Why did the lobby come after me?
The newsletter has returned!
My apologies for not getting in touch for so long. Between the Ottawa convoy and the war in Ukraine, I got very caught up in my work at Passage, and I haven’t been able to devote as much time to this newsletter as I’d like. But it’s back, and I plan to keep it going. Thank you to all the new subscribers that signed up since I last reached out, as well as to the rest of you for sticking around.
In the first issue of this newsletter, way back at the end of December, I gave a general overview of what the Israel lobby is, how it influences Canadian media and what you can expect from my project going forward. In the second issue, I wrote a mini profile on “Honest Reporting Canada,” an Israel lobby group that dedicates itself solely to trying to influence Canadian media coverage. You should read both posts now if you haven’t.
A few weeks after I published the second issue of my newsletter, the group I focused on came after me, as they do to so many that speak about Palestinian liberation. Here’s what happened.
On February 23, I tweeted about the disparities in the way Canada had been treating Ukraine’s opposition to Russia, and Palestinian resistance to Israel. Here is the tweet: “If the Canadian government really cared about fighting the illegal occupation and annexation of land abroad, as it’s now claiming to, it would send weapons to Hamas.”
Most people got the gist of the tweet, but it provoked Zionists as well as some liberals. I expanded on what I meant by the tweet later on, and I’ll quote that here: “If Canada cared about fighting illegal land annexation regardless of who it may be supporting (as with the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion) it ‘would’ do that. But Canada only cares when it happens to friends.
Canada uses Hamas as an excuse to demonize all Palestinians fighting illegal land occupation and do nothing to help them. But it doesn’t do the same to Ukrainians because of neo-Nazi groups there, and in fact has worked directly with them. It’s a lie that Canada has principles.”
I later added, “Finally, please know that I am not drawing a moral equivalence between Hamas and neo-Nazi groups that are heavily armed by Western states. I am just looking at it from the principles that Canada claims to have, where it would theoretically be opposed to helping either force.”
The initial tweet came and went with some engagement, but I didn’t think much of it. And then, a couple days later, I woke up to a tweet alerting me to a post on the Honest Reporting Canada website with the following headline: “Canadian Publication’s Editor Publishes Tweet Calling On Canada To ‘Send Weapons To Hamas.’”
In that post, they claim that I “advocated that the Canadian government should ‘… send weapons to Hamas,’ a banned terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction, known for suicide bombings and which fired 4,000+ rockets at Israeli civilians in the most recent round of hostilities.” They also called on people to report my Twitter account to try to get me suspended from the platform, where I currently have more than 11,700 followers.
As I later pointed out, “There’s a reason they had to add in the word ‘should,’ and then ‘…’, instead of quoting what I said directly. That’s because my tweet is not saying Canada should send weapons to Hamas.”
This is a good example of how Israel lobby groups can misrepresent or completely fabricate something someone said in order to try to get them in trouble.
So, what ended up happening? Here’s a short summary.
Their post about me backfired, and most people either mocked them or pointed out how they were misrepresenting my tweets
I didn’t get suspended from Twitter
I did get a few hateful messages on Twitter and by email, but nothing more than I’m used to
This incident led to the notoriously Islamophobic website “Jihad Watch” publishing their own post about me, directly referring and quoting the one from Honest Reporting Canada, although I think I was already on their radar due to past work
That’s about it. In truth, I was a little surprised at how minor the response was, and maybe you are too. But I thought about it some more, and I realized I’m in a position that is conducive to getting through such incidents unscathed.
My employer is an independent leftist publication that would not listen to what Israel lobby groups have to say. I don’t have any affiliations with a university or other major institutions at this point. This means that there’s not really any way for lobby groups to exert pressure to punish me, at least in the ways they normally do, as their desperate attempts to get me banned from Twitter indicate. They knew they couldn’t get me fired.
But many people that these groups target are in a different position than me. For example, they may be students or staff at notoriously pro-Israel universities that can be easily persuaded to either fire or punish people for speaking out against Israel. The same is true for other institutions. It’s probably even worse in mainstream media, where something like this would likely get someone targeted in some form, or maybe even fired. Of course, for Palestinians, these sorts of attacks can also lead to further issues when they need to pass through Israeli controlled borders to get back to Palestine.
So, my example isn’t really indicative of the impact a typical attack would have, or even the sort of impact it would have had on me when I used to work at HuffPost Canada, for example. I can almost guarantee I would have gotten in some trouble there, and maybe even had my contract job put at risk.
Of course, though, I may not be in this relatively free position forever. But I may be on the lobby’s radar forever, which means if I end up ever returning to more mainstream media outlets (though I have no desire to, and can’t see it happening) they will likely seek to hamper that. Anyone on Canary Mission, or who knows someone that is, will be familiar with this targeting process, which continues indefinitely.
But, that is a potential problem for future me. Current me is happy my short, factual profile of Honest Reporting Canada may have bothered them enough to prompt them to come up with false allegations, in what I consider to be an attempt to silence me. This newsletter will continue next month with a more typical sort of issue you’ll see going forward.
Before I sign off, though, I want to just leave a couple stray thoughts about the incident:
I’m an Italian born in Canada. But most of the negative comments I received in response to the post were racist, assuming I’m not white.
Here are some examples of this xenophobic rhetoric: “He sounds like one of The New Breed of Anti-Semites and Anti-Israel who came to Canada from The Middle East in the past 10 years and brought his Crap with him, Canada doesn't want Scums like him who supports HamasTerrorists”; “He is useless and non-human and needs to be shut down. If he lives in Canada kick him out for his anti-semites views.”; “Mastracci is testing the Canadian sense of humour. He should know we do not support terrorists such as Hamas”
The group shared their post about me on Facebook and Twitter, but someone reached out to let me know they even spent money to share it on LinkedIn! They obviously have too much funding. (You’ll hear more on that in future issues, and it is been mentioned in the most recent one as well.)
P.S., If you’d like to catch up on some of my past writing on the Israel lobby, pro-Israel media bias, etc., you can check out these articles: Uncovering Canadian Media’s Devastating Pro-Israel Bias; Western Media Doesn’t Want You To Read The Word Palestine; Media Should Stop Referring To Israel’s Military By Its Formal Name; Media Is Ignoring Alleged Illegal Israeli Army Recruitment In Canada; Media Has Whitewashed The Anti-Palestinian Pogroms In Jerusalem; Exposing How Pro-Israel Groups Manufacture Antisemitism Narratives; Gaza Protests Led To More Articles On Antisemitism Than Mass Shooting; Debunking Politicians’ Falsities About The York University Protest; Canadian Media: Cheerleading War on Palestine.