New York, NY, December 28, 2010 … The unauthorized publication of thousands of pages of classified U.S. diplomatic cables by the WikiLeaks organization has had a serious unintended consequence: the proliferation of anti-Israel conspiracy theories claiming that Israel and the "Israel lobby" played a secret role in the documents' release.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said the WikiLeaks affair was "being exploited to spread false and malicious conspiracy theories against Israel," as a part of a disinformation campaign that has gained traction with those catering to the far right and the left, some Arab and Islamic Web sites and others dedicated to spreading "anti-Zionist" messages like Islam Times and Hezbollah's Al Manar.
"Once again, as we saw with the 9/11 attacks and the financial meltdown, we are seeing yet another manifestation of the Big Lie against Jews and Israel," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The WikiLeaks affair has given new life to the old conspiracy theories of underhanded Jewish and Israeli involvement in an event with significant repercussions for the U.S. and many nations around the world. The news is being exploited by conspiracy theorists, some world leaders, and various Web sites across the ideological spectrum to spread false and malicious conspiracy theories against Israel."
After 9/11, a widely circulated conspiracy theory suggested that Israel and the Mossad were the true perpetrators of the terrorist attacks and that "4,000 Jews" who worked at the World Trade Center had been forewarned and did not show up for work that day. And during the financial crisis in 2008, a rumor widely circulated on the Internet suggested that just prior to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and other major investment banks, $400 billion in funds was secretly transferred to Israeli banks.
According to ADL, WikiLeaks conspiracy theories are being promoted on several Arab and Islamic sites and have also surfaced in articles on conspiracy-oriented Internet sites catering to the far right and the left. Among the claims is that WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, "struck a deal" with Israel to withhold those cables that were "embarrassing to Israel," or that Assange actually works for Israel as a "spy" and that Israel's intelligence agencies orchestrated WikiLeaks as a public relations campaign.
On December 1, Hüseyin Celik, a deputy leader of AKP, Turkey's ruling party, hinted in comments during a press conference that Israel could be responsible for WikiLeaks. "Israel is very pleased [with the WikiLeaks controversy]," he said. "Israel has been making statements for days, even before the release of these documents."
Similar claims have surfaced on anti-Zionist sites and even on Al Manar, a Lebanon-based news service run by the terrorist group Hezbollah. According to an ADL analysis, the narrative about Israel negotiating with Assange may have first surfaced in Al Haqiqa, an online publication affiliated with a Syrian opposition group.
"A number of commentators, particularly in Turkey and Russia, have been wondering why the hundreds of thousands of American classified documents leaked by the website last month did not contain anything that may embarrass the Israeli government," reads an article titled "WikiLeaks 'Struck a Deal' to Keep Away Anything Damaging to Israel," published on Al Manar. "The answer appears to be a secret deal struck between the WikiLeaks 'heart and soul,' as Assange humbly described himself once, with Israeli officials, which ensured that all such documents were 'removed' before the rest were made public."
Many of the conspiracy theories about Israel and WikiLeaks were promulgated by Gordon Duff, an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist, and posted on his Web site, Veterans Today. Duff's articles have also appeared on white supremacist sites, including Stormfront, a popular forum for extremists.
Other allegations against Israel had their origins in the left-leaning Web site Indybay, which furthered the claim that WikiLeaks collaborated with Israel to restrict the publication of cables that could appear damaging to Israel.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.