Assange Smear 16: “He’s an antisemite.”

Yes, yes, we all know by now that everyone who opposes the imperial war machine in any way is both a Russian agent and an antisemite. Jeremy Corbyn knows it, Ilhan Omar knows it, we all know it.

This one’s been around a while, ever since headlines blared in 2011 that Assange had complained of a “Jewish conspiracy” against him after an account of a conversation by Private Eye editor Ian Hislop. Assange responded to this claim as follows:

“Hislop has distorted, invented or misremembered almost every significant claim and phrase. In particular, ‘Jewish conspiracy’ is completely false, in spirit and in word. It is serious and upsetting. Rather than correct a smear, Mr. Hislop has attempted, perhaps not surprisingly, to justify one smear with another in the same direction. That he has a reputation for this, and is famed to have received more libel suits in the UK than any other journalist as a result, does not mean that it is right. WikiLeaks promotes the ideal of ‘scientific journalism’ — where the underlaying evidence of all articles is available to the reader precisely in order to avoid these type of distortions. We treasure our strong Jewish support and staff, just as we treasure the support from pan-Arab democracy activists and others who share our hope for a just world.”

“We treasure our strong Jewish support and staff.” Man, what a Nazi.

But that wasn’t what cemented this smear into public consciousness. Two related events punched that ticket, and bear with me here:

The first event was the WikiLeaks account tweeting and then quickly deleting the following in July 2016: “Tribalist symbol for establishment climbers? Most of our critics have 3 (((brackets around their names))) & have black-rim glasses. Bizarre.” The triple brackets are what’s known as echoes, which are a symbol that antisemites often put around words and names to hatefully indicate Jewishness in online discourse. In 2016 some Jewish people began putting the triple brackets around their own names on social media as a way of pushing back against this behavior, so if you really want to it’s possible for you to interpret the tweet as saying ‘All our critics are Jewish. Bizarre.’

But does that make sense? Does it make sense for the guy who announced “We treasure our strong Jewish support and staff” to then go making openly antisemitic comments? And if he really did suddenly decide to let the world know that he believes there’s a Jewish conspiracy against WikiLeaks, why would he delete it? What’s the theory there? That he was like “Oh, I just wanted to let everyone know about my Jewish conspiracy theory, but it turns out people get offended when an account with millions of followers says things like that”? That makes no sense.

If you look at the account’s other tweets at the time, it becomes clear that its operator was actually just trying to communicate an obscure, subtle point that was completely unsuitable for a massive international audience and 140 characters. When a user responded to the tweet before it was deleted explaining that some Jewish people now put triple brackets around their names to push back against antisemitism, the account responded, “Yes, but it seems to have been repurposed for something else entirely — a wanna be establishment in-group designator.” When accused of antisemitism by another account, WikiLeaks responded, “The opposite. We criticised the misappropriation of anti-Nazi critiques by social climbers. Like Ice Bucket Challenge & ALS.”

It looks clear to me that whoever was running the WikiLeaks Twitter account that day was clumsily trying to communicate an overly complicated idea about “social climbers” and establishment loyalism, then deleted the tweet when they realized they’d screwed up and stumbled into a social media land mine.

Now, I say “whoever was running the WikiLeaks Twitter account that day” because it’s been public knowledge for years that @WikiLeaks is a staff account shared by multiple people. Here’s a tweet of the account saying “this is a staff account, not Assange.” Here’s a tweet of the account saying “@WikiLeaks is a shared staff account.” This became self-evidently true for all to see when Assange’s internet access was cut off by the Ecuadorian embassy for the first time in October 2016, but the WikiLeaks Twitter account kept making posts during that time without interruption. This takes us to the second event which helped cement the antisemitism smear.

The second event occurred in February 2018 when The Intercept’s Micah Lee, who has had a personal beef with WikiLeaks and Assange for years, published a ghastly article which made the following assertion:

“Throughout this article, The Intercept assumes that the WikiLeaks account is controlled by Julian Assange himself, as is widely understood, and that he is the author of the messages, referring to himself in the third person majestic plural, as he often does.”

There is absolutely no reason for Lee to have made this assumption, and the fact that this remains uncorrected in his original article is journalistic malpractice.

The article reveals Twitter DMs from a group chat of which the WikiLeaks account was a member. One of the other accounts in the group chat shared a tweet by journalist Raphael Satter, who was posting a smear piece he’d written about WikiLeaks. The WikiLeaks account responded as follows:

“He’s always ben [sic] a rat.”

“But he’s jewish and engaged with the ((())) issue.”

When I first read about this exchange as written down by Micah Lee, I read it as “He’s always been a rat, but then, he is Jewish, and engaged with the ((())) issue.” Which would of course be gross. Calling someone a rat because they’re Jewish would obviously be antisemitic. But if you read the DMs, whoever was running the account didn’t do that; they said “He’s always ben a rat,” followed by a full stop, then beginning a new thought.

Now if you look at the date on that exchange and compare it to the date on the deleted ((())) tweet, you’ll see that this was one month after the infamous ((())) tweet that had caused such a tizzy. It appears likely to me that the operator of the account (who again could have been any of the WikiLeaks staff who had access to it) was saying that Satter was mad about “the ((())) issue”, meaning the tweet so many people were so recently enraged about and were still discussing, hence his attacking them with a smear piece.

There are also claims about an association between Assange and the controversial Israel Shamir, which WikiLeaks denies unequivocally, saying in a statement:

Israel Shamir has never worked or volunteered for WikiLeaks, in any manner, whatsoever. He has never written for WikiLeaks or any associated organization, under any name and we have no plan that he do so. He is not an ‘agent’ of WikiLeaks. He has never been an employee of WikiLeaks and has never received monies from WikiLeaks or given monies to WikiLeaks or any related organization or individual. However, he has worked for the BBC, Haaretz, and many other reputable organizations.

It is false that Shamir is ‘an Assange intimate’. He interviewed Assange (on behalf of Russian media), as have many journalists. He took a photo at that time and has only met with WikiLeaks staff (including Asssange) twice. It is false that ‘he was trusted with selecting the 250,000 US State Department cables for the Russian media’ or that he has had access to such at any time.

Shamir was able to search through a limited portion of the cables with a view to writing articles for a range of Russian media. The media that subsequently employed him did so of their own accord and with no intervention or instruction by WikiLeaks.

Now, we’re on Smear #16. There’s still a ways to go. If you’ve been reading this article straight through it should be obvious to you by now that there’s a campaign to paint Assange as literally the worst person in the world by calling him all the worst things you can possibly call someone. Is it possible that he’s some kind of secret Jew hater? Sure, theoretically, but there’s certainly no good argument to be made for that based on the facts at hand, and given the extent the narrative shapers are going to to paint him in a negative light, it’s a mighty big stretch in my opinion.


This is an excerpt from the mega-article “Debunking All The Assange Smears”.

I write about the end of illusions.

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