AN EMPLOYEE working inside the office of Qatar-based Al- Jazeera network in Jerusalem watches the news, last month..
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Al Jazeera, the Qatar-funded news organization with 80 bureaus around the world, admitted this week to planting an “undercover reporter” inside pro-Israel lobbyist organizations in Washington last year to create a documentary based on his findings.
While the Arab network has yet to comment on the identity of the reporter who surreptitiously spearheaded the documentary, several pro-Israel organizations voiced suspicions that they were infiltrated by a pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist propagandist.
In January, Tablet magazine confirmed those suspicions, identifying the reporter as James Anthony Kleinfeld, a British citizen who ingratiated himself with numerous pro-Israel groups in the US capital under false pretenses, while identifying himself as “Antoine Kleinfeld.”
The admission, made Monday by the network’s head of investigative reporting, Clayton Swisher, dovetails with a ruling by a British government regulatory agency, Ofcom, rejecting complaints against an earlier Al Jazeera documentary which exposed an Israeli Embassy official attempting to influence British lawmakers.
Al Jazeera’s reporting led to the January resignation of Shai Masot, a senior Israeli political official in London caught on camera claiming he would like to “take down” British lawmakers seen as hostile to Israel.
According to Ofcom, the network’s reporting was not antisemitic.
Rather, Ofcom contended the program was “a serious investigative documentary which explored the actions of the Israeli Embassy and, in particular, Masot and his links to several political organizations that promote a pro-Israel viewpoint.”
Swisher, who conceded that Al Jazeera simultaneously had undercover reporters in Washington and Britain, said the network had delayed broadcasting its reporting from the US until Ofcom announced its decision on Monday.
“With this UK verdict and vindication past us, we can soon reveal how the Israel lobby in America works through the eyes of an undercover reporter,” he told The Intercept, an online publication launched in 2014 by First Look Media.
Swisher continued: “I hear the US is having problems with foreign interference these days, so I see no reason why the US establishment won’t take our findings in America as seriously as the British did, unless of course Israel is somehow off limits from that debate.”
The Israeli government has long considered Al Jazeera to be an anti-Zionist media enterprise masquerading as a news organization, and took steps in August to revoke the network’s press credentials, before reversing course.
Still, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – which have all condemned Qatar for its support for Iran-sponsored international terrorism – continue to demand the closure of Al Jazeera.
JTA contributed to this report.