Israel’s government is outsourcing ‘mass consciousness activities’ to private organizations, unaccountable to the public. A legal challenge in the High Court aims to stop it.
By Itamar Benzaquen
Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs is carrying out a global propaganda campaign on behalf of the Israeli government that violates human rights and is acting without authority to do so, according to a lawsuit filed in the High Court of Justice Monday. Attorney Schachar Ben Meir’s petition demands that the High Court of Justice order a halt to the activities carried out by the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, headed by Gilad Erdan.
The Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which Ben Meir calls the “Ministry of Spying and Propaganda,” is, according to the attorney, surveilling citizens and conducting illegal operations intended to influence and manipulate public opinion.
The ministry has been at the center of a series of articles published by the Seventh Eye over the past several months. The articles revealed that one of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs’ main activities is the funding and publication of government propaganda on social networks and in newspapers, which is often carried out with the help of private businesses and non-profit organizations operating in Israel and abroad.
The Israeli government recently approved the payment of NIS 128 million to a private organization called Kela-Shlomo to carry out “mass consciousness activities” within the framework of what the Ministry of Strategic Affairs calls “extra-governmental discourse.” The organization was also said to have received a donation of a similar sum from Jewish philanthropists whose names the Ministry of Strategic Affairs refused to disclose. Kela-Shlomo’s starting budget, as result, exceeds a quarter of a billion shekels. Attorney Ben-Meir is demanding that the High Court of Justice stop these activities, too.
Kela-Shlomo is a non-profit organization founded by former high-ranking government employees, including former Director General of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs Yossi Kuperwasser. Unlike a government agency, which must follow freedom of information laws and actively publish information about its donors and formal ties, Kela-Shlomo owes the public nothing – it does not even have a website (a temporary website set-up by the organization just months ago has been taken down).Read More