An Arabic-language newspaper in Paterson has published an article alleging that Israel and WikiLeaks conspired in last year’s dump of U.S. diplomatic cables.
The Arab Voice article echoes similar allegations found on Islamist websites, including those run by Hizbullah and an Islamist opposition group in Syria.
According to the conspiracy theory, WikiLeaks founder and director Julian Assange struck a deal with Israel and the “Israel lobby” to withhold documents that might embarrass the Jewish state. The conspiracy theories are percolating as well on far-left and far-right websites.
Israeli officials declined to respond to the allegations.
“We don’t comment on such ludicrous claims,” Yoni Peled, spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Washington, told JTA.
But the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement last week detailing some of the rumors and denouncing them as conspiracy theories cooked up by Israel’s enemies.
The Arab Voice article, written by Zuhair Belqurshi, is titled “WikiLeaks in the Service of the Zionist Goals.”
According to an excerpt translated into English by the ADL, the story alleges that “the selectiveness of the leaks serves the interests of Zionists and neoconservatives in America and the Zionist Republican Party to Judaize occupied Palestine and thus Judaize Jerusalem.”
The newspaper’s editor-in-chief is Walid Rabah, who was criticized in 2002 for printing a passage from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the notorious anti-Semitic forgery.
“I don’t know if it’s true,” he said of the WikiLeaks article in a Jan. 4 telephone interview. “Somebody else wrote about it. But we talk in our paper about WikiLeaks and why they don’t mention Israel. My opinion is, maybe there is a deal between WikiLeaks and Israel because they want to hurt the United States.”
Etzion Neuer, director of the ADL’s New Jersey region, said the article’s content was “of great concern. Right now it is appearing only on the fringe, and the good news is it has not made its way into the mainstream.
“Although there is a tendency to dismiss it as another loony theory, there is an audience that will be receptive to this,” added Neuer. “The Internet is a haven for conspiracy theories, and for certain anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists, this is a gold mine.”
The story also appeared in Arab Times, a web-based publication out of Conroe, Texas.
An English-language version of the WikiLeaks-Israel conspiracy theory appeared on Indymedia UK, an independent British on-line news organization.
Ben Cohen, associate communications director for the American Jewish Committee, said he has no reason to believe controversial WikiLeaks founder Assange has any loyalty to Israel — and a few reasons to doubt it.
“His goal is to damage the U.S. and configure it within the broad opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Cohen said. The pro-Palestinian movement in America sees WikiLeaks as a “fellow traveler of theirs.”
Cohen also cited a report that WikiLeaks’ representative in Russia is a Holocaust denier named Israel Shamir, a convert to Orthodox Christianity who claims to have been born Jewish.
“The idea that WikiLeaks is in league with the Israelis is hugely undermined by their relationship with Shamir,” Cohen said.
A spokesperson for Assange has described Shamir as a freelance journalist “accredited to WikiLeaks.”