actively lobbying against boycotts of Israel on college campuses.

Emily Shire, a self-described “Zionist” and feminist wrote in the New York Times that she is is critical of certain Israeli government policies” and supports a two-state solution. She asked why she is expected to drop her support for Zionism at feminist rallies, while smearing Palestinian political activist Rasmea Odeh as a member of a “terrorist organization.”

And at a sermon in New York, Rabbi Angela Buchdahl resists the notion that all criticism of Israel is antisemitic — while reducing one criticism of Israel after the next to Jew-hatred.

Liberal Zionists, themselves critical of Israel but having no actual commitment to Palestinians as people, reproduce the same underlying racism of their right-wing counterparts — with the same poisonous consequences — while maintaining the aura of concern for human rights.

The politics of liberal Zionism also underpin the values of a coterie of liberal organizations, like J-Street, a self-proclaimed “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobbying group, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, which regularly raises the specter of phantom left-wing antisemitism, and until recently, according to members that I have talked to, discouraged its members from even discussing Israeli abuses.

And liberal Zionist racism is that much more damning. Shedding the stench of right-wing chauvinism that has blackened Israel’s image in the eyes of people with basic empathy, these writers and political organizations have embraced the time-honored racism of the white moderate, long ago cited by Martin Luther King Jr. as the true stumbling block to advancement. Writing in the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” King wrote,

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

Had King applied his analysis of white people to the relationship between U.S. Jews and Palestine, it would be difficult for him not to come to the same conclusions about liberal Zionists. The running themes in the liberal Zionist broadside against the Left are exactly the same as those of the white moderate: criticisms of Israeli atrocities must be limited and avoid any sense of urgency, while “peace” is premised on preserving an Israeli- and Jewish-dominated hierarchy of needs. Anything more: from the outrage normally reserved for mass killings to the scrutiny we should apply to Israel’s lobbyists, let alone supporting outright resistance to Israel, is unacceptable, alienating, or just too much.

It matters not to liberal Zionist writers that antisemitism in the United States has virtually no institutional support, is not enforced by border agents, police officers, or the military, does not feed news cycles attempting to jump-start wars, or have any meaningful support among mainstream U.S. society, let alone “the Left”. It is true that Jews in the United States must fear unhinged extremists — overwhelmingly from the far-right — but this is markedly different than that threats faced by communities facing daily assaults of state-sanctioned violence. And it is true that there is a history in this country of antisemitism where antisemitism was used to discredit the Civil Rights Movement, underlined turning away Holocaust refugees, and excluded qualified citizens from universities and from purchasing homes in certain towns. But this is not happening today, as Jews in the United States have long ago overcome those shackles and achieved a position of significant privilege.

But in the end this is irrelevant because their feigned concerns are not, and have never been about, antisemitism at all. The attacks on Omar, like the attacks on solidarity with Palestine in general, are motivated by a deeply entrenched racism that sees Arabs and Muslims as subhuman and pervades liberal Zionism as much as it does in any other form of Zionism. Worse, standard empathy for Arabs and Muslims is suspicious, and standard criticisms of those who lobby Congress to kill them, hold them under occupation, or otherwise subject them to genocidal violence amount to coded discrimination against the Jewish settlers colonizing the land.

As such, when criticisms of Israel surface, the critic — and all of us watching — are subjected to gaslighting: a form of psychological abuse in which an abuser attempts to convince his or her victim that something both individuals know to be true is actually false, thereby damaging the victim’s connection to reality. That Israel’s own mouthpieces, including AIPAC, openly admit to using campaign cash to push pro-Israel legislation, should end any ambiguity: Omar and all sensible citizens were being gaslit by the Israel Lobby in the name of preserving the status quo and its decades of silencing Israel’s victims. Unwilling to concede reality, liberal Zionists like Ungar-Sargon, Jill Jacobs, and their ilk reduce Zionist lobbying to little more than an antisemitic fantasy.

The bigotry of liberal Zionist groups also has an effect on those within the Jewish community who reject it. Pro-Palestine organizations like If Not Now which refuses to endorse the movement to boycott Israel, issue a condemnation of Zionism, or support the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands lest they alienate mainstream Jewish groups, and even joined the Democrats in welcoming Ilhan Omar’s apology. And Jewish Voice for Peace, while defending Omar and others from the criticisms panders to conservatives in its own organizing network by conceding basic Palestinian demands, such as refusing to endorse boycotts of Israel until 2015 or refusing to condemn Zionism until 2019, when they released a limited critique of Zionism only after lobbying conservatives within their own organization. That even those Jewish organizations whose sole purpose is to organize Jews against Israeli aggression are stymied in doing so emphasizes exactly how pervasive the entrenched liberal Zionist dehumanization of Palestinians is.

But it would be dishonest to pretend the buck stops with Jewish organizations, and the responsibility to squash liberal Zionism is not theirs alone. Groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now do not operate in a vacuum; even Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim organizations and their personnel equivocate when defending Ilhan. Yousef Munayyer, the head of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, took to Twitter to suggest that Omar’s phrasing was incorrect and rife with “microaggressions” while acceptably nuanced statements about the Israel Lobby were limited to policy experts like himself. “The nuances are extremely important. But the truth is, a tiny number of people are really versed in them,” he wrote in a thread.  Munayyer’s statement thereby pits groundless concerns about antisemitism supposedly emanating from pro-Palestine speech against Israeli oppression itself.

The prominent Muslim organization, MPower Change’s petition in defense of Omar begins by emphasizing her decision to apologize. And even a casual read of the statements from pro-Palestine activists finds one disclaimer after another responding to charges of antisemitism, as if the suspicion against them is reasonable and in need of an explanation — effectively changing the subject away from the suffering of Palestinians.

But others took braver stances. Al-Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition unequivocally defended Omar and Rashida Tlaib, condemned the racism underpinning the attacks on them, pointed out the Israel Lobby’s links to the far-right, and rejected the notion that Zionism has any representative capacity over Jews in the first place. American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) praised Omar for shining a light on power, pointed out the racism underpinning previous attacks on her, and noted that the antisemitism accusations were themselves an extension of a common anti-Muslim stereotype. Finally, the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) saluted Omar’s resistance, condemned the racist undertones of the Israel Lobby’s attacks on her, re-assured her that what she tweeted was “absolutely accurate,” and emphasized that apologies were unnecessary; USPCN refused to take the bait of changing the subject to antisemitism at all.

That Al-Awda, AMP, and USPCN’s refusals to equivocate were not shared by others in the Palestine solidarity movement is disgraceful. Given the circumstances, it is unsurprising that Omar was expected to apologize. Liberal Zionism has killed the wind behind her sails just as it has internally defanged much of the movement for Palestinian rights with cheap racism masquerading as concern for antisemitism.

There was nonetheless one advantage to the gaslighting of Omar: unlike the rest of us, who were gaslit privately in school disciplinary hearings, tenure hearings, employment evaluations, and through angry e-mails, Omar’s abuse happened in front of the future of the Democratic Party. It is much harder to disconnect your victim from reality when your numbers are sizeable; the rest of us see what Ilhan sees.

But that won’t matter until we confront the politics of those who are abusing us. Zionism, its US lobby, or its machinations in the Middle East are still viewed not through the lens of its victims in Palestine, Iran, or even domestically in the United States, but based on whether criticism is anti-Jewish. If we can’t even confront the racism in our own midst, what hope do our representatives have?

Amith Gupta

Amith Gupta is a recent graduate of the New York University School of Law, where he was an Institute for International Law and Justice Scholar. He is a Palestine solidarity activist.

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45 Responses

  1. eljay on February 20, 2019, 2:31 pm

    … Liberal Zionists, themselves critical of Israel but having no actual commitment to Palestinians as people, reproduce the same underlying racism of their right-wing counterparts — with the same poisonous consequences — while maintaining the aura of concern for human rights. …

    “Liberal Zionists” are like the date-rapist friends of the serial rapist: They don’t object to the fact that he kidnaps women, chains them in his basement and brutally rapes them (hell, it’s all just “self-determination” and everyone’s entitled to that); they’d just like him to go about it in a “kinder, gentler” way.

    Dare to speak out against the evil they do and they’ll reconsider the hatefulness and immorality of their actions and choose instead to pursue and uphold justice, equality and human rights slander you with accusations of misandry and “man hatred”.

    • Misterioso on February 21, 2019, 8:37 am

      eljay, et al

      https://newrepublic.com/article/153118/beginning-real-israel-debate-looks-like

      “This Is What the Beginning of a Real Israel Debate Looks Like”
      The New Republic, Feb. 15/19, by Ben Ehrenreich.

      “Before Ilhan Omar came to the national stage, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer tried to discuss pro-Israel lobbying. They were shouted down.”

      “With all the shouting it was easy to miss, but something new happened in Washington this week. If you can’t see it yet, put yourself back in 2006, when everything about a Somali-American, Muslim congresswoman tweeting a line from a Puff Daddy song—as Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar did Sunday evening—would have been unthinkable.

      “In March 2006, two established, neo-realist foreign policy wonks named John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published an article in the London Review of Books. They argued that outsized U.S. support for Israel, which receives more U.S. military aid than any other country on the planet, made little sense in a post–Cold War context in which Israel was no longer a ‘vital strategic asset.’ Mearsheimer and Walt attributed the irrational persistence of this policy to highly effective lobbying efforts ‘to steer US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.’ The Israel Lobby, as they called it, was not a cabal or a conspiracy, but something altogether ordinary in Washington, like the gun lobby or the steel lobby: a ‘loose coalition of individuals and organizations’ encompassing Christian evangelicals, neo-conservatives, and the powerful America Israel Public Affairs Committee, whose support or opposition could make or break a candidate. ‘The bottom line,’ they wrote, ‘is that AIPAC, a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on Congress, with the result that U.S. policy towards Israel is not debated there.’

      “To almost anyone with experience in American electoral politics, Mearsheimer and Walt were stating the obvious: The near unanimity of politicians’ support for Israel resulted not from inborn Zionist sympathies, but rather organizing and influence—which in Washington invariably involves money. The uproar was nonetheless fierce. Pundits lined up to get their kicks in. Jeffrey Goldberg, writing in The Atlantic, called the two authors ‘neo-Lindberghians’ and characterized Walt as a ‘grubby Jew-baiter’ who ‘makes his living scapegoating Jews.’ David Rothkopf, in Foreign Policy, was only slightly more generous: While Mearsheimer and Walt ‘may not be anti-Semites themselves,’ he allowed, ‘they made a cynical decision to cash in on anti-Semitism.’ Jonathan Chait went after them repeatedly in the pages of The New Republic, dismissing their views as ‘simply kooky.’

      “By the time Ilhan Omar walked onto the national stage, a lot had changed, and not much at all. Since 2006, we’ve seen three devastating and overwhelmingly one-sided Israeli assaults on Gaza, the massive expansion of settlements in a brutal and seemingly endless occupation, the collapse of U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations and anything that could be called an Israeli ‘left,’ a widening gulf between Israeli and American Jews, and an Israeli prime minister who went out of his way to embarrass a popular Democratic president and to embrace the neo-fascist right. Ever-larger cracks are appearing in the defensive wall the U.S. media has for years erected around Israel: Critical voices—even Palestinian ones—are increasingly making it into the op-ed pages. Space for debate is finally opening up. And the controversy that blew up around Omar is a foretaste of how bitterly that space will be contested.

      “It began, of course, on Twitter. Omar and fellow Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib both support the movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) as a response to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. On Sunday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to ‘take action; against the pair. ‘This cannot sustain itself,’ McCarthy had said. ‘It’s unacceptable in this country.’

      “McCarthy did not specify what ‘it’ was, but it was probably not anti-Jewish sentiment that riled him: McCarthy, who last fall dipped into the murky waters of conspiracy theory, tweeting that three prominent wealthy Jews—George Soros, Tom Steyer, and Michael Bloomberg—should not be allowed to ‘BUY this election,’ seemed to be referring to Omar and Tlaib’s support for BDS. More than any other policy matter, BDS has highlighted both the power that pro-Israel lobbies continue to exert over American politics and their panic at losing it. No fewer than 26 states have passed legislation to punish supporters of the boycott, a nonviolent tactic that citizens have been using for decades—to end apartheid in South Africa, for instance, or segregation on the buses of Jim Crow Montgomery, Alabama. The Senate’s most urgent priority recently after three weeks of crippling shutdown was to pass Marco Rubio’s Combating BDS Act, which lends a federal blessing to state efforts against the boycott.

      “’It’s stunning,’ journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted Sunday evening, tagging Omar and Tlaib, ‘how much time U.S. political leaders spend defending a foreign nation even if it means attacking free speech rights of Americans.’

      “’It’s all about the Benjamins,’ Omar responded, adding a musical note emoji in reference to the hip-hop lyric. Batya Ungar-Sargon, an editor at the Forward, tweeted to ask Omar whom she was referring to. ‘AIPAC,’ Omar answered.

      “That was enough. With five words and one acronym, Omar had, Ungar-Sargon wrote, placed herself in a long tradition of anti-Jewish paranoia, one that ‘belongs in a Der Stürmer cartoon, not on the Twitterfeed of a U.S. Congresswoman.’ The pile-on began. Openly calling out AIPAC and the role of money in securing a pro-Israel consensus was bad enough, but a sinister and anti-Semitic intent even seemed to be imputed to Omar’s reference to ‘Benjamins,’ i.e. hundred-dollar bills. (Benjamin Franklin was very much a goy.)

      “Nancy Pelosi and the House leadership rebuked Omar. Chuck Schumer jumped in on Twitter, as did Chelsea Clinton. Omar apologized on Monday without exactly backing down, reaffirming ‘the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA, or the fossil fuel industry.’ The following day, President Trump demanded she resign. Mike Pence called for ‘consequences.’ For a minute it seemed like it would be 2006 all over again, only potentially far uglier, since neither Mearsheimer nor Walt wore a hijab.

      “And then, suddenly, it didn’t anymore. Leftist Jews rushed to Omar’s defense, taking to the pages of the Guardian, Jacobin, and The Nation to declare that Omar was right about AIPAC, and that accusing her of anti-Semitism was opportunistic and absurd. Prominent liberal Jewish commentators refused to join the anti-Omar pile-on. Peter Beinart focused on ‘the sick double standard’ of the attacks on Omar. Her tweets had been ‘irresponsible,’ he wrote, but her ‘fiercest critics in Congress are guiltier of bigotry than she is.’ Rothkopf, who had shown little mercy to Mearsheimer and Walt, tweeted that while Omar’s words had been ‘ill-considered,’ it was ‘vitally important we distinguish between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism.’* And Jeremy Ben-Ami, chair of AIPAC’s liberal rival J Street, dismissed the whole affair as ‘overblown,’ issuing a statement warning politicians to ‘refrain from labeling all criticism of Israeli actions or policies as ‘anti-Semitic,’ in a transparent effort to silence legitimate discussion.’

      “By Wednesday, the story was no longer Omar, but the schism within the Democratic Party that the controversy had revealed. CNN, Slate, Politico, Time, and The Washington Post all ran stories on the Democrats’ Israel split, pointing out that only one of the seven Democrats vying for the presidency voted for Rubio’s anti-BDS bill, and citing poll after poll finding Democratic voters’ allegiance to Israel slipping.

      “That story has been developing for years, but what happened in Washington this week was something we haven’t seen before. The imputation of anti-Semitism, an old and much-used tool, was suddenly revealed to be blunt. Critics of Israel have long understood that speaking too loudly would get them silenced and shunned. But Ilhan Omar is still standing. Let the arguing begin.”

  2. Keith on February 20, 2019, 5:25 pm

    AMITH GUPTA- “Ilhan Omar apologized amidst repeated attacks on her by the Democratic Party leadership, despite the fact that her statements are objectively true and publicly verifiable.”

    That being the case, why is she apologizing? Did she set herself up so she could grovel? What BS. She may be a Mondoweiss hero, but not to me. Rather than apologize, she should have criticized Batya Ungar-Sargon, et al, for white arrogance in telling her what colored folks can’t say without being criticized for being uppity. Don’t pick a fight unless you intend on fighting and expect to at least hold your own.

    Also, this seems to me to be straight intimidation not “gaslighting.”

    • genesto on February 21, 2019, 12:28 pm

      I, too, was disappointed in her apology. She could have used the opportunity to express regret for the other side’s not understanding her remarks correctly, then gone on to explain in more detail just what she meant by the lobby’s buying influence in our Congress. There are many quotes she could have used in her rejoinder, a number by members of the lobby itself, boasting of how it has successfully used the ‘Benjamins’ to buy this influence for many years.

      I wouldn’t give up on Omar, though – at least not yet. I expect (or, at least, hope) that she will take other opportunities to shed light on this issue while a sitting Congresswoman, particularly as long as she sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. We all need to encourage her, not criticize or condemn her, if we hope for her to continue the fight.

  3. Marnie on February 20, 2019, 11:04 pm

    Ungar-Sargon represents only one jew with a big mouth full of hatred and vitriol using twitter to spew her hatred and vitriol at Ilhan Omar who spoke an inconvenient but obvious truth. It is and always has been about the benjamins, baby. Those benjamins are provided by a whole lot of people who aren’t jews BTW., but AIPAC is the loudest and has the most. AIPAC is just like the NRA. I sure wish they (AIPAC) would publish the grades they’ve given to the politicians like the NRA does. Or is that another inconvenient truth?

    Ilhan Omar needs to use the same logic that the zionists and their enablers use – never ever apologize – especially when you’ve done nothing to apologize for. #IstandwithIlhan

  4. Shingo on February 21, 2019, 4:32 am

    This is a superbly written article that addresses so many of the manipulation and dishonesty of Israeli propagandists. I had never thought that these people were bring racist, but now that that you pointed out, it’s so obvious.

    This is made me realise that those that are nearly always accused of being antisemites are those that dare to show any sympathy for Palestianians. That is why the likes of Trump and others who make otherwise antisemitic tropes are always let off the hook. It’s why Tomas Friedman and AIPAC representatives who repeat so called antisemitic tropes are not reprimanded in any way – because none of them are sympathetic in any way to Palestinians.

    The racism angle was clearly apparent in Fareed Zakaria’s oh so pious sermon on the pitfalls of antisemitic tropes. He especially focuses on Tlaib and Omar, warning that as Muslim women of colour, they had to be especially careful.

  5. Neil Schipper on February 21, 2019, 8:20 am

    Amith Gupta uses racism / racist ten times in article.

    Racism is about race, which is about genetics, DNA, geographic location of ancestry.

    “Jews of Israel” contains far, far, far more genetic variation than “Arabs of Palestine”.

    Amith Gupta deforms plain meaning of words and employs Goebellian repetition, anticipating — correctly — that his crazy cat lady readers can be counted on to not notice.

  6. Misterioso on February 21, 2019, 11:32 am

    Just received. Off topic, but important:

    https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/facebook-gives-nod-secret-pro-israel-campaign

    “Facebook gives nod to secret pro-Israel campaign”
    By Ali Abunimah,Media Watch, Electronic Intifada, 21 February 2019

    “Facebook has banned several pages belonging to such viral media outlets as In the Now because they are affiliates of the Russian-funded network RT – even though these media outlets violated none of the social network’s rules.

    “Yet The Electronic Intifada can exclusively reveal that Facebook has given a nod of approval to a network of secretive and deceptive pages set up by The Israel Project, a lobby group that collaborates with the Israeli government and with Israel’s military establishment to influence public opinion against Palestinians.

    “Last week, Facebook took down several pages run by Maffick Media. This came after CNN ran a report that the majority stakeholder of the company ‘is Ruptly, a subsidiary of RT, which is funded by the Russian government.’

    “Often featuring reporter Rania Khalek, one of those outlets, In The Now, creates viral videos on current affairs, including this recent one debunking US claims used to justify the Trump administration’s regime change effort in Venezuela…

    “However, CNN drew on Ben Nimmo of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab as a supposed expert to claim that In The Now journalists ‘routinely boost Kremlin narratives, especially those which portray the West negatively.’

    “A pro-war think tank, The Atlantic Council boasts funders including NATO, the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates, and a slew of arms companies.

    “It’s supposed digital sleuth Nimmo has such a poor track record that he has falsely identified living individuals, including a Ukrainian concert pianist and a British senior citizen, as ‘Russian bots.’

    “CNN also acknowledged that the relationship between Maffick Media and RT was brought to its attention by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a cut-out of the US and NATO-financed German Marshall Fund.

    “The Alliance for Securing Democracy’s ‘advisory council’ is a who’s who of US government figures and right-wing ideologues including former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, neoconservative war hawk Bill Kristol, former CIA acting director Michael Morell, Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chair John Podesta and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis.

    “CNN reporters claimed that their network’s ‘investigation’ uncovered that ‘Russia is paying to produce viral videos aimed at Americans’ – even though the fact that In The Now has Russian funding was not a secret and already widely known.

    “CNN even misquoted Maffick Media chief operating officer J. Ray Sparks to make it seem like he had acknowledged duplicitous behavior by his company to conceal its Russian funding, when he was merely noting that it was ‘standard industry practice’ among all media outlets not to include extensive disclosures about their ownership structures.

    “Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a campaigner against censorship, excoriated CNN as ‘obsessed with, and steadfastly devoted to, pressuring social media companies to censor from the internet political content critical of the US government.’

    “The network also ’employs many ex-agents’ and ‘never disclose the interests of their weapons advertisers in the wars they promote,’ Greenwald added. ‘But they demand Facebook censors others.’

    “Secret Israeli propaganda”

    “In stark contrast to Facebook’s swift removal of pages belonging to media outlets that challenge US government policies, the social network has taken no action against a secret influence campaign run by The Israel Project, a major lobby group.

    “The effort to manipulate unsuspecting Facebook users was revealed in The Lobby – USA, an undercover Al Jazeera documentary that was never broadcast by the network due to censorship by Qatar following pressure from pro-Israel organizations.

    “But The Electronic Intifada obtained a leaked copy of the film and published it in full in November.

    “The Israel Project created a network of seemingly innocuous pages, including Cup of Jane – which has more than half a million followers – Soul Mama, History Bites, We Have Only One Earth and This Explains That.

    “These pages mostly share funny or inspirational material, often with a progressive or feminist tilt, mostly with no connection to Israel.

    “But The Israel Project regularly drops pro-Israel material into the stream of content – while concealing entirely or failing to explicitly acknowledge that the pages are run by a group that works to promote Israel and its government’s policies.

    “In the leaked film, Jordan Schachtel, who worked for The Israel Project at the time, tells the undercover Al Jazeera reporter about the logic and extent of the covert Facebook operation:

    Short video featuring interview with Jordan Schachtel:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=bp88HJxKj-o

    “’We’re putting together a lot of pro-Israel media through various social media channels that aren’t The Israel Project’s channels,’ Schachtel tells the undercover reporter. ‘So we have a lot of side projects that we are trying to influence the public debate with.’

    “’That’s why it’s a secretive thing,” Schachtel adds. ‘Because we don’t want people to know that these side projects are associated with The Israel Project.’

    “The reporter asks if the idea of ‘all the rest of the non-Israel stuff is to allow the Israel stuff to pass better.’

    “’It’s just that we want to like blend in everything,’ Schachtel explains.

    “David Hazony, the managing director of The Israel Project, is also heard telling Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter: ‘There are also things that we do that are completely off the radar. We work together with a lot of other organizations.’

    “’We produce content that they then publish with their own name on it,’ Hazony adds.

    “In September, soon after it revealed The Israel Project-run pages, The Electronic Intifada asked Facebook if the secret influence campaign violated any of Facebook’s policies – particularly in light of the furore over the alleged, though unsubstantiated or false, charges of a massive Russia-backed effort to use social media to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

    “But until now, The Electronic Intifada did not publish Facebook’s response: A spokesperson for Facebook wrote that the company looked at the pages covertly run by The Israel Project and concluded that they ‘don’t violate any of Facebook’s pages policies.’

    “This is hardly surprising given that it was already known that Facebook partners with the Israeli and US governments to delete accounts that those governments do not like.

    “But it is more clear proof that Facebook isn’t concerned about protecting users from unwitting exposure to government propaganda.

    “Rather, it is colluding with the US and allied governments, and government-aligned corporate media like CNN, to suppress reportage and opinion that challenge the United States and its client regimes like Israel.”

  7. genesto on February 21, 2019, 12:30 pm

    I, too, was disappointed in her apology. She could have used the opportunity to express regret for the other side’s not understanding her remarks correctly, then gone on to explain in more detail just what she meant by the lobby’s buying influence in our Congress. There are many quotes she could have used in her rejoinder, a number by members of the lobby itself, boasting of how it has successfully used the ‘Benjamins’ to buy this influence for many years.

    I wouldn’t give up on Omar, though – at least not yet. I expect (or, at least, hope) that she will take other opportunities to shed light on this issue while a sitting Congresswoman, particularly as long as she sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. We all need to encourage her, not criticize or condemn her, if we hope for her to continue the fight.

  8. genesto on February 21, 2019, 12:35 pm

    Congratulations, Amith, for helping to expose the hypocrisy of organizations like JVP, If Not Now, the US Campaign and even MPower Change. Their behavior in calling for a ‘toning down’ of criticism of Israel is more odious and dangerous than the behavior of the extreme, but brutally honest, Zionist fringe.

  9. JustJessetr on February 21, 2019, 11:11 pm

    I’m delighted to see all this internal fighting between MW, If Not Now, and JVP. Perhaps you should all stand in a circle with your rifles aimed and pull the trigger!

  10. klm90046 on February 22, 2019, 2:42 am

    Ilhan Omar’s apology reminds me of something I read many years ago. An opponent of Winston Churchill’s was ranting away in Parliament. Churchill stood up and barked, “The man is a fool and a liar.” There was an uproar: “Unparliamentary language,” “Apologize,” “Take your words back.”

    Churchill stood up and said, “I take my words back.”

    Brilliant, Ilhan Omar! More power to you!!

    • Bumblebye on February 22, 2019, 9:13 am

      Denis Skinner MP, the ‘Beast of Bolsover’:
      “Half the Members opposite are crooks and liars!”
      Told to retract.
      “Ok, half the Members opposite are not crooks and liars!”

      • gamal on February 22, 2019, 12:00 pm

        If I remember correctly Skinner took average male earnings as his ‘salary’ and was the second best value for money MP, after some Conservative guy, and Clare Short, she of the Golden Elephant quip to Zimbabwe, was the second worst value for money MP among her many other failings.

      • RoHa on February 22, 2019, 9:50 pm

        Apparently good old Dennis did not say that.

        https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/04/19/half-fools/

        Considering the things he has said, it is easy to believe that he did.

        If there were more MPs like Dennis Skinner, George Galloway, and Gerald Kaufman, Parliament might get a bit of respect.

      • RoHa on February 22, 2019, 10:42 pm

        “Skinner … was the second best value for money MP, after some Conservative guy.”

        Considering how low the bar is set, that is not much of a compliment. Can you remember who the Conservative guy was?

        ” Clare Short was the second worst value for money MP ”

        Who was the worst?

      • gamal on February 23, 2019, 3:03 am

        Philip Hollobone of Kettering was the best value for money MP and George Galloway was the worst value according to the Telegraph.

      • MHughes976 on February 23, 2019, 10:09 am

        Skinner did per Hansard say c.1980 that another MP who was a member of a Committee ‘had not turned up half the time’. The other, David Alton, protested and Skinner conceded that ‘he had been there the other half of the time’, which was quite witty and quite good humoured. The remark got expanded by the process of mythopoeia. Churchill for his part in February 1906 invented ‘terminologiczl inexactitude’ for ‘falsehood/lie’ and the admiring myth seems to make this into a brave defiance of convention so that he could denounce liars. In fact it was, as far as I can see, a cynical attempt to half-admit but avoid admitting fully that Chinese labourers in the Transvaal were being treated like ‘slaves’ – it would be terminologically inexact to call them that.
        In just the same way maybe a royal baby who was hidden from hostile factions in a Cretan cave and grew up to become a warrior with a lightning motif on his shield was mythicised first into an especial recipient of divine favour and finally into King of Gods and Men, ruling with his thunderbolt. Myth has great power and is very inventive.

      • RoHa on February 23, 2019, 9:30 pm

        The Telegraph must be mad. For sheer entertainment value – and what else is Parliament for? – George Galloway was one of the best.

        (Well, I suppose Parliament also serves the function of keeping the worst unemployables off the streets. )

    • MHughes976 on February 22, 2019, 10:23 am

      I’m not convinced that klm’s Churchill story is authentic. In any case, withdrawing certain words in response to rules of procedure is not the same as ‘unreserved apology’ for what one has said outside a regulated parliamentary space. We seem to be trying to spin this altogether familiar scene – the unprepared, exasperated utterance, the in-haste apology; Helen Thomas, Abbé Pierre – as if it were, this time, a kind of success. (There was a variant on the theme with the much more long-running Goldstone drama.) It’s true that some people have come, a bit tardily when immediacy was needed, to Omar’s defence, which may indeed be a warning that next time the anti-anti-Semitic instant attack squad may have more of a fight on its hands. But for now the old tactics have once again won, the ‘forced to apologise’ label has been hung, to stay for years, round another underserving neck and the usual sharp warning to others has been delivered.
      In the UK we had our typically less colourful but extremely similar drama with Ruth George MP, who was trying to defend Corbyn but found herself after drawing about one breath ‘forced to apologise’, doubtless by Corbyn or his close associates. We tell ourselves that the accusation of anti-S is getting stale with repetition but it often seems as if it is being refreshed by further successes. Jewish Voice for Labour has spoken out today in Corbyn’s defence. We’ll see if they can turn the tide.

  11. just on February 22, 2019, 10:13 pm

    Thank you for this superb and distressing article, Amith. There’s so much hypocrisy, disingenuousness, and plenty o’ poo all over.

    I was disturbed to read this:

    “… In an off-the-record conference call convened Tuesday overnight, Omar said she would like to start a process to mend ties with the American-Jewish community.

    Omar’s office invited multiple Jewish groups to participate in the call, both in Washington and New York. The invitees mostly belonged to groups that oppose Israeli settlements in the West Bank and are generally affiliated with progressive, left-wing politics. …

    The invitation stated that the purpose of the call was for Omar to express an apology and hear how the ordeal impacted the Jewish community. …

    Her office wrote in the invitation: “We are convening this call in hopes that it is the first step to healing the damage her words have caused, building a better relationship with you and your organizations, and finding ways to work together on a number of different issues, including combating anti-Semitism and religious bigotry of all kinds.”

    Groups that define themselves as Zionist, work with Israeli politicians from the center-left bloc and support a two-state solution were also included in the conference.

    Groups invited included the Union for Reform Judaism, J Street, Americans for Peace Now, National Council of Jewish Women, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Democratic Council of America, Bend the Arc and Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. …”

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-ilhan-omar-convening-call-with-left-wing-jewish-leaders-to-apologize-for-tweets-1.6955353

    The ADL??? You’ve got to be kidding me! Stand tall, Ilhan and shed these albatrosses, including those Israel- firsters in the Democratic party. Should there be a next time, invite some Palestinians to the party. Chat with Susan Abulhawa, Diana Buttu, many others. Speak with Hanan Ashrawi~ she was educated over in the US as well as in Beirut. She was close to Edward Said.

    • JustJessetr on February 23, 2019, 8:27 am

      As a member of JStreet, I was given a space to listen in on the call.

      • just on February 23, 2019, 10:27 am

        And?

      • JustJessetr on February 23, 2019, 9:24 pm

        I am revealing this with caution and a solid prediction that you and the rest of MW will simply shit all over what I say because it doesn’t fit your dogmatic view of the world…

        I wouldn’t classify her as a classic anti-Semite, but it’s obvious that she has grown up in an atmosphere redolent with it. Much like racism is part of the air in the US, so much so that Whites don’t know they’re insulting People of Color, Omar has ingested anti-Semitic tropes and is now spitting them out. I do get the sense she’s trying to overcome it, even though that takes a lifetime.

      • Keith on February 24, 2019, 12:38 am

        JUSTJESSETR- “… Omar has ingested anti-Semitic tropes and is now spitting them out.”

        Calling truth a “trope” doesn’t make it any less true. The “truth” of the matter is so rather obvious that you resort to anti-Gentile tropes which you spit out. You are blinded by Zionist ideology and the success and privilege which comes with it.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on February 24, 2019, 5:41 am

        Clearly she needs to be sent to a Mao Cultural Revolution style re-education camp, except one designed for the express purpose of “overcoming” antisemitic ‘tropes’. Call it a detropefying camp if you like.

        And do you have any examples of these ‘tropes’? Almost anything Zionists don’t like seems to be a ‘trope’ these days.

      • eljay on February 24, 2019, 9:12 am

        || JustJessetr: … I wouldn’t classify her as a classic anti-Semite, but it’s obvious that she has grown up in an atmosphere redolent with it. Much like racism is part of the air in the US, so much so that Whites don’t know they’re insulting People of Color, Omar has ingested anti-Semitic tropes and is now spitting them out. I do get the sense she’s trying to overcome it, even though that takes a lifetime. ||

        Good on her for trying to overcome the anti-Semitism you allege afflicts her.

        It’s a shame you Zionists can’t refuse to make a similar effort to overcome your addiction to the glaring injustices and immorality of Jewish / “Jewish State” supremacism (Zionism) that very clearly afflict you.

      • JustJessetr on February 24, 2019, 1:36 pm

        Like I said, you were just gonna shit all over it anyway. LOL.

        I hope she has better advisers than the peanut gallery here. She won’t keep her seat long if she doesn’t.

      • eljay on February 24, 2019, 2:04 pm

        || JustJessetr … Like I said, you were just gonna shit all over it anyway. LOL. … ||

        Well, I suppose that’s one way to avoid having to come to terms with the fact that you’re a supremacist who refuses even to try overcoming his supremacism. LOL.

      • JustJessetr on February 24, 2019, 8:14 pm

        @eljay,

        Curious, why do you keep using the same phrase “Zio-Supremacist” again and again no matter what the situation? I’m sure you have your political reasons that you believe in but it seems more like a mantra than a position. Serious question: is it activism by Google algorithm?

      • eljay on February 24, 2019, 8:53 pm

        || JustJessetr: @eljay,

        Curious, why do you keep using the same phrase “Zio-Supremacist” again and again no matter what the situation? … ||

        What an odd question, given that I haven’t used the phrase “Zio-supremacist” in very many months no matter what the situation. I do get the sense that you are not trying to overcome your supremacism.

      • YoniFalic on February 24, 2019, 9:39 pm

        The phrase “Zio-Supremacist” is completely reasonable and descriptive for those of us, who have been indoctrinated or brainwashed to believe that it was reasonable to steal Palestine to create the State of Israel against the wishes of the native population.

        I prefer the more verbose but also more precise phrase:

        white racist European colonial-settler invader-genocidaires and their non-European lackeys, who act as ersatz native collaborators.

        As I have pointed out previously, Zionism presupposes that the mythical historical and national rights of Eastern Europeans,

        1) whose recent ancestors practiced Rabbinic Judaism and

        2) whose more remote ancestors were pagans or Christians that converted to Judaism,

        are superior to the human rights, democratic rights, and property rights of the native Palestinian population.

        It is hard to be more extreme, more racist, more chauvinist, and more supremacist than Zionists are.

      • Mooser on February 24, 2019, 10:39 pm

        “Curious, why do you keep using the same phrase “Zio-Supremacist” again and again no matter what the situation?”

        Perhaps he thinks it is a good description of of a person who espouses Zionist ideology.

      • Talkback on February 25, 2019, 8:43 am

        JustJessetr: “Curious, why do you keep using the same phrase “Zio-Supremacist” again and again no matter what the situation?”

        Good question. It’s just a pleonasm. Contrary to “liberal Zionist” which is just an oxymoron.

  12. gamal on February 23, 2019, 7:10 am

    I see Michael Rosen recounts his experience in discussing Holocaust education with Ian Austin (Labour MP splitter because of the anti-semitism)

    “I was invited to give evidence to the HoC Education committee on Holocaust Education. Non-adversarial, fact-collecting. I started to say that we should avoid British triumphalism when talking about this to children and Ian Austin interrupted me and aggressively argued at me. https://t.co/93fZKZHZgV

    https://www.thecanary.co/trending/2019/02/22/the-uks-favourite-jewish-writer-exposes-the-latest-labour-defector-for-the-shtbag-he-really-is/

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on February 24, 2019, 12:53 pm

      Ian Austin seems to have a mild mental disorder. I’m not joking. Ditto ‘Dame’ Hodge. Something not quite right.

      Oh, and had you heard of Austin before all this antisemitism circus kicked off? I hadn’t. Nor Berger. Nor any of them in fact except maybe empty-suit Chuka. This whole manufactured crisis is giving them a profile their ‘achievements’ never did.

      • gamal on February 24, 2019, 4:54 pm

        Dame ‘Enver’ Hodge and Ellman I had heard of, Ellman has been around awhile, the others no but I left England long before Momentum, Corbyn and all this turmoil.

        The utter cynicism of Blairite/Zionists is awesome and it seems the powers that be are not going to let go of their Anti-Semitism ploy Yellow Vest Macron is loudly joining the fray, it’s a fiasco only the privilege of the players disguises for the moment that they have badly blundered but this controversy is going to damage the whole discussion of the discriminatory and dehumanizing regimen many have to labour under, Corbyn has shown that they can not be appeased, neoliberalism in crisis is crying anti-semitism whereas neoliberalism in its pomp derided the Arab propensity to complain of “imaginary grievances”, it is all such revolting mess one doesn’t really want to touch it at all, in any way, but what can you do everybody is talking.

  13. Vera Gottlieb on February 23, 2019, 11:28 am

    For shame israel et all. For shame!!!

  14. Ossinev on February 24, 2019, 6:45 am

    @JustJessetr

    “I wouldn’t classify her as a classic anti-Semite, but it’s obvious that she has grown up in an atmosphere redolent with it. Much like racism is part of the air in the US, so much so that Whites don’t know they’re insulting People of Color, Omar has ingested anti-Semitic tropes and is now spitting them out”

    Fascinating. Some specific examples please.

    NB Not including the “Benjamins” one which has been comprehensively debunked.

  15. Ossinev on February 24, 2019, 7:06 am

    The new “Independent”(sic) Group in the UK Parliament has been up and running or should I say being run for only a few days with the motley crew defying calls to do the honourable thing and stand for re-election. But already the smell of Zio control is starting to emerge:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/02/23/one-labours-biggest-private-backers-has-donated-independent

    There are always dots to be joined hiding in plain sight:
    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20141020-how-money-from-pro-israel-donors-controls-westminster/

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on February 24, 2019, 12:57 pm

      I’ve said it before but I think it bears repeating: Just think if the vast majority of a breakaway political group were officially ‘friends’ of any foreign, non-alligned country other than Israel, and appeared to have little else in common – other than being careerist non-entities I guess – other than that ‘friendship’.

      The media would be all over it like a rash. There would be constant questions as to just who is funding them. Quite rightly so. But nobody dares touch this because it’s Isreal. The harassment works.

    • MHughes976 on February 24, 2019, 12:58 pm

      Ruth George MP made a suggestion about Israeli funding and became our Ilhan Omar, apologising profusely within a very short time,presumably at Corbyn’s insistence. But the group does appear to have anti-anti-Semitism, which in these days of the IHRA definition means Zionism, as its most emphatically defining characteristic.

    • YoniFalic on February 25, 2019, 5:02 am

      David Garrard is a racist Zionist genocide-supporter and advocate. He should be arrested, tried, convicted, stripped of wealth, and sent to jail.

      From wikipedia:

      In 2013, Garrard hosted a visit to Israel by eleven Labour MPs, including shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy, shadow defence minister Gemma Doyle, Labour Friends of Israel chair Anne McGuire and vice-chair Louise Ellman.[15] He also sponsored the 2014 Labour Friends of Israel annual lunch, which included a speech by Labour leader Ed Miliband.[16][17]

      BTW, I must add that I consider Corbyn a complete wimp on Zionism and much too tolerant of genocide committed by “Jews.”

  16. Ossinev on February 24, 2019, 1:12 pm

    HC appears to have instructed its UK operatives to ramp up the bullshit A/S rhetoric once again. Desperate perhaps to make this “Independent” (sic) group all about alleged Anti – Semitism at the core of the Corbyn led Labour Party and kick into the undergrowth any notion that it is eg on the part of the Tory defectors anything to do with being anti – Brexit or the drift to the right wing in the Tory Party. There is room for only one “anti” in the Zio narrative. The repulsive fifth columnist Tom Watson apparently has been allocated the task of revving up the A/S engine once more:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-47348617
    Apparently amongst other “fears” he is worried that other Labour MP`s might jump ship. Not him as yet which is a great shame – possibly something to do with the extra income/pension rights he gets as Deputy Leader of the Opposition?
    Anyway he would deny of course that his “stand” on the legendary (well in the last two years) problem of alleged Anti – Semitism of course has anything to do with the fact that he somehow (I wonder how or why) has come to the conclusion that the sun shines out of Zioland`s every orifice:
    https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/tom-watson-i-am-proud-to-defend-israel-and-labour-has-moral-obligation-to-rid-itself-of-antisemit-1.470198
    https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/tom-watson-am-yisrael-chai/

    No words from these Israel Firsters about the racist Nation State Law , the continung brutality of Israel`s occupation and ethnic cleansing and last but not least the grotesque marriage between the Yahoo`s Likud fanatics and the Nazi Kahanists in the lead up to the election there.

    What is needed is a straight up debate between Watson and his fellow Zionist shills and the likes of Norman Finklestein or George Galloway . Would they accept the challenge. I don`t think so – they would be eviscerated.

    I personally think that there will be a growth in Anti – Semitism across all sections of political beliefs in the UK and it will have SFA to do with the UK population being Anti _Semitic. It will be because there is IMHO a growing yawn factor with people becoming sick to death of the so called representatives of what is tiny portion of the population continually whining and crying wolf and the awareness that this is blatant organised interference and manipulation by a Foreign Government in UK internal politics.
    https://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/2017/1/11/stop-everything-you-do-and-watch-this
    See also:
    https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2017/2/1/its-time-for-transparency-on-friends-of-israel-donors

  17. amigo on February 24, 2019, 2:32 pm

    “The repulsive fifth columnist Tom Watson apparently has been allocated the task of revving up the A/S engine once more:” 0ssinev

    Indeed and I bet the phone lines are buzzing at the BBC/ITV et al “Public relations depts” with requests–correction–demands from Watson/Berger/Ryan/Hodge et al , aids, that they be given space to fight this vile and ever growing antisemitism.

    Hell , don,t be surprised if this subject matter doesn,t show on Coronation Street /Eastenders /Emmerdale/Hollyoaks /Doctors et al.

    It,s all fiction so it would fit in well on those programs.

    I have to point out that we experience very little of this here , in the sense that our Political Parties are controlled by “FOI” elements.

    There is however a group known as “Oireacthas Friends of Israel ” which is not aligned to specific pol parties but it seeks members from across party lines.Very unsuccessfully though as they are not knocking on an open door here and they know it. See latest overwhelming vote in the Oireachtas on banning Goods from Occupied Palestine.It must have the Israeli Embassy in Dublin pulling their hair out.

    The Irish Tourist Board should include this in their “Reasons to Visit Ireland ” brochures especially to our friends across the water.

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