Israeli foreign influence campaign must be investigated: CJPME

Montreal, June 5, 2024Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is calling on Parliament to investigate Israeli foreign influence in Canada, following the alarming discovery that Israel has been covertly targeting Canadians with racist anti-Muslim messages. According to multiple media reports, the Israeli government has funded and orchestrated a secret foreign influence campaign targeting Canadians and Americans, using fake websites and social media accounts to demonize Canadian Palestinians and Muslims. CJPME further urges the government to act against Israel’s documented pattern of foreign interference by summoning and expelling Israel’s Ambassador to Canada.

“It is outrageous that the Israeli government has been engaging in foreign influence with total impunity, using front organizations to directly target Canadians with racist and anti-Muslim messages in an attempt to sway public support in favour of genocide,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. “Not only is it necessary for Parliament to investigate Israel’s covert targeting of Canadians, but the government must take a stand against this egregious behaviour by expelling the Israeli ambassador,” Bueckert added.

As reported by Haaretz and the New York Times, Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs has funded and orchestrated a large-scale influence campaign targeting progressives in Canada and the US, as well as Black US lawmakers. The Israeli government commissioned a political marketing firm in Tel Aviv to create fake English-language websites, including one called United Citizens for Canada (archived URL), as well as hundreds of fake social media accounts powered by ChatGPT, to spread racist and pro-Israel messages. An investigation by Fake Reporter described the campaign’s messaging as “portraying Canadian citizens of Islamic origin as a threat to Western values and suggesting that Muslims in Canada seek to implement Sharia law.”

CJPME notes that this is not the first example of covert Israeli foreign influence campaigns in Canada. In October 2023, as reported by The Breach, the Israeli consulate in Toronto secretly commissioned an opinion poll that “manipulated Canadian public opinion about Israel’s war on Gaza.” The poll, which used biased language to sway results in support of Israel’s genocidal actions in Gaza, was conducted by Aurora Strategies Global without disclosing that it was on behalf of the Israeli consulate.

CJPME is further concerned that Israel has not been a focus of Parliament’s ongoing investigations into foreign interference, even though the country has reportedly been identified as a threat. According to media reports last year, security agencies had warned Members of Parliament that Israel is one of six countries suspected of “potentially engaging in influence activities” ahead of the 2021 federal elections. Instead of taking these warnings seriously, Canadian public officials appear to have given a pass to Israel’s behaviour. In December, Canada’s Special Envoy on Combatting Antisemitism Deborah Lyons, and Canada’s Ambassador to Israel Lisa Stadelbauer, even met with far-right Israeli Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Chikli, who is responsible for orchestrating the covert targeting of Canadians, to discuss collaboration between their offices.