WATCH: Stanford’s Hoover Institution implicated in “astroturfed” pro-Israel demonstration

A leaked clip from a censored documentary indicates that a pro-Israel, anti-Arab protest was manufactured with the help of some staff and students from the Hoover Institution.

The documentary, produced by Al Jazeera, says that the protestors at the demonstration were “on a fellowship program run by a conservative think tank called the Hoover Institution.” A student says in the clip that they were “forced” to participate.

The Hoover Institution is located at Stanford University and is funded under Stanford University’s tax-exempt status as an educational institution.  The Hoover Institution has refused to answer questions about the report.

Hoover Tower occupies a central place on the Stanford campus, one of four Hoover Institution buildings at Stanford.

The student in the clip has not yet been identified, and it is unclear which Hoover program he was on. At one point in the video he laughs and says that he and others “sold out” for $50,000 and benefits.

Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper reports about the clip:

The Al Jazeera reporter joined a group of students who received a fellowship from the right-wing Hoover Institution, and they are seen telling him that their presence in a small pro-Israeli demonstration has been declared mandatory by their supervisors.

“’his is actually the first foot-soldier activity that we’ve been forced to do,” one of the students says. Another describes it as “a chance to shout at Arabs” who will protest against Israel at the same location.

The students also describe their presence at the demonstration as “astroturfing” – a political term that describes inauthentic political activism, which pretends to be grass-roots based activism. “It’s when you set up fake protests,” one student says. The same students are later seen holding “pro-Israel” signs at the demonstration.

The clip is from an Al Jazeera documentary about the Israel lobby in the U.S. that has not yet been broadcast. Ha’aretz reports that the film was pulled in a bid “to appease the U.S. Jewish community.”

Two sources from pro-Israeli organizations confirmed that the video excerpts were indeed filmed by the Al Jazeera reporter.

Hoover officials have refused to comment on the actions by Hoover staff members reported in the documentary, and it is unclear whether the institution approves of their behavior.

Stanford officials also failed to respond to inquiries about the report.

Hoover’s director is Thomas W. Gilligan, 650-723-1198, and its associate director is Eryn Witcher Tillman (also listed as a media contact for Stanford), 650-725-3076.


UPDATE: More portions of the documentary are now also online. See:
WATCH: Parts 1 and 2 of the censored Al Jazeera documentary on the Israel lobby in the U.S.