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US leaders dodge questions about Israel’s influence campaign

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US leaders dodge questions about Israel's influence campaign

US federal lawmakers have dodged repeated investigations over the past week into a covert operation ordered by the Israeli government to artificially boost support among Americans for its war in Gaza. At the same time, senior White House officials charged with advising President Joe Biden on national security issues claim to have no knowledge of the operation, which was first publicly revealed more than four months ago.

The operation, formally linked to the Israeli government by a New York Times reporter last week, which began in October 2023 following the Hamas surprise attack in southern Israel. International researchers began working to expose February campaign identifying an avalanche of “suspicious accounts” on US-based social media apps, most posing as Americans declaring support for the Israeli military response.

In addition to eroding support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides assistance to 5.6 million Palestinian refugees, researchers say the main goal of the Israeli operation was to influence the opinions of African Americans. According to the Times, which cited four current and former Israeli officials in confirming that their government had commissioned the campaign, its main targets included the account of US Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, leader of the House Democrats, among others that they are “black and Democrats.” .”

Accounts linked to the operation (many of which, as of this writing, remain active on X, despite being suspended on other platforms) promoted a Black Lives Matter hashtag and shared images of Martin Luther King, Jr. . along with invented quotes. A website created for the operation included articles with titles such as “The leaders of the civil rights movement and their support for the Jewish people and Israel.” Several examples of accounts used in the operation, many of which were created weeks before the Hamas attack on October 7, which killed about 1,200 peopleThey promoted themselves as “Christians”.

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Multiple inquiries to senior Jeffries staffers, including his communications director, Andy Eichar, have gone unacknowledged for nearly a week. WIRED has attempted to resolve whether Jeffries was ever notified of the operation by US intelligence while Congress was debating $14 billion in funding to supplement Israel’s war effort.

Israeli forces have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians since the Hamas attack on October 7. according to estimates by Gaza health officialsincluding dozens last Thursday at a United Nations school compound, where the Israeli military is accused of doing “inappropriate use”from a bomb made in the United States.

With the exception of the White House National Security Council, which said Thursday it had no knowledge of the operation, and Senate Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner, whose office told WIRED he planned to request a briefing on the matter, Press questions about Israel’s attempts to The influence of American opinion on the war have hit a roadblock.

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